The first full week in December traditionally has been the week that the Ocean View High boys' basketball tournament gets underway. Such was the case again this year, but on Tuesday, the annual event, that has drawn some of the top prep teams to the Ocean View gymnasium had a new look and feel to it.
For starters, the tournament — formerly known as the Tournament of Champions — has been christened the Jim Harris Memorial Tournament of Champions, in honor of late-Ocean View Coach Jim Harris, who in October after a battle with cancer. His presence was surely missed Tuesday, but he'd likely be proud of what the Seahawks accomplished on the court.
Ocean View routed Manual Arts of Los Angeles, 90-48, in the first game of the tournament. The Seahawks ran out to a quick lead and never let up on the Toilers.
Jimmy Harris, who served as co-head coach with his father and now shares the same role with Tim Walsh, was pleased with his team's effort. Harris and Walsh were able to insert their entire lineup into the action and the game used a running clock in the fourth quarter.
"It was a good start," Harris he said of opening night win. "We expected to serve up a gameplan to prepare for an athletic team (Manual Arts), and they were athletic, but our guys played well right from the beginning. Conor (Clifford) really kick-started us. He played pretty well."
Ocean View bolted to a 16-6 lead midway through the opening quarter. The Seahawks went on to score the final seven points of the quarter, starting with a steal and layup by freshman guard Kendall Small. Senior guard Cristian Rivera hit a thee-point shot and senior guard Eric Belgen scored on a soft hook from inside the key to take the score to 29-12. Clifford, the Seahawks' 7-foot center, scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the quarter.
The lead grew to 20 points (32-12) on two free throws by senior guard Matt Aldanese in the first minute of the second quarter. The biggest lead of the half was 22 points.
Although the Seahawks were in complete control by halftime, Harris saw room for improvement.
"We did get a little sloppy in the first half," he said. "We weren't [identifying] man-in-transition situations. We talked at halftime and made some adjustments, and I thought our guys did a nice job of correcting things in the second half. They never let up."
Two free throws and a three-point shot by Aldanese in the first 33 seconds of the second half pushed the lead to 54-27. The Seahawks also went on a mini-scoring run to end the third quarter and carried a 78-32 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Rivera scored 16 points and Belgen and Small both scored 10.
After the game, Harris thought his father would echo his sentiments regarding the Seahawks' play.
"He's say the same thing I did," he said of his first-half reflections. "He honed in on all aspects of the game, even when we had big leads, like we did tonight. It was all about playing with integrity for him."
Between 12 and 16 teams have annually competed at past Tournament of Champions events. This year's tournament includes just eight teams and started a day later (Tuesday) than its usual Monday opening. In addition to Ocean View and Manual Arts, Rancho Verde, Narbonne of Los Angeles, Saddleback Valley Christian, Clovis West, King of Riverside, and Killarney of British Columbia, Canada also are competing at the five-day event.
Ocean View returns to tournament play at 3 p.m. Thursday to face Rancho Verde. Other games Thursday at Ocean View pit Narbonne against Saddleback Valley Christian at 4:30 p.m., Clovis West against King of Riverside at 6 p.m., and Manual Arts against Killarney in the 7:30 p.m. night cap.
The tournament continues Friday and concludes Saturday.
The Warriors opened their season at the Godinez Tournament, where they went 3-2. They posted victories over Bolsa Grande, Katella and Segerstrom, and lost to both El Toro and Laguna Beach.
Junior Mamadou Ndiaye was named to the all-tournament team. The center averaged 22.8 points, 13.2 rebounds and 6.8 blocks per game. He recorded a triple-double — 15 points, 13 rebounds, a school-record 15 blocked shots, in a 68-43 win Nov. 28 against Bolsa Grande. Junior Dakota Warren also had a triple- double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and didn't commit a turnover against Segerstrom.