Redondo Sea Hawks soar back with 56-44 victory over Mira Costa Mustangs

Longtime Redondo girls coach Marcello Enriquez has led the Sea Hawks to a 10-0 record in Bay League play this year. Photos by Ray Vidal

by Paul Teetor

What a difference three points can make – not just in a game but in a season.

Were it not for Redondo’s three point loss to Culver City last month, Thursday night’s 56-44 beat down of the Mira Costa boys basketball team would have earned the Sea Hawks a share of the Bay League title.

Instead, Mira Costa claimed the league title with a 9-1 record while Redondo finished in second place with an 8-2 record.

So this was a win that meant nothing – and everything.

“Our goal entering the season was to win the Bay League, not to beat Redondo twice,” Mustang Coach Neal Perlmutter said as his players shuffled off the court with thousand-yard stares and slumped shoulders. “So in that sense we’ve accomplished our mission.”

True enough, but the lop-sided loss not only avenged Mira Costa’s 19 point win on their home court last month, but served notice that Redondo hoops is back – and in a big way.

The brutal reality for the Mustangs – who now finish the regular season with a 25-2 record – is that they were never really in this game, never competitive with the Sea Hawks. Indeed, their only lead of the game came at 1-0 when sophomore forward Preston Ezewiro hit one of two foul shots in the first minute.

With a frenzied, full-house crowd screaming their support on Senior Night, Redondo then raced out to an 11-3 lead and never looked back. The Sea Hawks dominated the boards, scooped up every loose ball, blocked shots continually and even dunked on the Mustangs four different times, twice by senior center Cole Stokes.

By the time the Sea Hawk lead had ballooned to 19 points at 42-23 late in the third quarter, it was clear that there would be no miracle comeback on this night, just as it was clear that the Mustang’s dream season was ending on the worst possible note – a crushing, blowout loss to their arch-rival.

The only good news for Costa was that the loss almost certainly knocked them out of consideration for the Open Division in the playoffs, which they never really wanted anyway.

Indeed, Perlmutter said after the game that he hopes they will still get the top seed in Division 1.

As for his analysis of why his team let down so badly, he said it was simple: “It was Senior night for them, the crowd was charged up, and once they got rolling we couldn’t get any momentum. They hit four three-pointers in the first half, and we didn’t hit any.”

In his first year back at Redondo, boys Coach Reggie Morris is leading the school back to the respect it enjoyed when he led the team to four consecutive Bay League titles.

On at least one point, Redondo Coach Reggie Morris agreed: “It was senior night for us, there was a lot of emotion in the building, and we built on that,” he said.

But there is a crucial difference for these two teams as they prepare for the playoffs: this is the last roundup for four fifths of the Mustangs starting lineup while Redondo will get almost all of its top players back next season except for the 6-foot-6 Stokes, who is off to Oregon where he has earned a baseball scholarship as one of the top high school pitchers in the country.

“Most of our kids will be back next season,” Morris said. “We’re excited about this program going forward.”

This is Morris’s second run as the Sea Hawks coach. The first time around he won four consecutive Bay League titles, and got the player pipeline up and running so efficiently that they won four more after he left.

But in recent years the program had fallen on hard times while Costa emerged as the new league power, winning two league titles in Perlmutter’s first five years. Then this past summer Redondo announced that Morris was returning, and soon several elite players were transferring in. 

Sea Hawk freshman S. J. Madison led the Sea Hawks with 13 points in last Thursday’s 56-44 victory over rival Mustangs.

Freshman S. J. Madison led the Sea Hawks with 13 points on a variety of inside-outside moves and showed signs of becoming a dominant player in years to come. Stokes finished with 10 points and five rebounds and two dunks, while Aidan Kwan had nine points on three 3-pointers and Devin Ringer chipped in with 8 points.

For Costa, only senior forward Nick Lundy was in double figures with 15 points, while team leaders Will Householter and Dylan Black both had sub-par games. Householter, who plays so hard that he annually leads the league in floor burns, took several hard falls that left him gasping for breath, but he always got up to keep playing.

Problem was, the Sea Hawks were playing even harder.

“Our loss to Costa last month showed the kids how hard we have to play on every possession, and the focus we have to bring to the game from start to finish,” Morris said. “Tonight’s game gives us a good benchmark of how hard we have to play if we want to make any noise in the playoffs.”

Translation: Redondo hoops is back, and they’re just getting started.

In the early game the Sea Hawk girls completed a season sweep of Costa with a 42-35 win. The league champion girls finished with a 10-0 league record, and 15-11 overall. The Mustang girls finished 4-6 in league play and 18-9 overall.

Contact: Follow: @paulteetor. ER


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