Basketball season is underway, and Santa Margarita Catholic is off to a pretty good start under new boys' coach Jeff Reinert.
The former college coach will guide the Eagles onto the floor at Corona del Mar today (Saturday) at 5:30 p.m. to play Tustin in the championship game of the Beach Bash. Tustin beat CdM to reach the finals.
Santa Margarita has won six of its first seven games under Reinert, who replaced Eagles legend Jerry DeBusk following his retirement last season. Under DeBusk, the Eagles won two state titles and five Southern Section championships in his 20-year tenure. He ended his career—including time spent with Newport Harbor—with a 640-254 record and 71.6 winning percentage. At Santa Margarita, his teams went 467-136 (77.7).
DeBusk leaves some big shoes to fill, but Reinert is pretty tall and wears some sizeable shoes.
Among the teams Margarita has beaten so far are L.A. Crenshaw and Trabuco Hills in the El Modena tournament. The Eagles lost to Canyon and their outstanding player, JoJo Ballestero, who dropped 23 points on SMCHS in a 71-56 victory.
After a couple of 50-plus victories this week, SMCHS got to the Beach Bash final by beating Vista, 49-35, on Friday. Four players are averaging double-figures in scoring so far, Joe Furstinger (16.3 points), Tyler Strauss (13.3), Ryan Merritt (11.0) and Austin Bennett (10.0).
Pretty good stat here: Eagles are shooting 84 percent from the free-throw line. Furstinger has made 16 of 18 (88.9 percent).
This should be a good game and a good test for Reinert and his players. Tustin is usually one of the best teams in Orange County. Not surprisingly, the Tillers are ranked No. 7 in the Orange County top 10.