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CdM breaks through

Girls' Basketball

Sea Kings use team effort to defeat Saddleback, winning their first CIF playoff game since 2001.

February 16, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

CORONA DEL MAR — Corona del Mar High senior Melanie de Arakal loves her football analogies.

Before the CIF Southern Section Division 3A girls' basketball playoffs began, she pulled out another one. She said she saw the New York Giants do something similar during pre-Super Bowl television coverage.

During a CdM girls' basketball team meeting, de Arakal handed everyone a poker chip. The chip was supposed to represent the individual accomplishments and accolades of each individual player.

"Are you going to play for that chip, or are you going to throw the chip in, go all-in and play for the entire pot?" de Arakal said. "CIF is the entire pot. I gave everyone a poker chip, and I said, 'Are you all-in or not?' And they all threw their chips in. It's no longer about that one chip, it's about the entire pot."

Talk about motivation to play team basketball. On Thursday night, the Sea Kings did something that was even rarer than a royal flush.

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They pulled away late to defeat Saddleback, 37-28, in a first-round Division 3A playoff game. It is CdM's first playoff victory since 2001.

The No. 10-seeded Sea Kings upped the ante. They will play at No. 7 La Canada in a second-round game Saturday night.

"I'm really happy for this group," CdM Coach Mark Decker said. "It's a different team than last year, and despite our record in league [1-9], they completed hard. We actually played some of our best games against Woodbridge and Uni. I'm just happy for them, because they've talked about this since last summer. They've been just a fun group to be with."

De Arakal led all scorers with 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers. But Corona del Mar (11-16) definitely relied on the team aspect. After the starting five struggled to start the game, Decker subbed five-for-five. Senior Amy Hoogenboom, sophomores Katie Scott, Keaton Gaughan and Kate Thompson, as well as freshman Maria King, came off the bench.

The bench gave CdM a shot in the arm, scoring five unanswered points to tie the score at 8-8 after the first quarter. Thompson in particular, a junior varsity call-up, stepped up big all game long and finished with seven points.

Thompson's three-point play with 2:53 left in the game gave CdM a 29-28 advantage.

"I am so proud of her," said Hoogenboom, who scored three points and had a team-high eight rebounds. "I'm just proud of this team. Regardless of how many years you've been playing varsity, everyone just came to play. Nobody gave up, that was the key."

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