High Schools: Sea Kings aim to climb

Under Coach Ryan Schachter, the Corona del Mar High boys' basketball team has finished first in the Pacific Coast League in four of his first five seasons.

In Schachter's sixth season at the school, the Sea Kings are back in contention for a league crown.

But they're looking up, instead of down.

The Sea Kings have reeled off three straight wins in league play, putting them in second place, two games behind first-place Woodbridge.

The Sea Kings can get closer to the top spot on Tuesday, when they have a showdown at home against Woodbridge at 7 p.m.

Three weeks ago, CdM (12-9, 4-2 in league) and Woodbridge (16-6, 6-0) met for the first time.

The Sea Kings traveled to Woodbridge and suffered a 58-49 setback, their first in league. They dropped another on the road before getting back on track.

CdM is one of two league teams that have hung with the Warriors. The Sea Kings even held a three-point lead against the Warriors midway through the fourth quarter, but CdM was hurt by its half-court game.

Woodbridge went on to outscore CdM by 10 points in the final quarter.

The Sea Kings are better when they're in transition. For CdM to become the first opponent in league to knock off Woodbridge, the Sea Kings have to push the tempo.

Jake McCloskey and Joey Calise lead the Sea Kings, ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A poll. The two seniors combined for 24 points, almost half of the team's total in the previous contest against Woodbridge.

The Sea Kings will need contributions from others, because Woodbridge, ranked 10th in Division 3AAA, has five players averaging around double-digit points per game. The Warriors, led by Austin Rouk's 14 points, had three players in double figures the last time against CdM.

Only three league games remain after Tuesday's matchup. This is a must-win situation for CdM if it wants any chance to defend its league crown.

Costa Mesa is close to claiming the Battle for the Bell boys' basketball rivalry for the first time in five years and its first league title in six years.

The Mustangs stormed back at home last week to beat Estancia, 39-36, helping them take the first game of the cross-town series and stay in the hunt for an Orange Coast League title.

Costa Mesa (16-6, 5-1 in league) can move into a first-place tie with Laguna Beach (13-9, 6-0) this week, most likely on Friday, when the Mustangs play host to the Breakers at 7 p.m.

The Mustangs, ranked 12th in Division 4A, have to take care of business at Godinez (14-8, 3-3) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies share third place in league with Estancia (12-11, 3-3), which has lost back-to-back games.

Estancia can help rival Costa Mesa Wednesday, in its home contest, by beating Laguna Beach. If the Mustangs get past Godinez and the Breakers lose to the Eagles, then Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach will be atop the league standings together, making Friday's contest for outright first place.

This week and the next are the last two weeks in league.

The Mustangs close out league play at Estancia on Feb. 9. A second victory against the Eagles secures the Bell for Costa Mesa, even a two-point loss, since the tiebreaker would be total points from both games and the Mustangs would hold an edge.

The Newport Harbor boys' basketball team continues to lose without Larry Hirst, who resigned as coach before the team's second Sunset League game.

The Sailors have lost each of their six league contests, five with assistant coach Bob Torribio at the helm. Newport Harbor has dropped 14 consecutive games, the program's worst skid since 2008-09, when the Sailors closed out the season with 15 losses in a row.

Back then, Torribio took over for Hirst, who was on a one-year sabbatical. The Sailors finished 3-21, 0-10 in league that season.

Since 2008-09, Newport Harbor is 4-32 in league play.

National Signing Day for football, boys' water polo, soccer, track and field, cross country and field hockey is Wednesday, which is the first day high school seniors can sign a national letter of intent with a college.

Some locals expected to sign with their respective schools: Newport Harbor's Farrel South (UC Berkeley men's water polo); Mater Dei's Megan Crosson of Costa Mesa (Santa Clara women's soccer); Mater Dei's Elisabetta Impagliazzo of Newport Beach (Tulsa women's soccer); and Mater Dei's Anthony Daboub of Corona del Mar (UCLA men's water polo).


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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