On Saturday, June 19th the Coronado Islanders defeated Orange Glen High School in the CIF Div. 4-A Regional championship.
It was perhaps the finest 35 minutes of basketball played in San Diego County this season; but due to postgame controversy, the game itself will most likely be long forgotten.
The game started in favor of the visiting Patriots of Orange Glen High School as they jumped out to an early 8-2 advantage. The Islanders seemed to be unable to find their footing offensively over the first three minutes as only a driving bucket from Wayne McKinney would get Coronado on the scoreboard. Orange Glen would continue to grow their lead in the first thanks to yet another three-pointer making it an 11-2 game.
The Islander’s offense slowly started to show a pulse thanks to a pair of free throws from Alex Crawford, and five more points from McKinney came from inside the paint, to cut it to just a six-point game at the end of the first quarter.
The Islander’s first-quarter offensive struggles bled into the second quarter as the Islanders were only able to manage one point over the first three minutes of the quarter. A big reason for the Islander offensive struggles was because of the strong and physical performances in the defensive post from Patriots Adam Nieves and Tyler Meyers.
After yet another three-pointer from Orange Glen, Coronado called a timeout in an attempt to regroup, now facing a 22-11 deficit, the Islander’s first 10-plus point deficit since early April. Out of the break, three-point specialist Luke Chisholm buried a three to cut the lead back to single digits. McKinney followed up his teammate’s three-pointer with a three-ball of his own and Coronado added a bucket thanks to a jumper from Crawford to make it a 28-20 heading into the half.
To find another reason for the Islanders’ first-half scoring struggles, one could easily point to the team’s struggles at the charity stripe, as the Islanders were just 4/10 from the free-throw line in the first half.
It looked as if the Islanders would break out of the dry spell thanks to a three from Zach Jackson. But Orange Glen, who all season has been lethal from three-point land, quickly responded with two three-pointers of their own, with the latter coming from Mickey Chew who connected for another of his team-high five three-pointers to give the Patriots the 35-23 lead.
But just as it looked as if Coronado was on the verge of letting the game get away, the Islanders broke off a much-needed 9-2 run that was sparked by five straight points from Crawford and capped off by another three-pointer from Zach Jackson. The Islander run did not completely erase the once 12 point Orange Glen lead, but it made it a more manageable comeback possibility as the Islanders trailed 32-40 heading to the fourth.
In the fourth, the Islander offense finally woke up as the Islanders used a quarter-opening 11-3 run to tie the game at 43-43 with 4:08 to play. The catalyst for the Islanders’ run was Nolan Reuter. The sophomore buried two consecutive deep three balls, the second of which tied the game.
Both teams exchanged buckets over their next few possessions to make it a 45-45 game with 2:10 to play. However, Orange Glen pulled ahead by three thanks to another corner-three from Chew making it a 48-45 OG lead with 1:06 to play.
On the ensuing Islander possession, McKinney drew a foul and went 2/2 from the line to bring it back to a one-point game. After a stop by the Coronado defense, the Islanders took the ball with a little over 40 seconds to play. On that possession, McKinney drove hard to the rack with 12.1 on the clock. His first layup missed, but the senior point guard grabbed his own miss, and this time laid it in to give Coronado the 49-48 lead with 7.4 to play.
Orange Glen then dribbled the ball up the court and put in, what appeared at the time, to be a last-second three-pointer. But in the process of shooting, the Orange Glen player was fouled and sent to the line. The Orange Glen shooter only went 1/3 from the line and made it 49-49 sending the game to overtime.
The overtime period was the definition of back and forth. The quarter started with a great offensive possession from Orange Glen, ending with a corner three from Christian Martinez. The Islanders responded with a bucket from Crawford to draw it back to a one-point game. The continued shot for shot play was only broken after Coronado forced a turnover giving them possession with 8.8 to play.
After a few fouls to drain the clock, Coronado had inbounds play with 2.2 seconds to go. Reuter would inbound to Chisholm, who would kick it out to Crawford. The 6’7″ big man took a well contested 3-pointer that beat the buzzer and gave Coronado the 60-57 win.
“It felt good out of the hand man,” said an emotional Crawford, “I hadn’t been hitting my shots all game. But I knew that one was going in.”
The buzzer-beater from Crawford, which was perhaps one of the finest shots of the year in San Diego county, is where this story should have ended. But unfortunately, it was only an introduction to an ugly post-game controversy: