June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Marina ends the streak and earns first CIF title with victory over LB Poly

Marina High School’s players and coaches celebrate after earning a CIF title Saturday. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

By ALEX SUAREZ

For OC Sports Zone

Marina High School boys basketball won its first CIF championship with a 53-49 victory over Long Beach Poly Saturday afternoon in the 2A final at Edison High School.

The Marina program was 0-4 in CIF final appearances going into Saturday’s game.

“We went into this thing knowing Poly had 21 or 20 CIF championships and we had zero,” said Marina Coach Nick Racklin. “I think that was motivation enough for our guys to just say why not, why not Marina? My challenge to them today was could we box out better than we did against San Gabriel Academy and could we be tougher. We certainly met both of those goals today.”

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Marina (26-7) went into halftime with a 34-22 lead, shooting 6-17 on 3-pointers. The Vikings allowed LB Poly to bring the game to a one possession game but pulled out the win late after clutch free throw shooting. Marina finished 7-of-7 on free throws.

“We were still mad about last game, we should’ve won by more,” said Marina’s Barak Simon. “We wanted to get that back here today.” 

Simon led the Vikings with 19 points and three 3-pointers. Dylan Gomez finished the game with 11 points while Mark Yeager had nine points. 

After reaching the finals three years ago the Marina coaching staff was not prepared to head back to school without the championship hardware. 

“We really didn’t want to go back to the school and give the speech that we were up 12 at half, but they were just better athletes,” said Racklin. “I was not prepared to give that speech again, that’s why I was pretty emotional lifting that plaque up.”

Marina’s last trip to the CIF finals was in 2021 when the Vikings lost to Glendora 53-50 in the 3A finals.

Jovani Ruff was the leading scorer for Long Beach Poly with 19 points. Giovanni Ofoegbu finished with 13 points and Austin Unegbu had 10 points. 

“This is my third championship loss in a row,” said Poly Coach Shelton Diggs. “I kind of know how to get back up and get ready for state. We just have to regroup and get ready to go on a state run.”

Both teams are headed to the Southern California regional that begins Tuesday.