Coronado High Boys Basketball team have some rebuilding to do after last season’s magical run to league, Section CIF and State titles. Because of their strong teams in the recent past, the Islanders were moved up to Division I this year. First year head coach Anthony Ott (CHS ’06) has his hands full mentoring this group of young men to compete with many of the top high schools in the county.
It was cold and clear last Friday night when Coronado hosted the Patrick Henry Patriots. Kieran Ashley controlled the tip-off for the Islanders and it was immediately clear both teams were emphasizing aggressive defense. Shooting was as cold as the weather outside with the first points of the game not coming until after the two and half minute mark. Senior forward Finley Alexander blocked a shot and soon after was fed inside for an easy bank, getting the Islanders on the board. The game was tight most of the opening quarter, but when Patriot sharpshooter Cam Marshall drained back-to-back three-pointers, ‘Nado was down 11 – 2.
Patrick Henry kept full court pressure on the entire game making it challenging to establish an offensive rhythm. Guards Connor Little and Tekur Velazquez broke the press regularly with gritty effort. Coronado’s game plan was to get the ball down low to Ashley who delivered with a strong inside bucket. He immediately followed up with a massive rejection of a Patriot lay-up. Junior Darren Hopkins made a slick drive to the hoop for two with 15 seconds left making the score 14-6 after one period. Ashley continued to work the paint in the second quarter. He scored on a strong drive from the right baseline and was fouled. Shortly after he deftly drove the middle of the lane for another bucket at the rim. Soon after, Velazquez worked his way around two defenders to score. Coronado was starting to heat up but so were the Patriots who took a 30 – 12 lead into halftime.
The Islanders drew closer in the third with Alexander connecting from the right of the key. Little made an incredible steal taking the ball coast to coast for a lay-in. He followed that with another determined drive for two and the foul. Alexander’s night wasn’t done as he came up with a steal and then posting up, stroked another basket from left of the key. Little’s two free throws late made the score 36 – 23 at the end of three.
Coronado continued to battle in the fourth quarter. Alexander scored on a floater with an assist from Ashley. He scored again on a rebound put-back. Feeling the first momentum of the game, Little raced down court on a breakaway but was hacked at the rim. On the next possession, sophomore Sam Dulin weaved through the lane for a lay-in, was fouled and converted the 3-point play. That’s when Darren Hopkins exploded on three consecutive possessions igniting the crowd with hopes for a comeback. He drained a 3-pointer to bring the Islanders within 9 at 44 – 35. Next, he swished a 17-footer, and followed with a strong drive for two more. Coronado was within 8 points but time was running out. Alexander gave a nice inside feed to Ashley who slammed it home and was fouled. The home crowd went crazy. The Islanders needed to foul to slow the clock, but Patrick Henry sank free throw after free throw (going 11 for 12 in the quarter) to keep Coronado at bay. Final score 54 – 41, Patriots. Alexander led the Islanders in scoring with 10 points with Ashley and Hopkins adding 9 apiece.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, Coronado traveled north to take on the El Camino Wildcats. The game would turn out to be the closest contest of the young season. Coronado went toe to toe with El Camino in a nail biter, dropping the match 53 – 51. Ashley scored 15 to lead the Islanders. Alexander added 13 points, Velazquez 12; Ben Lee chipped in with 8 and Hopkins 3 to round out the balanced scoring.
Coronado will host the Calexico Bulldogs tonight, Dec 15, with tip-off at 6 p.m.