With the school's championship football team breaking new ground in the state playoffs a few miles away, one might forgive the Corona del Mar High boys' basketball team for perhaps thinking touchdowns more than field goals Saturday night.
It was, perhaps, as good a way as any to explain a horrific shooting performance and subsequent scoring drought that proved too much to overcome in a 54-43 loss to Tustin in the championship game of the Corona del Mar Beach Bash tournament at CdM.
After holding an 11-10 lead at the end of the first period, then connecting on a 12-foot jumper early in the second quarter, the Sea Kings (4-1) produced just two field goals over the next 18 minutes and 10 seconds of play.
With the hosts making just three of 20 field-goal tries in the second and third periods combined (15%), Tustin cruised to a 34-21 lead at the end of three quarters and the Sea Kings never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
After making five of 11 shots in the first eight minutes, CdM was seven for 33 the final three periods (21.2%) and wound up shooting 27.3% for the game (12 for 44).
Included in that futility was an 18.8% proficiency from three-point range (six for 32).
"We missed a lot of shots," CdM Coach Ryan Schachter said. "[The Tillers, who claimed their second crown in as many years of the tournament] went 2-3 zone and I thought that would work to our advantage. We just missed a lot of good shots.
"We were hitting those [shots] all weekend and we are a good shooting team." Schachter said.
After CdM went up, 15-12 with a pair of foul shots by Austin Ridge, Tustin scored seven straight points to fuel a 9-2 run to end the half, at which time the Tillers led, 21-18.
After a CdM three-pointer by Tyler Lopp with 5:16 left in the third period — the only points of the quarter for the hosts — Tustin closed the quarter on a 10-0 spurt that featured seven points from senior Rob Nelsen.
CdM, which helped force 13 Tustin turnovers, eight more than the Sea Kings, used defensive pressure, foul shooting and a three-pointer from Robby Bracho to pare the deficit to 37-30 with 4:17 left in the game.
But Tustin junior T.J. Shorts, a 5-foot-6 point guard, scored 15 of his game-high 19 points, including all 11 of his free-throw attempts, in the final 5:39 to help the Tillers, who defeated CdM in the semifinals of the tournament last season, another championship trophy.
"Give [the Tillers] credit," Schachter said. "They made plays in the third quarter and they made their free throws [19 for 21 in the game]."
CdM attempted just two free throws over the first 26-plus minutes of the game and finished 13 for 15 from the foul line.
Tustin won the rebounding battle, 34-20.
"We didn't attack their press early to try to score and we were tentative in transition," said Schachter, who is not helped by missing three players due to that extended football season, including junior starting guard Bo St. Geme.
"[St. Geme, who starts at receiver for the football team] is probably our best all-around guard, so it's difficult," Schachter said. "He can shoot it, pass, penetrate and defend. So that hurts [not having him]."
Seniors Quinn Bassler and Connor Sage are also expected to contribute once their football assignment concludes.
Sam Kobrine, a 6-1 sophomore, came off the bench to lead CdM with 11 points, while Bracho, Blake Flamson and Jeff Johnston each had six.