Coronado, riding an 11 game win streak and undefeated in Central League play, had one of those games that was bound to happen over a long season of competitive play. On a night when Coronado paid homage to firefighters and lifeguards, the Islanders had little spark, and played much of the game like they were treading against a riptide.
Christian started fast hitting their first two shots and the Islanders answered with a smooth jumper out front by Vaughn Madariaga. On the next possession, Madariaga found Dejon Jackson inside for an easy bucket. Caden Gentry took the ball down low, was fouled, and converted both free throws. Then Madariaga drained a 3 pointer from the top of the key. A steal by Myles Manning and two blocked shots by Jackson kept Christian at bay for a time. A free throw each by Bruen Roulier and David Rusu ended the first quarter with the score knotted 11-11.
Madariaga backed in an overmatched Patriot, was fouled and converted both free throws. The game was still young but the Islanders were struggling to connect with many of their shots. Patriots’ point guard #5 Nashom Carter, kept pushing the pace. Carter, who scored a game high 24 points, deftly handled the ball against Coronado’s full court press.
Sullivan Alexander had a nice rebound put-back towards the end of the first half, but Christians hot shooting had them up by 12 at intermission 27-15.
The Islander’s offense continue to sputter in the second half. A driving mini jump hook by Roulier dropped in and a couple of free throws by Myles Manning kept the game in reach. A tough defensive rebound by Roulier started a fast break to Manning who took the ball strong to the glass for two. Coronado switched from a 1-2-2 zone to man-to-man defense that helped slow down the Patriots. On offense Nado tried to get the ball into the low post to Jackson where he is most effective. The game plan was successful as Jackson scored 4 down low to pull within seven, 32-25 Patriots and the end of the 3rd quarter.
Roulier hit a 15 foot jumper to open the fourth quarter and Jackson scored off an offensive rebound, but Christian kept making shots. With 2 minutes left, the Patriots led by 11. David Rusu drove and dished to Jackson who was fouled and converted the 3 point play. Then Coronado’s full court pressure finally forced a turn over and Caden Gentry made Christian pay as he drained a 3 pointer. All of a sudden it was a 5 point game.
But Christian kept the ball in #5 Carter’s hands as much as they could. The Patriots converted their free throws to keep Coronado at arm’s length to the end. Final score Patriots 51, Islanders 41.
With a record of 25-3 and two remaining league games to play, this Islander team is poised to set the record for most wins in a season in the history of Coronado Hoops. The Islanders will travel to Crawford on Tuesday (2-14) and be home against University City Thursday (2-16) tip-off at 7:30pm. The CIF Division III play-off will start the week of Feb 19. Stay tuned for Coronado’s match ups.