ST. MONICA — It may have been so-called “ugly,” but St. Monica’s boys’ basketball team was able to hold on to a late lead and topple nearby Malibu, 43-35, Monday on campus.
St. Monica Head Coach Khi-Minh Jung was happy to collect the victory, but admitted that his Mariners did it in sloppy fashion.
“It was an ugly game,” Jung said. “But we did a decent job on defense.”
The Mariners came out strong, building a 7-2 lead after the first quarter, limiting Malibu to few clean looks. But, Malibu was able to stick with St. Monica, whittling down what grew to a 13-point third quarter lead to five with a minute left in regulation.
With the game close late in the fourth quarter, St. Monica was able to benefit from poor Malibu ball handling and timely free throw shooting by Brandon Hualde to salt away the victory.
Hualde led all scorers with 13 points. Troy Whiteto added nine for the Mariners. Junior guard Jack Platner paced Malibu with nine points. Freshman center Justin Holmes played solid defense and chipped in eight of his own.
Despite Jung’s critique of his team, Malibu head coach Bobby Tenorio thought St. Monica played well in rebuffing his team’s late charge, calling the Mariners “a well-coached team.”
“They’re not bad considering they lost their coach from last season,” Tenorio said of former coach Tony Depa. “Coach Jung has done a great job in such a short time.”
St. Monica improved to 9-4 in Jung’s first season coaching the team after serving as an assistant coach for Santa Monica High School last season. Malibu fell to 4-12 as both teams prepare to open league play in the next week.
Next for the Mariners is a tilt at Westside rival Brentwood today. Brentwood enters the game ranked No. 1 in the latest California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 5AA poll. St. Monica is currently ranked No. 4 in the same poll.
“[The Brentwood game] should be a good measuring stick for us as we prepare for league play,” Jung said.