May 24, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Calvary Chapel battles back and tops Costa Mesa 64-55 to capture first CIF title

Calvary Chapel Coach Jon Hughes cuts down the nets Wednesday as his players look on. (Photos Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone)

The No. 1 seeded Calvary Chapel High boys basketball team overcame a second-half double-digit deficit to defeat Costa Mesa 64-55 to capture the CIF Division 5AA championship before a packed house Wednesday night at Calvary Chapel High. 

Four Eagles players scored in double figures as Calvary Chapel won its first boys basketball CIF championship in school’s history.

“At halftime I told the seniors if this is the way you want to go out, then it’s on you, but if you want a championship, you have to go get it,” said Eagles Coach Jon Hughes. “All season long we played man-to-man but midway through the third quarter we went to a 2-3 zone and it really paid off. To win a title this season is very special because these kids knew at any time we could be shut down because of COVID. But these kids wanted to be in the gym. It’s been awesome.”

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Junior guard Ethan Hanning scored 15 points and Daniel Yardley added 14 points as the Eagles outscored the Mustangs 35-17 in the second half and beat Costa Mesa for the third time this season.

“We’ve been a second half team all season,” said Hughes.

Hanning was thrilled following the game.

“We’ve been working at this since August, this is like a dream come true,” Hanning said. “We continued with our game plan like we have all season long and we started making our 3’s in the second half.”

“They beat us in the first half, but we played a lot better in transition in the second half,” said Yardley, who was a big factor on the boards. “This means the world to us to win a championship.”

Keshawn Johnson scored 13 points and Noah Peters added 10 points to lead Calvary Chapel (22-6) to its 18th consecutive victory.

“I was a little nervous at halftime,” Johnson admitted. “They had the lead and we had our heads down a bit but we picked it back up. We got the ball to our bigs in the second half and we took over.”

Trailing 39-29 at halftime, the Eagles came on a mission in the third quarter. Court Franklin made three straight baskets, followed by Hanning’s four free throws and a bucket as Calvary Chapel cut the lead to 47-40 midway through the quarter.  

”It’s crazy to win a championship,” said Franklin. “It’s my first time ever. We were successful pushing the ball inside in the second half and I think that was the difference.”

Peters then added a field goal and Yardley canned a 3 and a basket to cap an Eagles’ 19-9 run and give Calvary Chapel a 48-47 lead with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter. Calvary Chapel dominated the boards on both ends in the second half and got second and third shots as the offense surged. In addition, the Eagles played aggressive defense and held the Mustangs without a basket for the final 4:28 of the quarter and built a 52-47 lead after three periods.

“In the first half we didn’t take good shots and we were rushing,” said Peters. “We slowed down in the second half and got back into out rhythm.”

But Costa Mesa (15-9) battled back at the beginning of the final quarter and retook the lead at 53-52 after a 3-point play by Blake Wolf with 5:43 to play. However, the Mustangs shooting went cold and the Calvary Chapel offense geared back up. The Eagles went on an 11-2 run to finish the game and secure the title. Johnson and Peters led the final push as the Calvary Chapel converted seven of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.   

The Mustangs used an excellent transition game in the opening quarter to take an 18-14 lead after one period. Aiden Spallone, Gio Quero and Jordan Martin continued the assault as Costa Mesa clearly gained the momentum and was pressing to capture its school’s first boys’ basketball title. Costa Mesa took a 38-26 lead following two free throws by Christian Dasca late in the half, but Yardley drilled a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to cut the lead to nine at the break. 

Spallone led the Mustangs with 15 points and Quero added 11 points.

“We weren’t supposed to be here and nobody expected us to make this type of run,” said Costa Mesa Coach Jesse Mercado. “I’m so proud of our guys. We turned the program around in one year.”

Calvary Chapel captured the Orange Coast League title and then defeated Villanova Prep, Moreno Valley and AGBU in the playoffs. Each of the Eagles playoff victories were decided by single digits.  

The Mustangs defeated St. Monica’s Academy, Hawthorne, El Monte and Valley Torah in the first four rounds of the playoffs. Prior to Wednesday defeat, Costa Mesa’s last loss was also to Calvary Chapel on May 13.

Both teams are off to the Southern California regionals next week.

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—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone