For the past eight years, the Huntington Beach and Ocean View boys' basketball teams have played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and, like so many of their preceding games, Monday's nonleague matchup went down to the wire.
This time, it was Ocean View that emerged victorious.
The Seahawks led from the opening possession to the final horn and repeatedly withstood comeback attempts by the Oilers over the game's final 19 minutes, to take a 45-39 victory.
It was the fourth-straight win for Ocean View, which improved to 8-10 overall.
The loss left Huntington 4-15 overall.
"This was a good win for us, and I'm so proud of the way our kids are developing into a team," Ocean View Coach Tim Walsh said. "At times this wasn't the prettiest of games, but our guys kept battling, kept fighting and came out with the win."
Ocean View scored the first five points of the game, led by nine points (15-6) after one quarter, was up by 11 early in the second quarter, and still held a 22-12 lead with 2:54 remaining in the half. That's went Huntington went on a late roll. The Oilers drew to within two at 22-20 when junior guard Zackery Pannell netted three free throws after being fouled on his three-point shot attempt with 1:05 left before the break.
The Oilers had a chance to tie the score or take the lead in the closing seconds, but missed a shot from three-point range. Ocean View went into half still leading, 22-20.
The Seahawks took their lead to seven points (27-20) on senior guard Angel Nieves' three-point shot one minute into the second half, but Huntington finally was able to tie the score, 29-29, when Pannell scored from beyond the three-point arc off a feed from junior forward Nolan Thompson. The Oilers tied the score one last time (32-32) when junior guard Teddy Bowers knocked down a long-range three with the shot clocking winding down to zero at the 1:04 mark of the third quarter.
It was still a two-point game with Ocean View leading, 41-39, late in the fourth quarter after Huntington junior guard Aikeem Bright scored off a loose ball under the Huntington basket with 1:40 remaining. The Seahawks, though, scored the final four points. In the final minute, Nieves hit a pull-up jumper before junior guard Zarek Osborne came up with a big rebound after the Seahawks missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation, and quickly scored on a spin move for a layup with 14 seconds to play.
Ocean View was able to fend off Huntington in the end. In last year's game between the teams at Ocean View, the Oilers put up a furious fourth-quarter rally to complete a comeback from 16 points down, to knock off the Seahawks.
On Monday, the Oilers again rallied, only to fall short.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Huntington Coach Fabian Luna said. "We started the game slow, and we started out slow in the second half, as well. Our guys battled, though."
Osborne led all scorers with 17 points, and Nieves scored 11 for the Seahawks.
Bright paced the Oilers with nine points.
Both Luna and Walsh said the MLK Day series between the schools will continue in 2015 with next year's game moving back to Ocean View.
"I think it's a great game for the schools," Walsh said. "Our kids get excited for this game. Fabian (Luna) started this when he became head coach at Huntington, and I really like the tradition of this game. There have been some good ones between the schools."
Prior to taking on Huntington, defending Golden West League champion Ocean View upped its league record to 3-0 Friday by knocking off visiting Segerstrom, 67-46. Senior guard Evan Bunin scored 16 points and Nieves and Osborne both scored 15 for the Seahawks.
In Sunset League boys' basketball games played Friday , Edison dropped its first league game, 63-54, at Los Alamitos, Marina downed Huntington, 48-37, and Fountain Valley fell, 67-45, at Newport Harbor.
Junior guard Brae Ivey topped Edison (15-4, 2-1) with 23 points in its loss to a Los Alamitos team that now leads the Sunset race at 3-0.
Marina put three players in double figures in its home win over Huntington. Senior guard Derek Mallard scored 12 points, sophomore wing Buzz Stafford 11 points, and junior guard Daniel Neff had 10 points. Senior guard Ryan Morrissey of Huntington (1-2 league) led all scorers with 13 points.
Senior guard Cory Bitzer scored 12 points for Fountain Valley (7-13, 0-3) in its loss to Newport Harbor (2-1 league).
The Sunset League race resumes at 7 p.m. Friday when Edison hosts Huntington and Marina entertains Fountain Valley. Friday's Golden West League schedule sends Ocean View to Orange for a 7 p.m. tipoff. In an 8 p.m. Academy League game Friday, Brethren Christian hosts Downey Calvary Chapel at Ocean View High.