Saddleback, Riverside Set for Showdown
Little has separated the Riverside and Saddleback men’s basketball teams this season. Riverside (22-2) has won 16 consecutive games and Saddleback (19-3) its last 13. They are tied for first in the Orange Empire Conference at 6-0.
But one will move ahead when the teams play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Riverside. It’s the final game of the first round of conference play.
Riverside, ranked sixth in the state, leads the conference in scoring with an average of 96.5 points. Saddleback, ranked eighth in the state, is best in defense (68.7).
The teams were the favorites before conference play began, but more out of habit than on the basis of known talent. Riverside returned two players and Saddleback three. Riverside won the conference last season and Saddleback the season before.
Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel talked a great deal about Riverside’s depth and balanced scoring. He also is worried about the Tigers’ trapping defense.
But he sees some strong points for his squad. One is the play of sophomore center Eric Ambrozich who is averaging 16 points overall, but 20 points in conference. Anthony Carter, a sophomore guard, is averaging 18 points overall.
“The key is if we can rebound with them,” Brummel said. “And if we can contain them a little bit as far as letting them get to the basket . . . Riverside is the toughest place in our conference to play. They have a crowd and some noise.
“We’re been playing well too. Eric (Ambrozich) will cause them to make some kind of adjustment that will give us something somewhere else. If they play him straight up then maybe we can take advantage of that too.”
For Riverside, sophomore forward Ronald Kenan is averaging 22 points and seven rebounds and guard Rick Hite is averaging eight assists, tops in the conference.
“These kids think they are going undefeated,” Riverside Coach Bob Schermerhorn said. “I told them it would take 12-2 in conference. And you know kids. They said, ‘Forget that Coach, we’re going 14-0.’ And you know what, they just might do it. I don’t think they’re good enough, but they may do it. It’s the craziest thing.”
Women’s basketball: Golden West, which has won five consecutive conference titles and seven of eight, is in outstanding position to win another.
The Rustlers (21-5, 5-0) have a bye tonight but are 2 1/2 games ahead of Cypress (17-8, 3-2), Saddleback (12-7, 3-2) and Riverside (8-10, 3-2). Orange Coast (16-9, 2-3) is in fifth.
The Rustlers start the second round of conference play Friday at Orange Coast.
Cypress, the most likely team to have a shot at Golden West, has lost starting forward Christine Collins for the season because of a knee injury.
The Chargers are led by sophomore center Sara Works, who has set several records this season. She already has become the leading scorer in a single-season and career at Cypress. She is also the leading all-time scorer in Orange County.
Works needs six rebounds to become Cypress’ all-time rebound leader. Works has 565, five fewer than Yolanda Hearvey (1992-1994).
Football signings: Six members of the Rancho Santiago football teams and five from Golden West have announced plans for next season.
Rancho Santiago quarterback Simon Fuentes, who set the Rancho Santiago single-season record for touchdown passes with 19, is going to Eastern Kentucky, a Division I-AA school. He is from Garden Grove High.
Ernest Wilson, a running back from El Modena High who gained 786 yards and had a team-high 13 touchdowns, is going to Nevada.
Edgar Macias, an all-conference offensive lineman, will play at San Diego State and defensive linemen Brian Townsend and Mike Fulton are going to Chico State. Macias is from Mater Dei and Townsend and Fulton both played at Villa Park.
Kevin Pola, a fullback from Santa Ana High, plans to play at Chapman. Pola gained 496 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
Golden West’s Van Tuinei (Westminster High), an all-state defensive tackle, is headed for Arizona. He was in on 39 tackles.
Jimmy Nolan, a defensive back from Mater Dei, and Vince Tauanuu, a defensive lineman from Westminster High, are going to Utah. Nolan had a team-high three interceptions and 54 tackles and Tauanuu had 42 tackles.
Lance Lee, a linebacker from Westminster High who had 67 tackles, is going to Tennessee Martin and offensive lineman Ed Hwang (Los Amigos) is headed for Montana State.
Volleyball signings: Vanessa Dahl and Becca Foltz, members of Golden West’s State championship volleyball team, have signed to attend four-year colleges.
Dahl, an all-state middle blocker from Huntington Beach High, is going to St. Mary’s. Dahl was the Orange Empire Conference player of the year.
Foltz, an outside hitter from Foothill High, is going to California. She was the two-time most valuable player of the State tournament. Foltz had a team-high 261 kills.