HUNTINGTON BEACH – In the days leading up to the start of the boys' basketball playoffs, Ocean View co-head coach Tim Walsh was a bit wary of his team's first-round opponent.
The Seahawks, the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs, drew a Redondo Union squad that, on paper, looked anything but threatening. At just 10-16, these Sea Hawks from the South Bay figured to be a push over. Walsh, however, knew better. It was a team, he said, that had defeated Edison and gave highly-regarded Crespi all it could handle during the regular season.
After 32 minutes of action Friday, Walsh still stood by his original thought.
"I really believe that they are better than the No. 32-seed in this tournament," he said, moments after Ocean View had wrapped up a 69-51 home victory that sent the Seahawks onto Tuesday's second round. "They are a well-coached team, they run good stuff and they made us work. This game is what I expected it to be."
Ocean View, which padded its win streak to 18 games and ran its record to 24-3, trailed just once in the game, and that deficit came in the first minute of play. The Seahawks steadily built their lead to double-digits by the end of the opening quarter and maintained that cushion the remainder of the game.
The Seahawks advance to face Thousand Oaks which won on the road at Mark Keppel on Friday. The second-round game is 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Thousand Oaks.
Redondo did make a few charges in the second half after Ocean View twice built the lead to 19 points in the third quarter. Redondo trailed, 50-34, heading into the fourth quarter and was down 15 (54-39) two minutes into the quarter, when it made what turned out to be its final move. Ocean View's Robby Weaver was called for both a personal and technical foul on the same play against Redondo's Derek Biale. His team's leading scorer, Biale hit both technical foul shots and the Sea Hawks got two more points on the same possession when Jordan Ichiyama also made two free throws. The four-point swing pulled Redondo to within 10, 56-46. The Sea Hawks again were within 10 at 58-48, with four minutes remaining.
Then, the momentum, and game, swung back Ocean View's way moments later. For good.
Seahawks freshman guard Kendall Small answered with a lay-up off a feed from Cristian Rivera before Conor Clifford dropped in two free throws to make it 60-48. Small then came up with an outstanding defensive play when he pick-pocketed Biale just inside mid-court, hustled for the loose ball and started on a dash toward the Ocean View basket when Biale grabbed his jersey. Biale was called for an intentional foul, Small made two free throws, Ocean View maintained possession and on the possession, Dillon Reise nailed a three-point shot to push the lead to 64-48 with three minutes to play.
"Kendall asked to guard [Biale] in the second half," Ocean View co-head coach Jimmy Harris said. "He made a great play on that one. He has all the gifts to be an unbelievable defender."
Redondo took its only lead of the game at 2-0. Ocean View then rolled off the next 10 points and took a 19-6 lead after one quarter. All five Seahawks starters - Small, Rivera, Clifford, Weaver and Josh Mishler, scored in the quarter with Rivera leading the way with six points. The senior guard/forward had 10 points by halftime. Redondo had gotten to within 30-20 on a Biale free throw with under a minute to play in the second quarter but Weaver dribbled off the final seconds of the first half, then pulled up and hit nothing but net on a three-pointer before the buzzer, to give Ocean View a 33-20 lead at the break.
The Seahawks went out and scored the first six points of the second half to further take control. The mini-run was highlighted by a steal and length-of-the-floor lay-in by Weaver that took the score to 39-20. A basket by Clifford with 5:13 left in the third quarter gave the Seahawks their other 19-point lead of the night at 43-34. They took a 50-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
Ocean View turned to Clifford, their 7-foot senior center, in the third quarter. He scored eight points in the quarter after getting few touches in the second quarter. He led the Seahawks in scoring with 19 points. Three other Seahawks were in double figures with Rivera scoring 14 points, Reise 13 and Mishler 11.
Biale led all scorers with 21 points.
With the first game under its belt, Ocean View can now focus on Thousand Oaks.
"They're always a tough team," said Harris, who took a pause to listen when the Ocean View game announcer made the announcement that Thousand Oaks had defeated Mark Keppel. "It's on the road, and a long road game, at that. It'll be a challenge and we have to be ready to go."
In other CIF boys' basketball action:
Upland 59, Fountain Valley 56
Fountain Valley faced a 20-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter at Upland but the Barons staged a furious rally that fell just short. The Barons outscored Upland, 33-17, in the final eight minutes but the Highlanders held on for the win by hitting seven of eight free throws down the stretch.
Junior Josh Armstrong had 19 points and senior Sean Myers, in his final game as a Baron, scored 10 points with six assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Fountain Valley finished the year 17-9, its best record in 10 years, second-year head coach Roger Holmes said. The Barons finished in a three-way tie with Edison and Huntington Beach in the Sunset League.
Edison 48, Rialto 36
Huntington Beach 52, Katella 28
Capistrano Valley 74, Marina 59