Boys' Basketball: CdM breaks through in quarterfinals

CORONA DEL MAR — You bet Coach Ryan Schachter was familiar with Corona del Mar High's opponent on Tuesday. He coached against the school when he broke into the coaching business 15 years ago.

There was no way he forgot about Santa Barbara San Marcos. His wife, Crystal, went to the school.

"She was going to come in red and blue," said Schachter, referring to San Marcos' school colors. "She's like, 'I'm not rooting for you.' I don't mind. I told her she'd go home a loser."

Crystal never made it to CdM's gym. Schachter said she stayed home with their two kids, who are dealing with the stomach flu.

If she had attended the game, she wouldn't have stomached the result. Her husband's team ran circles around her alma mater.

The third-seeded Sea Kings routed San Marcos, 83-62, in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs.

The game turned out to be the third straight blowout for the Sea Kings (21-9) in the postseason. They have been dismantling teams by an average of 29 points per game.

The Sea Kings are playing their best basketball at the right time of the season. The quarterfinals had not been to kind to CdM the past three seasons, losing each time in this round.

The last time CdM won in the quarterfinals was in Schachter's first season, six years ago. That same season, the Sea Kings went on to claim a section title, the school's fifth.

Blake Grable believes CdM is on its way to another section finals appearance. He helped the school get one step closer, finishing with 21 points against San Marcos.

The Sea Kings will be at home in the semifinals on Friday. They will have to get through second-seeded La Verne Damien (23-6) to reach the championship game.

"It's been our goal since we lost that quarterfinal game last year at Santa Margarita to get past the quarters," Grable said. "We have another game at home. We play a lot better at home. I think we can beat Damien and get to the finals."

Schachter said he has watched about two minutes of film on Damien, which shared second place in the Sierra League. He saw the film right before CdM's game against San Marcos, saying he wanted to get "some stuff ready in preparation for the next round."

He must have known CdM would get past San Marcos (19-9), the second-place team from the Channel League. The postseason trip to Orange County was San Marcos' second in five days.

Schachter has made the 2 1/2-hour trip from Santa Barbara to Orange County plenty of times, from his college days at UC Santa Barbara and assistant coaching days at Santa Barbara High, coming home to visit family.

"That's a long drive back," Schachter said with a smile.

Three years ago, CdM drove to San Marcos for a second-round game. The Sea Kings won and it marked the start of three straight quarterfinal appearances for them, all ending the same, close losses.

The quarterfinal setbacks, by an average of 6.6 points per game, were as tough as the opponents CdM played, Santa Margarita, La Verne Lutheran and Cerritos Gahr.

San Marcos wasn't going to get in the Sea Kings' path this season.

"We put it on the board, 'What are we going to do this year?'" said Schachter, whose team has reached the quarterfinals in six of his seven seasons.

The Sea Kings showed Schachter they were going push through and give him his second quarterfinal win at the school. They looked a bit nervous at the start, turning the ball over on their first three possessions.

Once they settled down, CdM finished the first quarter with a two-point lead, their first, thanks to Kevin Fults' energy off the bench and his floater with one second left. The Sea Kings closed out the next quarter stronger, on a 13-4 run, thanks again to Fults.

Late in the second quarter, Fults collected one basket and two steals, leading to CdM's final seven points of the first half. Grable recorded five of those points, the last on a three-pointer to beat the buzzer.

His teammates on the bench rushed the floor to congratulate Grable. He produced 10 points in the second quarter, giving CdM a 34-23 lead. The momentum was on the Sea Kings' side.

They continued to pour it on in the third quarter by scoring the first 10 points. Four CdM players contributed, point guard Bo St. Geme with a bank shot, Grable with a three-point play, Max Stone with a three and Drew Olson with a jumper.

After San Marcos finally produced a basket, Coach Dave Odell called a timeout with 5:25 left in the third quarter. Eighteen seconds later, Stone knocked down another three. Two minutes later, he added his third triple in the quarter and CdM led, 52-27.

Stone finished with a game-high 22 points and four three-pointers. St. Geme had 10 points.

"I thought we would be more competitive than we were tonight," said Odell, whose team scored 29 points in the fourth quarter, almost as many as it did through the first three quarters combined. "I thought we made some mistakes. Most of all, they were just really good. They played defense against us in a way that really … took us out of our offense in the first half."

The Sea Kings pressured the ball and denied passes, and they denied Schachter's wife from being able to gloat at home.

*

CIF Southern Section Playoffs

Division 3AA

Quarterfinal

Corona del Mar 83, San Marcos 62

SCORE BY QUARTERS

San Marcos 13 – 10 – 10 – 29 — 62

CdM 15 – 19 – 23 – 26 — 83

SM – Wheelock 13, Douglas 13, Widmer 10, Hempy 10, Hurtado 5, Ridenour 5, Johnson 4, Alvarado 2.

3-pt. goals – Widmer 1, Douglas 1.

Fouled out – Ridenour.

Technicals – Hempy.

CdM – Stone 22, Grable 21, St. Geme 10, Duncan 9, Olson 6, Fults 6, Flamson 2, Manchester 2, Younessi 2, Hanna 2, Griffin 1.

3-pt. goals – Stone 4, Grable 2, Duncan 1, St. Geme 1.

Fouled out – None.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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