CORONA DEL MAR — The first time Deondre Bryant crashed onto the Corona del Mar High basketball court, he cut open the bottom of his chin.
Three minutes into the second quarter of Tustin's third game in the Beach Bash tournament, Bryant bled. He left the game, then walked toward the Tustin bench and waited for the athletic trainer.
No matter how many times the trainer wrapped a large Band-Aid underneath Bryant's chin, the bleeding never seemed to stop. The Band-Aid never seemed to stay on, either.
Bryant played through on Friday night, never shying away from contact, or taking big shots.
With nine seconds left to play, Bryant gave the Tillers a one-point lead. Six seconds later, the 6-foot-6 big man fell to the floor and sealed the Tillers' victory against CdM.
Bryant took a charge, allowing the Tillers to hold on for a 50-48 victory. When it was over, Bryant ripped off the Band-Aid and celebrated with his teammates.
The Tillers (3-0) advanced to Saturday's tournament championship game against Santa Margarita (6-1) at 5:30 p.m.
"It was a fun win," said Bryant, adding that having to switch Band-Aids after practically every break during the game was irritating.
Before Bryant left the gym, he saw the trainer again.
He could smile now. He rallied the Tillers from a seven-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, scoring six of his 17 points in the final quarter.
Each time Bryant scored in the fourth, the senior put the Tillers ahead. All six of his points in the quarter came in the final 1:51.
The same player who hurt CdM (2-1) by scoring nine points in the first half did so again. Bryant, who also grabbed eight rebounds, came up big down the stretch.
After Max Stone (20 points) converted his fifth three-point play, giving CdM a 48-47 lead with 20.9 seconds left to play, Coach Ryan Schachter called a timeout. He instructed his Sea Kings to get the ball out of the hands of Nick Hornsby, Tustin's top scorer, who finished with 18 points.
Hornsby eventually got the ball and attacked the middle of the floor, where a second defender met him. Instead of taking a tough shot in the air, Hornsby passed the ball to a wide-open Bryant on the left block, where the left-handed Bryant easily scored to put Tustin up, 49-48.
"It would've been nice if we helped off someone else," Schachter said. "What are you going to do?"
What the Sea Kings are going to do next is play in Saturday's third-place game at 4 p.m. against Vista, a CIF San Diego Section Division 1 finalist last season, instead of the main event. The pool CdM played in was arguably the tougher of the two pools in the five-day tournament, with the likes of Tustin and Edison.
The Sea Kings got past Edison, but not Tustin, a CIF Southern Section Division 3-AAA quarterfinalist last season.
"Every time we play Tustin, it's a war," Schachter said. "I'd just like to come out on top once."
Beach Bash Tournament