It only took eight minutes for the Corona del Mar High girls' basketball team to send a message Friday night in its Pacific Coast League opener.
"Dominate" is not a word the Sea Kings have been able to use in league in years, but the Sea Kings were dominating visiting Irvine after the first quarter.
They went on to earn a 47-34 victory, perhaps setting the tone for what they hope will be a positive league season.
The Sea Kings have finished last in league each of the last three years, earning just two combined wins in that time. But the tide may be changing.
"We had something to prove," said junior forward Maria King, who had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds Friday night. "We haven't done well in league in the past, and we really wanted to destroy this team ... We've had a year to gel. We play more together this year."
Corona del Mar (11-4) set the tone by taking a 15-3 lead after the first quarter. Sophomore post player Krista Anderson set the tone in the quarter, scoring six points, while senior guard Keaton Gaughan added a couple of easy baskets — including a three-point play. Two of Anderson's lay-ups came on nice passes from the Sea Kings' other sophomore post player, Natalia Bruening.
"We normally balance each other out," Anderson said.
Bruening did not shoot as much in the league opener as she did in Tuesday's Battle of the Bay victory, but that was fine. She still was a big factor with eight points, 22 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Defensively, teams will find it challenging to get past the 6-foot-3 Bruening and the 6-2 Anderson, who tied King for the team lead with 12 points.
"Our defense was phenomenal when we came out," CdM Coach Mark Decker said. "We were moving our feet, we were talking to each other, we were giving up one contested shot. If we do that, we should get the rebound, and we did. And we've got people who can finish on the break. Really, it was our defense that fueled everything.
"Our whole defense is structured toward taking away the three, and making girls score over Krista and Natalia. Most teams can't do that ... That's our advantage and we're going to use it."
Irvine (8-9), which was led by senior Deven Hidalgo and her 13 points and five steals, never really recovered from the hosts' first-quarter onslaught. The Vaqueros cut the lead to nine points twice in the third quarter, but that was as close as it would get.
King and sophomore Kelly Tam (four points) each made a pair of free throws to push CdM's lead to 39-25 after three quarters.
Senior guards Kate Thompson and Chanel Wosoughkia each added two points for CdM. It's a relatively short seven-player rotation for the Sea Kings, who like to play a high-low offense.
The Sea Kings continue league play at Woodbridge at 7 p.m. Tuesday. That should be a good test, as Woodbridge is the three-time defending league champion and went a perfect 10-0 in league last year. The Warriors also edged University, 34-32, in their league opener Friday night.
But CdM, which is on a five-game winning streak, doesn't look like it will be intimidated.
"I truly feel that if we play well, we can beat any team that we play the rest of the year," Decker said. "Beckman and Woodbridge are probably the two toughest teams [in league], and I think we're in that mix this year. I really do. If we play 'D' like we did tonight and hold a team to 34 [points], we're going to win a lot of games."
Pacific Coast League
Corona del Mar 47, Irvine 34