Boys Basketball Team Plays In Semi-Final Game Of Mt. Carmel Tournament - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

Boys Basketball Team Plays In Semi-Final Game Of Mt. Carmel Tournament

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Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020 5:36 pm | Updated: 5:41 pm, Thu Jan 2, 2020.

Riding the crest of a six-game winning streak, the Islander Boys Basketball Team (8-5 overall record) rolled into the Mt. Carmel gymnasium Saturday night to face the Serra Conquistadors in the Semi-Final game of the 16-team Mt. Carmel Tournament. Like any good story, there was a sub-plot to this encounter as the two teams played each other Dec. 4 in Coronado, with the Islanders winning 75-67. In that contest, Islander point guard Wayne McKinney led the way with 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Shooting guard Mike Cunningham contributed 19 points and four assists. McKinney’s first game against Serra was foreshadowing of the game played 24 nights later.

Serra, which is competing at the Division II level this season, is a well-coached club which can get up and down the floor quickly. They also have guards who are effective long-range shooters. Perhaps as importantly, they seemed intent on reversing the result from earlier in the season.

The Islanders got off to a slow start, despite Head Coach JD Laaperi juggling his lineup during the first quarter to find a combination that worked. The Islanders fell behind 15-8 in the first quarter, had a couple of mini-rallies in the second quarter to get the score to 27-21 in favor of Serra with 1:06 left in the half. However prior to the conclusion of the half, the Conquistadores pushed the lead out to 32-23. In the first half, McKinney accounted for 14 of Coronado’s 23 points and eight of their 15 rebounds. Serra frequently sent a weak-side defender to double team McKinney, an effort that met with little success, as the junior simply evaded them.

The second half was another matter as Head Coach JD Laaperi apparently got the team’s collective attention during intermission and the Islanders came out more focused. Coronado scored the first six points of the second half, and with 2:15 remaining in the quarter, got to within four points at 40-36. But Serra had a scoring run to finish the quarter, went into the final frame ahead 45-36. But the Islanders weren’t going away as they went on a 12-4 run with McKinney scoring six points, Jake Hacker contributed four points and two rebounds and Ryan Hoyt chipped in a layup. McKinney played the last nine minutes of the game with four fouls, which in this case meant he backed off on the defensive end about 10 percent, and not at all on the offensive end of the floor.

With 1:57 remaining in the game, the Islanders trailed by four points. A jumper by McKinney, followed by a steal and layup by McKinney with 47 seconds left, tied the game at 54-54. But Coronado couldn’t quite get over the hump. A long three-pointer by one of Serra’s guards on their next possession and a free throw with eight seconds left in the game, accounted for the final score of 58-54.

McKinney had another great game, eerily similar statistically to the first Serra game. He accounted for 34 points, 15 rebounds, an assist, three steals and three blocked shots. Simply stated, if you enjoy high school basketball, you need to see McKinney play in person. McKinney stands somewhere in the 5-foot, 10-inch range but plays much taller than that. He’s also the best finishers at the rim I’ve seen play in person at the prep level.

Other game statistics included Cunningham with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals; Hacker had four points, five rebounds and one steal; Jack Westphal contributed four points, three rebounds and a steal; Hoyt had a basket and a rebound; and Nolan Reuter had a point and an assist.

Coach Laaperi said of the re-match with Serra, “A team isn’t going to have it every night and for three and a half quarters we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We were able to string together a three or four-minute stretch that got us in the game. We didn’t shoot well or move the ball well in the first half. At the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter we figured out that we’ve seen these guys before, which was the most frustrating part of the whole evening. I truly believe we are the better team. It was a struggle on the bench to find a lineup that would work. We’re still trying to find the proper mix of Wayne McKinney doing his thing and guys getting to the right spot on the floor. I told the team, ‘Wayne’s going to get into the lane, and draw two or three guys. Get yourself open.’ Wayne is averaging 28 points per game for us. If we can get one guy to consistently step up and score 12 points a game and another player to score eight points, you’re looking at an easy 50 points from those three guys. Finding that mix has been the biggest puzzle piece.”

Hacker had an interesting week, flying 18 hours on a return trip from India, then playing a few hours later in a game against San Pascual. According to Laaperi, Hacker made a strong contribution in the Serra game. “Jake played a good chunk of time in the second half, with solid minutes offensively and defensively. Before his injury (a cut inside his mouth), Jack Westphal gave us some good minutes inside. He’s not going to be an imposing force, but he can mix it up.”

On the plus side, Laaperi noted, “We played three games in three nights. Against Serra we were down 12 and we could easily have felt bad for ourselves. I gave credit to the guys in the locker room that they worked through the mistakes and gave themselves a chance for a defensive stop to win the game. Those are things to build on.”

Coronado’s first game of the week was a 71-32 dismantling of San Pascual High School. Laaperi said of the game’s highlights, “We were up 15-13 at the end of the first quarter and then we picked up with full-court defensive pressure. We played that for the next two and a half quarters and our biggest lead was 39 points heading into the fourth quarter. We got to play our backups and they played for the final eight minutes. McKinney played a little more than two quarters and scored 18 points to go with 10 assists and six rebounds. One of our highlights was freshman small forward William Haley hitting a three-pointer and a layup. The whole bench was really happy for him. For a kid like that, who has played in JV games and practices with the varsity, it’s good to give him extended minutes and a taste of varsity basketball. That takes the pressure off a little bit.”

The second game of the week was a 58-45 win over tournament host Mt. Carmel. Laaperi said of the re-match, “They beat us the second game of the season when we didn’t have McKinney. This time we outscored them 19-7 in the third quarter and our biggest lead grew to 19 points in the fourth. We were able to pull our starters with three and a half minutes to go. Wayne had 22 points, four rebounds and six assists. We played full court man-to-man defense against them in the second half and put the clamps on them. One highlight for me came late in the game when Wayne finds (post player) Kieran Ashley, who shot a three-pointer and hit nothing but net. Kieran finished with eight points and David Roberts also had a good night with 10 points. In our half-court defense, David had four steals by switching off his man and disrupting what they wanted to do. He really worked hard getting in front of their guys for steals. This was an important win over a Division III school. A second win against us would likely have put Mt. Carmel ahead of us in the CIF Playoff seedings.”

The Islanders have four games this week. Monday night they play Carlsbad in the final game of the Mt. Carmel Tournament. Starting Thursday, Jan. 2 they will compete in a three-game round-robin series, all at Madison High School. Laaperi said, “Thursday, we play El Camino at 7:30 p.m., a team which has Top 10 material. Friday, we play Madison at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday we play Otay Ranch, which is now 10-1, at 4:30 p.m.”

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