HUNTINGTON BEACH — At one point in the 2012-13 season, the Ocean View boys' basketball team sported a 7-5 record.
On Friday , the Seahawks will play in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A semifinals.
Ocean View, the No. 4 seed, reserved a spot in the 3A Final Four by fending off a late rally by No. 5-seed Northwood for a 68-59 home-court victory Tuesday. The win sends the Seahawks, who have won 16 of their last 17 games, on to a 7 p.m. Friday matchup at top-ranked Bellflower St. John Bosco.
The Seahawks (23-6) came out strong Tuesday. They shot well and played tenacious defense, and turned an early, 6-3 deficit, into a 20-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. They extended their lead to 41-26 by halftime.
"I was really proud of the way we came out and played," Ocean View Coach Tim Walsh said. "We've been preaching about helping each other out, defending the basket, and I thought we did that very well tonight. In the second half, we looked a little tired at times and they were able to break us down a bit with penetration. They put up an unbelievable fight."
Ocean View was one of four local prep boys' basketball teams competing in playoff games at home Tuesday. In two Division 1A second-round contests, both Edison and Huntington Beach were eliminated from postseason play. The Chargers fell, 63-51, to Crescenta Valley, and the Oilers were upended, 63-53, by Valencia West Ranch. In a Division 5AA semifinal, Brethren Christian was eliminated by Sherman Oaks Buckley, 75-51.
Ocean View took its largest lead of the game, 48-29, on a basket by sophomore guard Tyler Burch off a turnover created by senior forward Reo Washington, less than three minutes into the second half. The Seahawks, however, went scoreless the final 5:18 of the third quarter but still took a 48-37 lead into the final eight minutes.
Pacific Coast League champion Northwood mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves slowly chipped away at their deficit and drew to within three points on three occasions in the final 3:39 of the game. The final time came at 62-59 on a layup by senior guard Fernando Rivas with 59 seconds remaining.
As it had started the game, Ocean View closed strong. Junior guard Dillon Reise picked up a loose ball along the baseline and dropped in an eight-foot jumper to make it 64-59. The Seahawks got the ball back with 31.8 seconds left after a turnover by the Timberwolves, and Burch and Reise went on to hit two free throws each in the final 25.7 seconds left, to seal the win.
Kendall Small had another sensational game for Ocean View. Hitting several put-back shots and driving layups, creating turnovers on defense and crashing the boards at both ends of the floor, Small nearly completed a triple-double. He led all scorers with 27 points, pulled in 13 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass, and had nine steals to go with two assists and a blocked shot.
"I'm running out of ways to describe Kendall," Walsh said of the 15-year-old sophomore guard. "When the game gets tougher, the challenge greater, he's better. He embraces the challenge."
Burch finished with 13 points and had three steals, Reise had 12 points and seven rebounds, and senior guard Josh Mishler scored four points to go with six assists and two steals.
"We made the big plays when we needed to," Walsh said. "Tyler [Burch] hit that really big shot and Dillon [Reise] had a big shot from the corner. When you make plays that you need to when the game is on the line, that's special."
Five Seahawks scored in double figures led by Small's game-high 28 points, in an 88-68 second-round win Friday at Barstow (Desert Sky League at-large). Reise scored 19 points, Burch 18 points, Mishler 13 points and junior guard Jelani Jackson scored 10 points.
Small and Reise scored 26 and 25 points, respectively, Feb. 13 in Ocean View's 78-53 first-round win over Laguna Hills (Sea View League at-large).
Now, the Golden West League champs take a 10-game win streak into their showdown with St. John Bosco.
The Braves, who finished runner-up in the Trinity League to Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in Division 1AA, routed No. 8-seed Cathedral, 82-55, in another quarterfinal game Tuesday.
St. John Bosco (22-6) also has two other blowout playoff wins against Buena Park (78-35) and Burroughs Ridgecrest (91-46).
"We're excited for the challenge," Walsh said of the semifinal game. "They are the top dog and a really good basketball team. They haven't been challenged yet in the playoffs, but we hope to give them a real challenge Friday."