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Corona del Mar loses chase, falls to Beverly Hills
AZUSA – Revered status inside Corona del Mar’s gym is annually a difficult bar for the Sea Kings to reach. They only hang banners of CIF-SS champions or higher.
Corona del Mar’s boys basketball team didn’t achieve that lofty rank Friday night, but the Sea Kings proved plenty memorable.
The Pacific Coast League champions weren’t intimated by center Chance Comanche, but the Arizona-bound senior made his share of plays and had plenty of support as Beverly Hills won the CIF-SS Division 3A final, 55-47, at Azusa Pacific.
The top-seeded Normans (25-4) executed better and forced No. 2 Corona del Mar (24-7) into chase mode in the second half. The Sea Kings were more than willing to see the final to the end and challenge the 6-foot-11 senior with shots and a few shoves.
“Our guys aren’t afraid of anyone,” Corona del Mar coach Ryan Schachter said. “This is definitely the hardest playing team I’ve had. I love these guys tremendously.”
Corona del Mar trailed by 12 points midway through the third quarter but trimmed the deficit to 49-44 with just under a minute left. But the Sea Kings missed consecutive open 3-pointers with 43 and 39 seconds remaining that would have made it a two-point game.
But Beverly Hills’ defense held and the Normans then sealed their first section crown since 1969 by making their free throws. Beverly Hills went 10 for 10 from the foul line in the second half and 16 of 17 for the game. The Sea Kings finished 9 of 14 from the line.
Corona del Mar held its own on the boards, but Beverly Hills won the battle of the benches, 17-5, and second-chance points. Point guard Denzel Holt and forward Jalen Sands each scored 12 points for the Normans. Samuel Kobrine had a game-high 16 points for CdM.
“We had a lot of opportunities in that fourth quarter … we just couldn’t make the shot,” said Schachter, whose team will advance to the SoCal Regionals. “We didn’t play well enough to win a championship tonight.”
Comanche finished with 10 points and five blocks, but Corona del Mar’s Ryan Stone played him physically and Matthew Ctvrtlik drew a charge on the standout in third quarter.
“We tried to be physical with the kid (Comanche),” Stone said. “(The season) was a lot of fun. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think we’d get this far.”
Beverly Hills led, 26-21, at halftime, but Corona del Mar had its moments.
Kevin Fults buried a 3-pointer over Comanche to give the Sea Kings an 18-17 lead with about four minutes left in the second quarter.
Bo St. Geme (11 points) also sank a 3-pointer for a 21-19 lead, the Sea Kings’ last advantage.
Beverly Hills made a second-chance 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 run to close the half.
The Sea Kings matched Beverly Hills in the shooting categories and rebounding but the Normans’ bench was one key difference, outscoring the Sea Kings’ reserves, 10-2, in the first half.
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