CORONA DEL MAR — Coach Ryan Schachter repeated the same sentence and it felt good each time.
"We're healthy," Schachter said with a smile. "We're healthy.
"We had everything. You name it. We had it."
After the flu and cold last week wrecked its outright Pacific Coast League title and No. 3 seed in the playoffs, the Corona del Mar High boys' basketball team just got sick of losing.
The Sea Kings found the best cure Wednesday. They won, ending a two-game skid.
Fifth-seeded CdM got better in a hurry at home. The Sea Kings opened the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs with a 64-40 rout of Santa Margarita in the first round.
Schachter saw CdM (18-9) compete on both ends of the court, more importantly on defense.
The Sea Kings smothered Santa Margarita, an at-large entry into the playoffs from the competitive Trinity League. Eleven points is what CdM held the Eagles to at halftime.
The visitors took their time returning to the gym for the second half. Some fans wondered if the Eagles (13-14) jumped on the bus and headed home.
The game was over after CdM led, 35-11, through 16 minutes.
The Sea Kings move on to the second round Friday, when they play host to Kennedy (21-6) at 7 p.m. Kennedy defeated Magnolia, 57-52, in double overtime Wednesday.
The next matchup for CdM cannot come fast enough for Marcus Bradley.
The forward will be playing in his first second-round playoff game of his career. The 6-foot-6 senior dunked his way there, finishing with a game-high 21 points, a handful coming on jams.
"This is the first time that I've been past the first round, so I knew I had to play aggressive," said Bradley, a transfer from Beaumont High, who also played at Redlands East Valley High as a freshman.
"Everyone is feeling a lot better. We just knew we had to come out and play, because the last two games that we played [and lost], if we played anything close to that we would've been done [in the playoffs]."
Losing sole possession of a league crown last week is now in the rearview mirror for Bradley and the Sea Kings.
The goal now is to contend for a section title. Bradley said if CdM continues its play it can make it all the way to the championship.
The return of point guard Clayton Ragsdale and forward Andrew McCormack gave the Sea Kings a boost in their first step to reaching the big stage.
Ragsdale, who is back from a viral infection, played a big role in the Sea Kings holding the Eagles to four-of-27 shooting in the first half. Schachter said the team's defensive performance in the half was the best turned in by CdM this season.
McCormack came off the bench and the junior showed no signs of the stomach virus that knocked him out down the stretch of the regular season. McCormack pounded the offensive boards, grabbing five, and finished with a team-high eight rebounds.
"Him being [sick] was probably bigger than anyone else [being sick]," said Schachter, whose Sea Kings were forced to share the league title with University. "Andrew gives us so much, offensive rebounds, defense. The best teammate you could imagine. There is no one I'm happier to have back than him."
McCormack even scored a basket, his only one of the night. The layup came in the second quarter in which CdM outscored the Eagles, 23-6.
The shots in the second quarter fell for CdM, which made nine of 12 field-goal attempts. What pleased Schachter was the offensive balance during the eight-minute stretch.
Six players recorded a field goal, much of it with senior Danny Cheek (10 points) sitting on the bench in foul trouble.
"Not only did we play great [defense], but that was the most we've shared the ball on offense against a zone," said Schachter, who saw the Sea Kings in the second quarter convert four three-point plays, half by Ragsdale. "That's been our weakness in zone offense and we got great shot after great shot."
The Sea Kings converted 75% of their shots in the second quarter and they ignited the crowd.
The shot that got the fans on their feet was the one slammed by Bradley at the end of the first half.
Bradley first swatted a Santa Margarita shot just inside the three-point line, giving him one of his three blocks. He then raced the other way and threw down a two-handed dunk with eight seconds left before halftime. It felt good again to deliver the knockout blow.
CIF Southern Section Division III-AA
Corona del Mar 64, Santa Margarita 40
SCORE BY QUARTERS
SM 5 – 6 – 14 – 15 — 40
CdM 12– 23 – 17 – 12 — 64
SM – Robles 15, Krenzer 12, Talebi 3, Strauss 2, Pope 2, Witczak 2, Edwards 2, Merritt 2.
3-pt. goals – Robles 3, Talebi 1, Krenzer 1.
CdM – Bradley 21, Cheek 10, Freeman 8, Haly 7, Ragsdale 6, Calise 5, Jackosky 5, McCormack 2.
3-pt. goals – Ragsdale 2, Freeman 2, Jackosky 1, Calise 1.