Coronado Boys Basketball Enters Conference Season With 9-9 Mark - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

Coronado Boys Basketball Enters Conference Season With 9-9 Mark

Nado Natterings by David Axelson | Posted: Monday, January 13, 2020 11:36 am

There wasn’t much rest for the Islander Boys Basketball Team over the holidays, as they played four games since the last edition of this column. They compiled a 1-3 record in those games, against strong competition, and all but one of the three games they lost were winnable.

Their first game was against Carlsbad, who Coronado lost to 75-62 Dec. 11. So there were no secrets between the two teams when they played their re-match Monday, Dec. 30. The Lancers best player is senior guard Jailen Nelson and the Islanders leader is Wayne McKinney. Word of McKinney’s ability has spread quickly throughout the coaching ranks in San Diego County, with the talented Islander junior point guard being the focal point of the opposition’s defensive game plan every time he steps on the court.

Islander Head Coach JD Laaperi said of the Carlsbad game, “This is the one where we thought we were going to get over the top against a top-tier school. There were a lot of similarities to the first time we played them. We were probably the better team for three quarters. This time, the fourth quarter got us. Nelson scored 13 points in the first three quarters and he had 16 in the fourth. He willed his team into a comeback and ultimately hit a big-time three-pointer with a minute to go. We weren’t able to score after that. We fouled them coming down the stretch which led to the final score of 58-52. Our kids played well. We played their 6-10 center well and held him to eight points, plus he didn’t do a whole lot on the boards. It was a valiant effort. Carlsbad does a good job with him setting up with high pick and roll plays with Nelson. They just hit a couple more shots than we did down the stretch. Wayne had 28 points and 10 rebounds.”

After a couple of days off for the New Year Holiday, the Islanders returned to the court, moving their game venue south about 10 miles to Madison High School for a three-game round-robin tournament, which started Jan. 2. This time the opponent was El Camino, which is a Top 15 team in San Diego County. This game opened with Coronado jumping out to a 6-0 lead and their defense playing well in a 3-2 zone configuration. The Islanders gave as good as they got and held an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. But El Camino got dialed in from long distance, hit three three-pointers in the second quarter, and pulled away to a halftime lead of 29-19.

The Wildcats double-teamed McKinney at the top of the key, with a third defender stationed below the free throw line focused on McKinney. Laaperi said, “Nobody knocked down any shots for us that night and Wayne tried to score a little more. If we played El Camino 10 times, we wouldn’t eke out more than one win. They are in Division I and based on what I’ve seen, they have a chance to make the Open Division for the CIF Playoffs. They play in a tough league and if they get a couple of wins, they will be in contention for the Open Division.”

The final score was 53-38 and this was the lone game the Islanders were out of. McKinney despite an off night for him, had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals. Mike Cunningham scored seven points to go with three rebounds and an assist; David Roberts was active with five points and two rebounds; Jack Westphal scored four points to go with four rebounds, an assist and a steal; Ryan Hoyt had a good outing with four points and three rebounds; and although he didn’t score, Kieran Ashley had five rebounds and two blocked shots.

The following night it was back to Madison to face Otay Ranch, which entered the game with a record of 14-1. “That’s the biggest group from Otay Ranch I have ever seen,” Laaperi noted. “It seemed like they had someone at least 6-6 in every front court spot. We put on a 1-3-1 press and were in control of that game early. We had a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and we were up nine points in the fourth quarter. Then we started shooting the ball early in the possession, within the first five or six seconds. A kid for them had three threes and we were down three with four seconds to go in regulation. We called timeout and drew up a play for either Mike Cunningham in the corner or Wayne at the top of the key. Wayne hit a three pointer for us to send the game into overtime. When we got to overtime, they fed the ball to their big guy every time down the floor and our center Jack Westphal fouled out. Although Kieran Ashley is making progress, the guy he was guarding had a little more experience and he scored consistently in overtime. We lost 71-65. We were 8-19 from the free throw line. It wasn’t our night from the line. We’ve been preaching to the kids that we’re right there with all the teams we’re playing. This was another one for the taking. Surprisingly the kids’ spirits were up. They were proud of the way they played but were disappointed they lost. McKinney had 34 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Cunningham had 19 points. When Mike gets hot it opens up the floor for Jake Hacker and David Roberts. If we can score in the range of 55-65 points a game, we’ll win some games because we’re giving up an average of 50-55 points a game to good teams.”

The fourth game of the week was against Madison, a team the Islanders had defeated earlier this season. “They only had seven guys in uniform,” Laaperi said of the Warhawks. “Their two best players were out with the flu. So it was all hands on deck for us, everyone got minutes. We won 55-33. Wayne had 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Mike had 17 points and hit five of his nine three-pointers; and Nolan Reuter had 10 points. Nolan had some success against Madison and he’s a good defender. It was good to see him get minutes. It was nice to get some of the guys who hadn’t played earlier in the week some time.”

Entering this week, the Islanders are ranked No. 2 in Division III behind San Ysidro. The Islanders get to re-group this week, as they don’t have any games scheduled. Their next game, which is a home game, will be played Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. against University City. They play Hoover on the road Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.