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Girls' Basketball: Sea Kings earn upset

Corona del Mar edges San Juan Hills to advance to CIF Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals.

February 26, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Corona del Mar High's Kelly Tam puts up a shot under pressure against Charter Oak during a CIF Southern Section Division 3AA quarterfinal game on Wednesday.
Corona del Mar High's Kelly Tam puts up a shot under… (Don Leach, Daily…)

In the spring, Corona del Mar High's Kelly Tam played on the same girls' club basketball team with the starters on the San Juan Hills basketball team.

"I know how they play," Tam said.

Tam reminded her club teammates how dangerous she can be with the ball in her hands.

In the final minute of the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs, the host Sea Kings went to Tam with the game on the line on Wednesday. She hadn't made a basket all night. She wasn't even CdM's first option.

Nevertheless, Tam took the team's last two shots, a three-pointer and a layup, and she made them both to rally the sixth-seeded Sea Kings to a 38-37 upset of No. 3 San Juan Hills.

The home fans stormed the court afterward, and with good reason. The Sea Kings came back from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to reach the semifinals for the first time since the 1982-83 season, when they went on to win the Division 3-A title.

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The Sea Kings (21-8) are one victory away from making their second section finals appearance in school history. They travel to No. 2 Lake Elsinore Lakeside (22-6) for a semifinal game on Saturday at 7 p.m.

"This is incredible," said CdM Coach Mark Decker, who in his eight seasons in charge had never seen the home crowd mob his players the way it did on Wednesday. "[The Stallions] were in control [with a 23-7 lead at halftime] and they played well. But we were just not playing well. We came into the locker room at halftime and we couldn't decide which was worse, our [three of 19 shooting on] offense, or our defense, because they were both terrible. We … just panicked and we weren't playing good defense [in the first half].

"What did [the Stallions] score, 14 points in the second half? I don't care what else is going on offensively, but our defense has to get us going. Then we needed more ball movement, getting Natalia [Bruening] and Krista [Anderson] some touches."

Anderson and Bruening, CdM's 6-foot-2 and 6-3 post players, were the first two options on the Sea Kings' final possession.

Bruening helped cut the Stallions' lead to eight with a three-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter, giving her nine points. Bruening had made two of the third quarter's last two baskets, and the other was a three-pointer by Maria King, who finished with 11 points.

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