League races will go down to the wire

If the first month of the season is any indication of what to expect in the coming weeks, then league races for the local prep basketball teams figure to be intense.

The Sunset League girls' basketball race starts at 7 tonight, with Marina playing at Newport Harbor, Edison going to Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach hosting Los Alamitos.

The chase for the Sunset League boys' hoops title begins 7 p.m. Friday, with Edison entertaining Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach playing at defending champion Los Alamitos and Marina hosting Newport Harbor.

Also at 7 p.m. Friday, Ocean View will take its first step as repeating as champion of the Golden West League when the Seahawks host Orange. The Golden West League girls' basketball season doesn't start until next week.

Both the Brethren Christian's boys' and girls' teams started the week by opening Academy League play Tuesday.

In girls' basketball, Edison and Huntington Beach, which went to Arizona two weeks ago and claimed division (Anderson and Red, respectively) championships at the NIKE Tournament of Champions, are considered the top two teams in the Sunset girls' race, according to Marina Coach Butch Fredlow.

He said the battle for third place will be an "alley fight" between Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, Newport Harbor and his Vikings.

Both Edison and Huntington enter league play with 12-1 records. The Chargers began the season with an 11-game win streak and the Oilers currently are on an eight-game run.

"The girls have really worked hard and the results prove that," Huntington Coach Russ McClurg said. "I tell the girls to stay humble and have great respect for the opponent they are playing. We will continue to work hard and take it game by game."

Ocean View, which finished second to Segerstrom last year in Golden West League girls' basketball, begins league play Tuesday at Orange.

"For the first time since my dad (Ocean View boys' head coach Jim Harris) or I have been coaching this team, we're are favored to win league," Ocean View Coach Kim Morris said. "We have a very good cast back with seven seniors and we have been playing seven underclassmen regularly. We have some experience and size."

As for the Sunset boys' race, undefeated Edison (15-0) might be considered the front-runner for the crown, but Chargers Coach Rich Boyce sees a dogfight looming.

His Chargers did play both Huntington and Marina during tournament play last month, blocking a last-second shot by the Vikings to secure a 40-38 win Dec. 6 at the La Quinta Tournament and three nights later, pulling away in the second half of the tournament's championship game to score a 66-57 win over the Oilers.

"It's going to be a tough, tough race," Boyce said. "I think Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach are playing great basketball and Fountain Valley and Marina are starting to rock-and-roll. Marina nearly beat us and points-wise, it's the closest a team has come to us. I think seven or eight (wins) will win it."

Jerry Simon, in his first year at Marina, begins his first foray into the Sunset League y at home Friday against Newport Harbor.

"There are some very good teams in our league and our kids are looking forward to the challenge," he said. "We are still inconsistent but are playing hard every game. "We have the ability to beat every team in our league but need to bring our best game every night."

Roger Holmes, who coached the previous 16 years at Marina, guides his alma mater Fountain Valley into league play for the first time Friday when the Barons do battle at rival Edison.

"This year, the Sunset League will be as good as it has been for years," Holmes said. "There is some real balance at the top half of the league and the other teams are capable every time out to upset someone. Edison is playing great and is undefeated. They have one of the best guards (Dylan Garrity) in Southern California and will be tough to beat. Los Al is solid again and has played a tough schedule. Huntington Beach has a ton of returners who learned a lot last year and is playing very good.

"We have played pretty good so far this year. We are starting to shoot the ball better and take care of the ball better than we were early in the season. Newport Harbor is so well-coached and is improved from last year. They are a dangerous team for anyone to take lightly. Marina has some athletes, some returners and an all-league player (JJ James). They have played their best against good teams and have the ability to win games."

Huntington Coach Fabian Luna says the boys' race will be "interesting."

The Oilers, who are back in the Sunset League after a stint in the Sea View League, have played this season without point guard and "best player," Jordan Castaneda. The senior, whom Luna said committed to Montana St., suffered a spinal cord injury during a fall league game.

"I think as of right now that Edison is definitely playing the best and Los Al is looking strong, as well," he said. "I feel we are playing well, so I think that on any given night any one of us can beat each other and it will be important to protect home court and try to steal one on the road from someone. We definitely, not being at full strength, have our work cut out for us.

"After that, I think Fountain Valley is playing well and definitely will compete, Marina is playing good basketball and will be fighting, Newport Harbor I have not seen, but they have a very good coach and I'm sure they will be ready to fight. It is a really balanced league and there are very good coaches. I'm really looking forward to playing games and just being a part of the Sunset League again."

Ocean View has ruled the Golden West League the past decade. In 2011, co-Coach Jimmy Harris said his Seahawks will have plenty of competition in their bid to win another title.

"I think there are two other very competitive teams in Loara and Segerstrom," he said. "Loara has a dynamite athlete (Howard Gauta) who also played football, and Segerstrom has this terrific kid (Dathon Spencer), and both of those players have the ability to go off on a team.

"We open against Orange and they, too, are a good team. They might be undersized, but they are real physical and can take teams out of their game. It's going to be tough."

Both the Brethren Christian boys' and girls' teams began Academy League play with success Tuesday, 62-43 and 42-20, respectively, over Crean Lutheran South of Irvine.

"The league race will most likely come down to our team and St. Margaret's," said Warriors boys' Coach Jon Bahnsen, whose team improved to 15-1 following Tuesday's win. "Other teams in league have good records going into league, so I anticipate tough games throughout league, especially on the road. Both Crean Lutheran and Sage Hill only had one loss going into league."

Jeff Wallace's Brethren Christian girls' team ran its record to 12-2 following its win over Crean Lutheran.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World