FILE: Justin Ayubi shoots over a defender while Loxly Johnson (4) watches during the 2022-23 season. Ayubi, last year's MVP, is returning as a coach for the Islanders this season. Staff photo by Willem Quigley.

The Coronado Islanders boys basketball team’s season came to an end on Valentine’s Day, after a nail-biting 53-50 loss to Mount Carmel in the first round of the CIF San Diego Section playoffs.

It was the lone home defeat of the season for the Islanders, who finished the season 21-8. Mount Carmel improved to 13-16 and advanced to the next round after losing its final three regular season games.

Despite a valiant 24-point effort from senior Justin Ayubi, and 9 points from junior guard Ben Lee, the Islanders were vanquished. 

Although the season did not end as he had hoped, Coronado Coach Anthony Ott praised his players for their ability to play together, making sacrifices that proved they valued team success over personal success. 

“They evolved from boys into young men.”

-Coronado Boys Basketball Coach Anthony Ott.

“I am most proud of how the team played for one another. Everyone made sacrifices for the betterment of the team. They evolved from boys into young men.” Ott said. 

As for next year’s Islanders squad, there will be no shortage of returning talent, he said.

Returning talent

Lee, Tekur Velazquez, Loxly Johnson, Kyle Kuester, David Abdul samad, and Sam Dulin are coming back to play for Ott next year with the same goal: Win a championship.

Ott said that winning is the one remedy for the sickness that comes with falling short of their goals and expectations this year. 

“We had the talent and will-power to win a CIF championship this season, and we fell short of our goal,” Ott said. “The only way to take away that sting is by coming to an understanding we were not prepared as we thought, and need to make the necessary adjustments to make our goals come to fruition.” 

In order to ensure the team has done all they can to prepare for next season and the goals that come with it, Ott said that the team will undergo a rigorous strength and conditioning program, as well as compete in several summer tournaments. 

‘We are not done’

After a 2022-23 campaign including highs such as making the championship round of the Holiday Classic and beating Scripps Ranch on senior night, the lows including losing in the first round of the playoffs.

The Coronado High boys basketball team lost a heartbreaker on Feb. 14, losing 53-50 to Mount Carmel in the first round of the CIF playoffs.
Coronado High School honored its four seniors during the final regular season boys basketball game on Feb. 10. The players are (L-R) Justin Ayubi, Shane Gillard, Darren Hopkins and Nolan Reuter. Staff photo by Craig Harris.

Ott said that this portion of a text message he sent to the team group chat illustrates how he feels about his players:

“So proud to be a part of your journey. You all matured, illustrated a new level of commitment, passion, and enthusiasm. It showed. For the seniors, thank you. I appreciate you for your leadership and determination. We can all learn a lot from you guys. Please carry those wonderful qualities into the next chapter of your life. It will undoubtedly take you to places you could never imagine. 

“For the returning players, we are not done. We are collectively building a foundation that will catapult our program into a conversation we deserve to be in. Please remember what you witnessed last night: an opponent celebrating in elation on our floor, because their actions proved they wanted it more. This off-season will contain pivotal moments in our growth… moments we must embrace to put us in a position to win a championship. 

“To everyone, I am honored to have been a piece of forever memories that were created. Memories that hold a close place in my heart. Thank you for becoming men before our very eyes. Job is still not done, for all of us.”

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The Coronado News is a 24-hour news website and direct-mail free newspaper to all residents and businesses of Coronado as we cover city government, schools, businesses, entertainment and the Navy.

Cade Cavin is a sophomore at Point Loma Nazarene University with a double major in Multimedia Journalism and Business Administration. Aspiring to get into the scouting industry, and eventually an NFL Front Office, he has spent time as a sportswriter for PLNU school paper.