The Malibu High boys basketball team snagged its first playoff win in a decade in dominating fashion.
The Sharks, owners of a 14-4 record, defeated California Military Institute (CMI), 79-44, on Feb. 16 at Malibu High. The victory propelled Malibu to a Tuesday matchup against La Puenta High in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section 2018 Boys Basketball Championships—Division 5AAA tournament and ended CMI’s season.
The Sharks had a bye in the tourney’s opening round, which was on Feb. 13. They closed the regular season a week before the win over CMI.
Malibu head coach Richard Harris said notching Malibu’s first playoff win after years of not making the postseason or being defeated in the opening round was a great feeling.
“Having a first round bye was really beneficial because it allowed us to rest, recover and review,” he said. “We had an entire week to go over our stuff and extra time to allow our players to prepare themselves mentally for the second season.”
Senior wing player Jake Hughes said he was so excited about the win he could barely sleep when he went home after the game.
“We had a bunch of guys that had never won a playoff game, and now we all have that shared experience of winning a do-or-die game,” he said.
Hughes scored 17 points and his teammate, freshman guard Corey Cofield II, had 22 points and 16 rebounds.
The Sharks never trailed in the contest. They had a 24-11 lead after the first quarter and were up 38 points going into the fourth quarter.
Hughes said Malibu was focused heading into the contest.
“We knew we were the better team, but we didn’t want to go in overconfident,” he said. “That was a big thing that all the seniors were stressing before the game in the locker room—focus on the task at hand and on all the little things and it will all turn out well.”
Harris said his group rebounded fittingly and played strong offense and defense. The coach said Malibu has been playing well and has developed in multiple ways during the season.
“What I’ve noticed to be the key is now at the end of the season we are putting complete games together,” Harris said. “Earlier in the season we would shoot well one game, but wouldn’t rebound well; or we would defend well, but wouldn’t run our sets well. Now we are doing the big things and small things well.”
Malibu has won four of its last five games.
Hughes said he and his teammates aren’t looking past La Puenta.
“We know we have the talent to do great things in these playoffs, but we just have to focus on the game at hand,” he said.
If the Sharks win the quarterfinal game, the team would advance to a CIF final four matchup on Friday.
Harris said getting the intial playoff victory was one of Malibu’s preseason goals.
“Knowing we hadn’t won a playoff game in 10 years was something we really needed to conquer and put behind us,” he said. “It’s really a great feeling.”