Malibu High boys’ basketball player Corey Cofield II began the second half of his team’s game against Van Nuys High on Jan. 15 by taking the ball and driving powerfully into the teeth of the Wolves’ defense for a layup.
The 6-foot-4 Sharks player continuously attacked the basket for score after score, tallying 21 points in the third and fourth quarters to lead Malibu to a 70-59 comeback win in the second game of the Martin Luther King Day Varsity Boys Basketball Showcase at Calabasas High.
Cofield, 15, finished the contest with 34 points and six rebounds.
Sharks coach Richard Harris said Cofield is the best player he has ever coached. “A lot of times you aren’t supposed to say that, but he is a humble kid,” Harris said. “He is a hard worker. If you tell him something, it is done every time; he doesn’t have an attitude. He’s skilled; he’s explosive.”
Cofield scored many of his second-half points operating out of the high-post area—the edges of the foul line. He posted up whatever Van Nuys defender had the misfortune of guarding him, then after receiving the ball from a teammate, Cofield would turn and face the defender. After a jab step or two and a bounce of the ball, the Sharks’ top scorer would explode to the rim for a layup. All Wolves defenders could do was either swipe at air or foul Cofield as he blew past or above them.
Cofield said playing in the post allowed him to establish a good offensive rhythm. The wing player said he jab-stepped initially to see what the defender would do.
“I make my decision off that,” Cofield said.
Harris said feeding the ball to Cofield in the high-post is a top option in the Sharks’ playbook.
“I know teams will have a tough time guarding him,” Harris said. “In this game, he dominated when we started going to the high post. Teams have to converge on him to help, and that lets us kick the ball to our shooters.”
Malibu trailed, 29-34, at halftime. However, Cofield found his groove once the third quarter began. “I came out and tried to focus on scoring and making better passes,” he said.
He wasn’t the only Shark to get the right basketball mojo going in the second half. Senior sharpshooter Jake Hughes knocked down back-to-back three pointers in the early minutes of the third quarter on his way to a 17-point performance, and his classmate, 6-foot-5 center Canaan Wilson, snagged 12 rebounds and scored six points.
Junior guard Tanner Sausser and seniors David Hudson, Dylan Hicks and Anthony Chandrasena also scored as Malibu took a 50-47 lead at the end of the third quarter and steadily increased the gap between them and the Wolves.
It was Cofield who led the way, driving left, driving right, and finishing fast breaks. Van Nuys couldn’t stop him. The ninth-grader scored on almost every other Sharks’ possession before he rang up eight of the team’s nine final points to put the game away.
Cofield said when his teammates score he gets easier avenues to the rim. “It leaves me open to play one-on-one,” he said. “If I kick it out, they can make threes. Other teams have to play them out there. That opens it up for me.”
Other teams that competed in the Calabasas High showcase were Marshall, Mira Costa, Sylmar, Campbell Hall, Knight and Calabasas.
Malibu defeated Nordoff, 72-29, two days after the MLK Day victory. Cofield scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Hicks had 11 points in the win. The Sharks lost to St. Bonaventure 68-56 on Jan. 19. The squad had a 7-2 record at press time.
Wilson said in December he and his teammates can figure out how to win any game. “None of us like losing and we know that no matter how big the other team’s lead is we can still win the game,” he said.
Hudson said they want to be the best Malibu team ever. “A playoff run is our goal and winning our division,” he said. “We have never had a team with this much drive.”
Harris said the Sharks have a roster full of skilled players. “I want us to take it one game at a time, and play each game like a championship game.”