Corona del Mar High boys’ basketball coach Ryan Schachter was kicking himself a bit prior to his team’s game with Crean Lutheran Monday night in the annual CdM Beach Bash.
Rumor had it the Saints were going to be down this season after three of their top players transferred after a coaching change was made. But the players who stuck it out at Crean Lutheran are no slouches, and Schachter had his concerns about their ability to fill it up from three-point range.
The Sea Kings showed that they were also capable of knocking down threes at a high clip, nine of them to be exact, in defeating Crean Lutheran at its own game. CdM opened its tournament with a 79-67 victory.
Schachter said that he was pleased with how the Sea Kings (3-1) executed offensively, especially with its passing and shot creation. Junior guard Jack Stone finished with a game-high 23 points and four three-pointers.
“We played at two or three notches higher than we had against Beckman and Santa Fe,” said Schachter, referring to the Sea Kings’ first two games of the season. “We’re starting to click more offensively, which is helping with ball movement and getting wide open shots.”
The CdM offense found its rhythm late in the first half.
The Sea Kings trailed 29-27 after a basket from Crean Lutheran’s Drew Yezbak with less than three minutes left in the second quarter, but they stormed into halftime on a 14-2 spurt. Football standout John Humphreys had half of the points during the run, and Jake Hamilton hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, giving CdM a 41-31 advantage at the break.
“I’m glad we were able to get that separation,” Schachter said. “You don’t know how guys will respond because it’s still early in the season.”
Forward Jack Garza opened the third quarter with an elbow jump shot, but Crean Lutheran mounted a run of its own. The Saints scored 10 straight points to cut CdM’s lead to 43-41.
That’s when Stone turned it on.
Stone hit four three-pointers in the third quarter. Three of them came in back-to-back-to-back fashion, giving the Sea Kings a 13-point lead midway through the quarter and allowing them to take a six-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“He can shoot it,” Schachter said of Stone. “He had a couple of bad games and got into his own head, but he should be one of the top shooters in [Orange County] this year.”
Stone said that the coaching staff’s confidence in his shooting allows him to let shots go more freely.
“Everyone has their role and mine is to shoot threes,” Stone said. “When I get the ball, they encourage me to shoot, so I took them.”
Crean Lutheran (3-4) cut the CdM lead down to 63-58 on a basket from Jon Scherer with six minutes to play, but Stone earned a three-point play the hard way on a putback through contact, followed by another offensive rebound bucket from Connor Schimmelpfennig, giving the Sea Kings a 68-58 lead with 4:57 to go.
A corner three-pointer from Adam Garza put CdM ahead 71-58 and Crean Lutheran never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Center Gum Majak led Crean Lutheran with 19 points, while guard Aiden Gilbert added 18 points.
The Sea Kings’ scoring balance was headlined by Stone, but Humphreys scored 13 points, Hamilton 12, Jack Garza nine and Schimmelpfennig eight.
Humphreys, who is 6-foot-5, and Ethan Garbers, who is 6-3, played their first basketball game of the season. Humphreys, a wide receiver, and Garbers, a quarterback, led the football team to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 title game on Nov. 24.
“They both give us such a more physical presence, not only in games but in practice too, which has elevated our play,” said Schachter, whose team resumes pool-play action against Eastvale Roosevelt on Wednesday at 7 p.m. “John coming back, [after] averaging 13 [points per game] as a sophomore, will be huge for us. He’ll make an immediate impact on our offensive efficiency and defensively we’ll be significantly better.”
CdM Beach Bash
Corona del Mar 79, Crean Lutheran 67
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Crean Lutheran 19 – 12 – 22 – 14 — 67
Corona del Mar 18 – 23 – 18 – 20 — 79
CL – Majak 19, Gilbert 18, Yezbak 10, Scherer 9, Swardstrom 7, Shin 4
3-pt. goals – Gilbert 2, Yezbak 2, Swardstrom 1, Scherer 1
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – Swardstrom.
CdM – Stone 23, Humphreys 13, J. Hamilton 12, J. Garza 9, Schimmelpfennig 8, Olson 6, A. Garza 6, A. Hamilton 2.
3-pt. goals – Stone 4, Hamilton 2, A. Garza 2, Humphreys 1.
Fouled out – None.