If there was one way or phrase to describe the 2021 Islanders boys’ basketball team it would be an “Unstoppable force.” And they showed just why in their dominant 74-58 CIF semi-final victory Wednesday night, June 9, over the No. 3 overall seed Canyon Crest Academy. The 16 point win by the Islanders was not only impressive but served as a reminder of just how talented of a team these Islanders are.
In the first quarter the Islanders, as they have done so many times this season, came out of the gates hot. With a concentrated effort of driving inside and going directly at the rack, the Islanders quickly found themselves up 13-7 thanks to buckets from No. 5 Alex Crawford, No. 3 Wayne McKinney, and No. 11 Nolan Reuter.
Coronado quickly expanded their lead in the following minutes after a steal and score from No. 23 Joseph Taylor-Pate followed by McKinney burying his third three-pointer of the quarter and giving the Islanders the 18-7 lead with 2:51 left to play in the quarter. However, for as much as Coronado controlled the first six minutes of the quarter, the last 1:57 belonged to CCA as the Ravens went on an 8-0 run to make it an 18-15 game heading to the second.
Even with the 8-0 run from the Ravens, Coronado was not phased. They stayed calm and continued to play their game. They opened the half with back-to-back steals and scores, one from Reuter and the other from McKinney putting the Islanders back up six. But CCA refused to roll over, as they quickly responded with back-to-back three-pointers to make it a 28-27 game with 3:10 left in the half.
The teams held each other scoreless over the next two minutes until the Islanders responded with two crucial three-pointers of their own from No. 1 Luke Chisholm and Taylor-Pate. Along with the two balls from beyond the arc, Crawford added two points of his own, all culminating in a 37-31 Islanders’ lead heading into the half.
There were a lot of key moments for the Islanders on this night, but the overall play from the Islanders in the third and fourth quarters was not only game-defining but perhaps season-defining. To start the third, Coronado again continued to attack the rim. Thanks to the aggressive play down in the post and on the boards from McKinney, Crawford, and No. 20 Zach Jackson, the Islanders not only got early scores but also drew four fouls in the process and put the Ravens in huge foul trouble very early in the half.
Along with Islanders’ ability to score in the paint, they also got a massive boost from beyond the arc from Chisholm. The junior shooting guard was on fire as deep in the second half he drained four three-pointers. Chisholm’s sharpshooting combined with the Islanders’ relentless effort on the glass in the paint, Coronado found themselves with a commanding 53-45 lead and only 8 minutes from clinching a spot in the CIF Championship.
Coronado’s aggressive and persistent play rolled over into the fourth as well. The quarter started with a huge effort from Crawford as he hit a pair of free throws after collecting an offensive rebound over three CCA players. Crawford’s effort started a 9-0 Islanders run after a deep three-pointer from Chisholm and a phi-Slama-Jama-esq alley-oop from Reuter to McKinney.
Even after a CCA timeout, which attempted to break the Islanders’ momentum, Coronado simply did not let up as after the timeout the 6’8″ Stetson University signee Crawford extended the lead to 20 points with a lay-up and a monster two-handed slam, capping off a 20 point scoring night. Along with the Islanders’ offensive bombardment in the fourth, the Islanders also put the clams on CCA on defense. For the first four minutes of the quarter, the Islanders held the Ravens to just three points and to just 13 points in the quarter, thanks to multiple steals from Reuter and McKinney and several blocks from Taylor-Pate, Jackson, and Crawford.
Coronado tacked on a few more points with another three from Chisholm, giving him 16 points on the night, another lay-up for USD signee McKinney to a cap off his 21p point performance, and two free throws from No. 13 Ben Lee to ice away from the Islanders a 74-58 victory over Canyon Crest.
To put it bluntly, the Islanders simply wanted it more on Wednesday night. They showed it in their hustle, attacking of the offensive and defensive glass, with aggressive and fearless play style that was evident from the opening tip. Now with their ticket punched to the finals, the Islanders will look to put a bow on this historic season as they take on No. 1 seed Orange Glen in the CIF Division II Championship game this Friday, June 11, at 4:30 at Saint Augustine High School.