Just the other day in practice, a teammate hit Kevin Fults in the nose, cutting him. The wound didn't heal up in time for the Corona del Mar High boys' basketball game on Tuesday.
Fults, with a scab near the bridge of his nose, split open the original cut with 6 minutes left against Woodbridge. The referees didn't see the blood dripping down the right side of Fults' nose, so CdM Coach Ryan Schachter yelled at them, catching their attention.
The referees stopped the Pacific Coast League game and Fults went to the bench. A Band Aid stopped the bleeding, and it came at a good time. The Sea Kings needed to stop the bleeding on the court as well.
Woodbridge erased an 18-point deficit, and with 5:47 left to play, it tied the game for the first time. Fults returned and helped the Sea Kings stave off a late comeback, holding on for a 60-56 win at home.
The Sea Kings (17-5, 6-1 in league), the only one-loss team in league, are alone in first place. They edged Woodbridge (17-8, 6-2) for the second time in three weeks. A combined five points have decided both matchups.
The only team to defeat Woodbridge in league is CdM, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA poll.
Fults played a pivotal role down the stretch of the second game, converting three of four free throws and grabbing a couple of defensive rebounds.
"He came up big," Schachter said of Fults, who finished with seven points and seven rebounds after getting into early foul trouble. "He's a tough kid. He got hit on [his nose] a couple of times. It's a good thing he's not good looking to begin with."
The second time Woodbridge caught Fults in the nose in the fourth quarter, Fults said he felt it was on purpose. He never retaliated after coming up with the defensive rebound and getting hammered with less than a minute left.
Fults just went to the bench and changed shorts behind the bench as CdM led, 56-50. Blood got on his shorts, and Schachter didn't want to risk having one of the referees take Fults, a good free-throw shooter, out of the game because of the blood on his uniform.
Fults returned to the court and knocked down both free throws and the Sea Kings took a 58-50 lead. Fults, along with Bo St. Geme and Jeff Johnston contributed to CdM's late 12-4 run. The three were the only CdM players to score in the final quarter.
The trio helped the Sea Kings gain control after Woodbridge evened the game at 46-46 with 5:47 left on Jack Elliott's basket in the paint. Elliott (12 points), Truman Brown (15) and Michael Scarlett (13) sparked a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
St. Geme, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, ended the visitors' run by converting a free throw with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. The charity stripe is where CdM put the game away, making 12 of 16 attempts in the fourth quarter. Johnston recorded half of the free throws and wound up with 10 points.
With three league games left for CdM, the Sea Kings control their own destiny. They win out, they're league champions for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
Woodbridge, with only two league games remaining, needs help for a shot to share the league title.
"I told the guys, 'Hey, you play this game, you got three finals on Tuesday. You got your two academic finals during the day and you got an athletic final at night,'" Woodbridge Coach John Halagan said. "Right now, I'd give us a C minus grade, you know, a D plus, based on what transpired the first 8-10 minutes of the game [when we made only two of 16 shots and trailed by 18 points]. You just can't come out with that energy level on this type of stage."
Pacific Coast League
Corona del Mar 60, Woodbridge 56
SCORE BY QUARTERS