MHS boys’ basketball, soccer on pace for league titles

Malibu's Justin Holmes scored 14 points and grabbed 15 rebounds vs. Grace Brethren. Dick Dornan / TMT

With three weeks remaining in the winter sports regular season, the Malibu High boys’ basketball and soccer teams remain on pace for first-place finishes in the Frontier League. Not since 2007 and 2008, when both programs won back-to-back league titles, have the teams been this successful at the same time.

Since returning from a tough Christmas tournament in Florida, the Sharks basketball team has been on a roll. Malibu (13-7, 5-0) has beaten five consecutive opponents in Frontier League play, highlighted by a gutty 55-52 road victory over defending league champion Bishop Diego Cardinals.

Malibu Coach Bobby Tenorio referred to the victory as a “character test and our will to win.”

Buoyed by the result, the Sharks went on to post blowout victories by 29, 32 and 34 points over their next three opponents.

That included a visit from Grace Brethren, which came to the “Shark Tank” last week looking to join MHS in first place. The Sharks had other ideas in mind as they dominated from start to finish in a convincing 64-32 win over the Lancers.

“We came out with energy and played real well,” Tenorio said. “Our defense helped us with easy buckets. I’m really confident and I think we can do it this year.”

A year ago Grace Brethren knocked off the Sharks in Malibu on a last second shot, 43-42. There would be no chance of a repeat loss this time around. Malibu jumped out to a commanding 12-0 lead after the first four minutes of the game and coasted the rest of the way.

Sophomore guard Anthony Kodomichalos knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing with eight seconds left in the first quarter to give the Sharks a 15-5 lead in the opening stanza. Toward halftime, the Sharks used a three-point shot by senior point guard Kyle Sandler and back-to back-power layups from center Justin Holmes to stretch that margin to 24-10 with 3:42 left in the second quarter.

Pat Fontenette then stole a poor Grace Brethren pass and fed Will Rosenthal for a wide-open breakaway layup that increased the lead to 18 points. Moments later, Jack Platner knocked down a triple from the top of the key and Malibu led 33-11 with 1:07 left in the half.

The second half was more of the same as Kodomichalos, Holmes and sixth man Harrison Kaplan took turns scoring as the Sharks sent a strong message to the rest of the league that this might just be their year. Kaplan finished with a game-high 18 points, followed by Kodomichalos with 15 and Holmes adding 14 points.

“I thought we played really well and stuck together as a team,” Kodomichalos said. “As long as we don’t let down on anything, we will do well the rest of the season.”

Holmes is having a monster season. The 6’6” sophomore is averaging a double-double with 18.6 points per game and 14.4 rebounds per game.

“We are playing with great team effort,” Holmes said. “10-0 is our goal and we are halfway there. This was a big statement game for us.”

Meanwhile the boys’ soccer team is off to one of the best starts in school history. The Sharks won their first nine consecutive games before losing to Carpinteria last week. Malibu (9-1, 4-1) is tied for first place with Oaks Christian but won their first head-to-head match-up, 2-1. It was the first victory in seven years by the Sharks on the Lions’ home turf.

Defender Jacob Gooden opened up scoring by getting on the end of a corner kick early in the second half, making it 1-0 Malibu. A few minutes later, Jake Wexler met a cross with a beautiful and commanding header to make it 2-0.

Malibu Coach Lloyd Kinnear was very impressed with another superb performance by the team, especially his defenders.

“We showed initiative attacking and moving forward, and scored goals on two great set pieces,” Kinnear said. “We had good organization in the back and our defenders covered and supported each other wonderfully.”

Senior Sam Haft leads the team with 21 goals in nine games. His average of 2.3 goals per game is the highest in the CIF Southern Section. Teammate Giovani Landou has 22 assists on the season.