Postseason ends for three MHS teams

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Senior Gio Landou and the Malibu boys soccer team won 12 games this season. Photo courtesy of Lloyd Kinnear

After stunning regular season success that resulted in two league titles and a national ranking, the Malibu High School boys basketball, boys soccer and girls water polo teams saw their seasons end last week with losses in the California Interscholastic Federation playoffs.

The boys basketball team, which went undefeated in Frontier League play with a dominant run of performances en route to a league title, came across a very talented Chatsworth Sierra Canyon squad whose athleticism caused too many problems for the Sharks. Despite game-highs of 28 points and 16 rebounds from center Justin Holmes, Malibu succumbed to the Trailblazers, 64-53, in the CIF Division IVAA playoffs.

“We gave Sierra Canyon all they could handle,” Malibu Coach Bobby Tenorio said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win. To be 18-8, I will take it any day. To go 10-0 in league was special. When you win, it’s magical. I’m happy for these guys.”

The game was tied early on at six apiece when the Trailblazers went on a 9-0 run to take a 15-6 lead.

Holmes kept Malibu (18-8) in the game in the second quarter by scoring all of his team’s seven points in the period. But Sierra Canyon’s 2-2-1 full court press created many Malibu turnovers and the lead slowly extended to 25-15 at halftime.

The Trailblazers came out in the second half and employed a 1-3-1 half-court trap that frustrated the Sharks time and time again. The Sierra Canyon lead grew to a game-high 14 points at 37-23 with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter.

Holmes scored three consecutive layups to cut the deficit to eight but Sierra Canyon pushed the lead back to 53-39 midway through the fourth quarter. Malibu guard Anthony Kodomichalos did all he could by knocking down three three-pointers in the final period, but it wasn’t enough as the Sharks’ season came to a close.

“I’m really proud of the community of Malibu for sticking together and being here for us,” Tenorio said. “We are not a team that is a doormat school anymore. We are here to compete and I expect the same results next year.”

Moving from the hardwood to the pool, the girls’ water polo team hosted La Salle in the first round of the CIF Division VI playoffs. While the Sharks had recently capped off a successful season with another 2012 Tri-Valley League title, the La Salle Lancers put them under heavy pressure early when they jumped out to a commanding 8-0 lead.

The Sharks, who replaced almost all of their starters from a year ago, responded with a furious comeback, outscoring La Salle 10-5 over the last three periods. However, the early deficit proved too much to overcome as the Sharks fell 13-10.

“I don’t care what kind of level you are playing (youth to Olympic) coming back from an 8-0 deficit, to almost take the game is an amazing feat,” Malibu Coach Meredith Butte said. “I am extremely proud of the girls’ heart, dedication and trust in each other. That was what was most evident to me. Even though the team lost, they gained team characteristics that they can use later in life.”  

The Sharks (16-11) won their sixth consecutive league championship this season and will be returning most of its starters and players for next year.

The MHS boys soccer team hosted Wilson of Hacienda Heights in a wild card game in the CIF Division V playoffs, after a season in which the young footballers came out of nowhere to crack the top-100 national rankings by sports website Maxpreps.com.

The Sharks bossed their visitors around the field for most of the game, outshooting Wilson 15 to two and drawing eight corner kicks to just two for the Wildcats. Still, MHS (12-5-2) was unable to break through for a goal in either regulation or overtime. With a 0-0 tie, the game headed to a penalty shootout, which the Sharks lost 4-2.

“We just couldn’t find the back of the net. The effort was excellent and that’s all I can ask for,” Malibu Coach Lloyd Kinnear said.

The Sharks were without the services of starters Sam Haft and Luke Campbell due to injuries. Their absence hurt the powerful MHS offense that scored 70 goals on the season.

“You need everyone to be healthy to help things go your way,” Kinnear said. “But I was very happy with the season. The kids played at a different level technically than they have in the past. I definitely look forward of taking care of business next year. Malibu will be a force to be reckoned with.”