MHS Boys Basketball Wins League Title on Senior Night

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The Malibu High boys basketball team had reason to smile after clinching the Frontier League Championship at home against Grace Brethren. Seniors were also honored during the final home game of the regular season. From left: Hunter McMillin, Jordan Newt, Cade McMillin, Dillon Orian and Cordell Newton.

Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” couldn’t have taken a bigger bite out of the boys basketball Frontier League this season than the Sharks of Malibu High. 

The Sharks ran the table en route to the conference title with an 11-1 league record, capped off by a season-ending win, 78-54, Friday night at home against Grace Brethren. Friday also marked a celebration of this year’s graduating seniors from the team. Now, they gear up for the state playoffs. 

Malibu coach Richard Harris is excited for the postseason. 

“Whatever it brings we will try to be ready,” he said. “We will bring whatever we can.” 

Junior guard Cordell Newton said the Sharks are prepared for the playoffs.

“We have to play 10 times harder than we have been in this league,” he said.

On Sunday, the Sharks will find out who they face in the playoffs. The first round begins at home on Wednesday, Feb. 18, Harris said. 

Malibu’s title comes after a 2013-14 season in which the team finished 8-20 overall and 1-9 in the conference. This year, Malibu posted a 13-11 overall record.

Friday evening started with the Malibu community recognizing senior members of the dance squad, cheer team and boys basketball team at center court as part of Senior Night tradition. It ended with the Frontier League champ basketball squad spraying non-alcoholic bubbly on each other in celebratory fashion. 

Senior Malibu wing player Hunter McMillin scored the game’s first two points, then Grace Brethren’s Jonathan Aguilar knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Lancers a 3-2 lead. Malibu’s defense took over after that. 

The Sharks pressure defense, led by McMillin and Newton, harassed the Lancers’ ball handlers, while the Sharks’ frontcourt made things difficult in the paint for the Lancers. By the end of the first quarter, Malibu led 27-3. 

As Malibu turned up the pressure on defense, Sharks point guard Jordan Newt began cooking on offense. After a 0-4 start from the field, Newt knocked down mid-range jumpers, lay-ups and one three-pointer. By halftime he had 16 points to lead Malibu, which was up 50-22. 

The second half of the game was more of the same from the Sharks. At several moments 

Malibu’s lead ballooned to 30 and 31 points, and all the way Newt was leading the charge with jump shots, forays to the basket and threes. He finished the game with 30 points. 

Harris said Newt is the Sharks’ leader on and off the court. 

“He has a lot of energy,” he said. “The guy can score. He has really good ball-handling skills. If anyone guards him one on one they have a very difficult time.” 

To stay consistent on the court, the 5-foot-9 Newt, who is averaging over 20 points a game, practices certain shots repetitively. 

“I’m small, so I have to have a jump shot,” he said. “I have to be able to get my shot off in a couple of quick dribbles.” 

McMillin scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds, had two steals and two blocks. Newton scored 11 points, had four steals and one block. Senior Michael Novak contributed nine points and junior Trey Cotwright had eight. Senior Dillon Orian had six points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Junior Dane Marshall had two points and two blocks. 

Malibu’s regular season ended it better than it began. Malibu had a tough opening season slate that featured games against bigger schools such as Rancho Mirage, St. Genevieve, Oxnard and Calabasas. Malibu started the season with a 2-10 record. 

Harris said he worried some people would get discouraged because of the losses. 

“But we were playing the toughest teams in the city,” he said. “I was telling the team to ‘keep their heads up. I am preparing you for something at the end of the year.’ I would prefer that instead of a patty cake schedule at the beginning of the season.” 

Newton said the tough early schedule prepared them. 

“We knew who we were going up against,” he said. “If we could compete with them, we could definitely compete with anyone who is in our league.” 

Harris said the season started to turn around when Malibu beat Bernstein, a Hollywood-based team, on Dec. 29 in the D1 Bound SoCal Xmas Classic at LaSalle High School. 

“[Bernstein] was up 17 points in the third quarter, and we came back to get the lead and won in double overtime,” he said. “Jordan had 44 points in that game. The guys saw that we were able to beat a team that is really athletic, we were able to overcome a really big lead. After we have only lost two games.” 

Newt said winning the league title is the greatest feeling he has ever had on a basketball court. 

“This is my first time every winning league,” he said. “I knew we had a good team. We just all came together so well.”