Seahawks capture share of league title

HUNTINGTON BEACH — When the week began, the Ocean View High boys' basketball team needed a couple of things to happen if another Golden West League championship was to come its way.

The first thing was out of the Seahawks' hands and strictly based on hope. The second was within their control but hinged on the first thing happening.

Early Friday night, Ocean View had it both ways.

The Seahawks earned a share of the Golden West title by knocking off Loara, quite easily, too, 81-57, at the Ocean View gym. The outcome left Ocean View, Loara and Segerstrom in a three-way tie for the championship. The three teams all end league play with an 8-2 record. Tim Walsh, athletic director and associate head varsity basketball coach at Ocean View, said after the game that a coin flip had previously been held to determine the teams' league seedings for the CIF playoffs, should a three-way tie occur. Walsh said that both Ocean View and Segerstrom — who are in different CIF divisions — will each have a No. 1-seed from the league and Loara is the No. 2 seed.

"It couldn't have gone any better," said Ocean View senior guard Billy Keller who netted an impressive game-high 35 points, a career high, he said. "It feels amazing to end the week with part of a league championship. We needed some things to happen to get there, and they did. It feels amazing and God has blessed me with a great season."

Segerstrom could have won the league title outright if the Jaguars won Wednesday at Loara. They didn't. A 49-44 victory by the Saxons instead gave Loara a game lead on Segerstrom but at the same time, gave life to Ocean View's aspirations of winning a seventh-consecutive championship.

"It's been a wild few days," Ocean View co-head coach Jimmy Harris said. "We're thrilled to be part of another championship. The kids played really well.

"Strategy-wise, our goal was to keep the ball out of (Jo Jo) Trinidad's hands. I thought we did a really nice job for the most part, of doing that. We played focused and pressured him in that second quarter. We played really intense defense for a long stretch."

The Seahawks and Saxons traded holding the lead in the first quarter which ended with the score tied at 15-15. It was tied one final time (17-17) when Loara's Howard Gauta hit a pair of free throws 42 seconds into the second quarter but from then on, it was all Ocean View.

The Seahawks (17-9) turned it up a notch on defense, applying full-court pressure, trapping Trinidad in the backcourt and converting turnovers into easy baskets. The blitz resulted in a game-turning, 18-0 Ocean View run that took the Seahawks out to a 35-17 lead.

The Saxons (16-10) would get no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

The 18-0 spurt began when Keller softly nailed a three-point shot and concluded when senior center Trey Gourdine scored on a lay-up off a feed from senior guard Luke Davis. Trinidad briefly stopped the bleeding when he hit two free throws with 1:53 left before the half. His foul shots ended a scoring drought by the Saxons that lasted 5:49 of the quarter.

Ocean View led, 37-24, at the break and was still up by 13 with a 51-38 lead with 2:18 left in the third quarter after Loara's Josh Thomas completed a three-point play. The Saxons had a chance to further cut into the lead but Gauta missed a leaner and after rebounding his own miss, had the ball stolen away by Keller who was fouled at the other end of the court on his way to the basket. Keller cleanly sank two free throws which triggered an 8-0 run by the Seahawks.

Ocean View led, 59-40, after three quarters. The Seahawks achieved their biggest lead of the game, 27 points (76-49), on two free throws by junior guard Cristian Rivera with 3:25 left.

The margin of victory even shocked Harris.

"Did I think we'd win by 24 points, no, absolutely not," he said. "I was running scenarios in my head during the game, what to run in crunch time. In my mind, I had been preparing strategy from the start of the game to the final buzzer. Never did I think that we'd be taking our starters out midway through the fourth quarter and giving all of our seniors playing time. Was it the 'ideal' situation? Absolutely."

In addition to Keller's 35, Rivera and Conor Clifford scored 12 points and 11 points, respectively, for Ocean View which avenged a 78-69 loss Jan. 28 at Loara.

Trinidad scored 20 points, getting five of them late in the game, Thomas had 14 points and Gauta added 12 points for the Saxons.

The CIF Southern Section basketball playoff pairings will be released Sunday.

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