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Huntington Beach boys’ basketball falls in second round, but continues growth

Senior guard Kai Labistre scored 12 points for the Huntington Beach High boys' basketball team on Friday.
Senior guard Kai Labistre scored 12 points for the Huntington Beach High boys’ basketball team on Friday night in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs.
(Matt Szabo)
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The Huntington Beach High boys’ basketball team had not won a playoff game in seven years.

When the Oilers beat Gahr on Wednesday night, it gave Huntington Beach coach Tino Zaragoza a chance to match up against Northwood — his alma mater — in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs.

“A lot of good memories there,” said Zaragoza, who played for the Timberwolves from 2002-06. “I was hoping that I would make one more good one on my end, but it didn’t work out that way. That’s all right.”

The visiting Timberwolves were quick and deadly from three-point land on Friday night.

No. 2-seeded Northwood earned a 64-44 win over Huntington Beach, ending the Oilers’ season.

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Huntington Beach, which made the playoffs as an at-large team after finishing third in the Wave League, ended the season with a 16-14 record.

It’s the first time the Oilers have finished the season with a winning record since that 2016-17 season, when they also made the second round of CIF.

“We’re making strides, man,” said Zaragoza, in his fifth year in charge. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’re on the right path and we’re going to keep getting better.”

Huntington Beach boys' basketball coach Tino Zaragoza instructs his team during Friday night's game.
Huntington Beach boys’ basketball coach Tino Zaragoza instructs his team during Friday night’s game.
(Matt Szabo)

Northwood (23-7) blitzed the Oilers with 24 first-quarter points on its way to the victory. Senior Zaid Yunis scored 21 of his game-high 24 points before halftime.

Junior Sidd Raj added 15 points for the Timberwolves.

“They’re great defensively, they rotate, they fly around,” Huntington Beach senior guard Kai Labistre said. “There’s a lot of things we could have done better, but they scouted us really well.”

Labistre led Huntington Beach with 12 points, making all six of his field-goal attempts. Freshman Jamil House scored eight points, senior Logan Barker chipped in seven and senior Rohan Nakra struck twice from downtown to account for his six points.

Zaragoza said Huntington Beach played without its leading scorer, sophomore Oliver Nakra, who tore his posterior cruciate ligament against Los Alamitos on Jan. 19.

Two weeks later, the Oilers won 73-72 at Laguna Beach in double overtime — even while missing four starters — to account for their only league win.

Huntington Beach’s wins have steadily grown, from back-to-back six-win seasons to 13 last year and 16 this year.

“Big jump,” Labistre said. “I think it just started from the seniors, to the next seniors, to the next seniors. They just become leaders every year.”

Northwood hosts Don Bosco Tech in a Division 3A quarterfinal game on Tuesday.

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CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs

Second round

Northwood 64, Huntington Beach 44

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Northwood 24 - 15 - 14 - 11 — 64

Huntington 14 - 9 - 11 - 10 — 44

N — Yunis 24, Raj 15, Abaye 11, Lui 6, Alegre 5, Arnold 3.

3-pt. goals — Yunis 5, Raj 3, Arnold 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

HB — Labistre 12, House 8, Barker 7, Nakra 6, Jones 4, Edmunds 3, Groscost 2, Sanchez 2.

3-pt. goals — Barker 2, Nakra 2, Jones 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

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