CORONA DEL MAR — The tempo did not favor host Corona del Mar High Friday night.
Kennedy of La Palma slowed the pace down and put a scare into the Sea Kings. The Fighting Irish got as close as five points down the stretch of the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA boys' basketball playoff game.
The fifth-seeded Sea Kings eventually put the Fighting Irish away, winning 49-43 to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
The next game will feature a faster speed, more to the liking of CdM. The Sea Kings (19-9) travel Tuesday to La Verne to face fourth-seeded Lutheran (20-4).
The road trip will be CdM's first this postseason. Danny Cheek is looking forward to it.
"Personally, I like playing away, even though you get the crowd at home," said Cheek, who played at home in the first two rounds of the playoffs. "I get more of a chip on my shoulder when you play away. You've got to prove it."
Cheek proved his worth to CdM in the second quarter. He closed it out on fire, recording three straight baskets.
The Sea Kings went into halftime with a 28-17 lead because of a 6-0 run turned in by one player.
Coach Ryan Schachter fired up Cheek in the second quarter, telling the 6-foot-2 guard to attack. The Northern Arizona University-bound guard responded, almost scoring half of his 14 points in a two-minute stretch.
Cheek exploded from the left baseline for a reverse layup. On the team's next possession, Cheek showed off his smooth jumper. It was a catch-and-shoot situation and Cheek drained the shot.
With 16 seconds left in the first half, Cheek flew past defenders after senior forward Marcus Bradley grabbed a defensive rebound. The ball followed Cheek and he easily converted a layup.
"We ended the first half well," Schachter said.
The numbers proved that statement as CdM was 11-of-22 shooting through the first two quarters.
The second half was not as productive for the Sea Kings. After CdM made just two field goals in the third quarter, it took the Sea Kings some time to get their next successful shot.
Kennedy's zone defense gave the Sea Kings problems. Two minutes into the fourth quarter is when Bradley scored CdM's first points of the quarter.
Clayton Ragsdale made it possible for Bradley getting two of his 20 points on a layup. The senior point guard stole the ball from Kennedy guard Jimmy Yoshitake and quickly pushed the ball up court.
Yoshitake led Kennedy with 20 points, but his turnover was one of a half of dozen committed by his team in the fourth quarter. Sloppy play hurt the Fighting Irish.
If Kennedy (21-7) had limited its mistakes, it probably pulls off the upset.
"It was a six-point game. Yeah, it scared me," said Schachter, whose team was held to its third-lowest scoring game of the season. "It was frustrating because we were getting good shots. We weren't making them. We weren't making free throws [as we shot 55%]. We were getting just poor turnovers and they just kept plugging away. It reminded me of the Tesoro game [that we lost, 57-54, in the regular season], where [the opponent] just hung around and we didn't execute offensively against the zone."
The Sea Kings must do a better job knocking down jumpers if they do not want to drop out of the postseason in the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
Lutheran, with four NCAA Division I recruits, is just as athletic as the Sea Kings and it can keep up with them in transition.
CIF Southern Section Division III-AA
Corona del Mar 49, Kennedy 43
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Kennedy 7 – 10 – 11 – 15 — 43
CdM 15 – 13 – 8 – 13 — 49
K – Yoshitake 20, Daly 12, Bomar 5, Pleasant 4, Flatland 2.
3-pt. goals – Yoshitake 2.
Fouled out – Stone.
CdM – Bradley 20, Cheek 14, Ragsdale 8, Freeman 4, Jackosky 3.
3-pt. goals – Cheek 2, Freeman 1, Jackosky 1.