Basketball Roundup: League play coming right up

A challenge took place Tuesday night at Fountain Valley High and University High in Irvine, one that pitted six Sunset League boys' basketball teams, against six teams from the Pacific Coast League.

After five hours and six games at the two host sites, the leagues split their meetings.

Among the four local schools, Edison, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Marina, in the Sunset League-Pacific Coast League Challenge, only Marina, was able to came away with a victory.

The Vikings downed Irvine, getting 14 points apiece from sophomore wing Buzz Stafford and junior guard Daniel Neff, who hit four, three-pointers. Stafford and Neff, both transfer students, were playing their first game for the Vikings.

Senior guard Derek Mallard had six assists as Marina improved to 6-10 overall.

"We've started out games a little slow defensively, if we are going to contend in the Sunset League, we need to start better by not giving up easy baskets in the first half," Marina Coach Nick Racklin said. "We didn't play all that well and were still able to put up 62 points, which is a great sign for us since we were averaging only about 54 points per game."

Tuesday's win followed an 83-37 home nonleague win Friday over Liberty Christian. Mallard scored 15 points, senior forward Matt Dispenza had a game-high 17 points, and junior guard Greg Fronek Jr. and sophomore guard Ethan Young scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Both wins give Marina some momentum heading into the start of the Sunset League season, which opens at 7 p.m. Friday. The Vikings start their league slate on the road against a team that had a strong nonleague season and is perhaps one of the favorites for the league title, Edison.

"The Sunset League is very evenly balanced this year," Racklin said. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We are excited to go to work and study each team as best we can to put our guys in a situation to be in the ball game heading into the fourth quarter.

"Edison and Los Alamitos, I think, are the two best teams. We're just going to try and surprise some people. I think we are better than our record shows because of our tough preseason schedule. Of our 10 losses, only one of those teams has a losing record, and most of those teams are going to win their leagues."

•Edison, preseason No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division 1A, took on Woodbridge Tuesday and lost a 76-74 double-overtime thriller. Junior guards Jake Haar and Brae Ivey both scored 21 points, and AJ Garrity scored 19 for the Chargers who ended nonleague play with a 13-3 record.

Edison Coach Rich Boyce called Tuesday's matchup a "good test" for the upcoming Sunset League season.

"We played hard but came up a little short," he said.

Edison also took part in another type of challenge Friday, the Orange County North-South Challenge. The two-day event, which ended Saturday, was played at El Toro High. The Chargers defeated San Clemente, 81-66. Ivey led all scorers with 28 points, and senior guard Nick Rubio scored 14.

Also during the winter breaker, Edison captured the championship of the Estancia-Tustin Tournament by defeating Servite, 54-46, in the title game Dec. 30. Ivey and Haar scored 17 and 14 points, respectively.

Ivey was named tournament MVP, and Haar and Garrity made the all-tourney team.

Now, the Chargers' sole focus the remainder of the regular season, is the Sunset League race.

Edison is seeking its first league title since 2011.

"The Sunset league will be a lot of fun," Boyce said. "Just as in past years, anyone can win on any given night. [The] league is full of great coaches which will make for tough games."

•Fountain Valley is the defending Sunset League champion. The Barons wrapped up their nonleague schedule Tuesday at the SL-PCL Challenge where they got off to a cold start and ended up falling, 80-60, to Beckman. Sophomore guard Calvin Le connected on five, three-point shots and scored 17 points, and senior guard Richard Le also scored 17 points for the Barons, who missed their first 14 shots.

Beckman hit five of their first eight three-point shot attempts to bolt to an early lead.

In a nonleague home game Monday, Fountain Valley whipped Segerstrom, 70-41. The Barons jumped out to a 15-0 lead.

Senior guard John Volkert had five, three-point shots and led the scoring with 15 points. Lee scored 13, and senior forward Jordan Venters scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds.

Fountain Valley (7-10) begins defense of its Sunset title Friday at home against Los Alamitos.

"If we are shooting good, we can compete," Fountain Valley Coach Roger Holmes said. "We are out-sized at every position and have to really be good offensively to overcome that. These two games (Beckman, Segerstrom), were a perfect example of that.

"Our lack of size is hurting us on the boards and that is a tough thing going into league. All of the teams in league play very hard and are very physical. We can't match up size-wise and will need to shoot well to be close in games."

•Huntington Beach took on Corona del Mar at the challenge Tuesday, and the Oilers fell, 62-51, to the Sea Kings who were 12 of 19 from three-point range.

The Oilers are 3-13 heading into Friday's league opener at Newport Harbor.

"We finally are getting to full strength and now it's just a matter of getting on the same page," Huntington Coach Fabian Luna said. "League looks to have two elite teams in Edison and Los Al. [The] rest of us are battling to finish in that top three. I think if we keep progressing, we can make an impact."

In the two other SL-PCL Challenge games Tuesday, Los Alamitos (12-4) edged Northwood, 59-58, and Newport Harbor (9-7) beat University, 88-65.

•Ocean View has dominated for nearly two decades in the Golden West League, having won 15 of the last 16 league championships. The Seahawks start their drive for another title Friday when they travel for a 7 p.m. game at Loara.

Ocean View heads into league play at 4-10 overall.

"We had a very tough preseason, but our goal all along has been to gain the experience that will help us be successful in league," Ocean View Coach Tim Walsh said. "The Golden West race is wide open, and we feel like we have an opportunity to compete for the title. We start league play on the road against one of the better teams in our league, so we will be tested right away."

•Brethren Christian is gunning for its sixth consecutive Academy League championship. The Warriors take that first step Friday in Cerritos when they take on host Whitney at 7:30 p.m.

"We are excited to defend our Academy League title," BC Coach Jon Bahnsen said. "We should have a good shot at defending the title if we continue to play the way we have to start the season."

BC concluded the first half of its season with a record of 11-2. The Warriors took part Friday at the Orange County North/South Challenge, and lost, 64-48, to Laguna Beach at El Toro High. Sophomore forward Cameron Griffin and junior guard Brandon Bryson both scored 15 points for the Warriors, who had tied the score, 43-43, with six minutes to play.

"After [playing] 13 games in 25 days, we looked like we got physically and mentally tired at the end of the game, but it was still a good effort against a very talented Laguna Beach team," Bahnsen said.

Prior to the North/South Challenge, BC had won its division at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic on Dec. 30. Griffin was named tournament MVP and Bryson made the all-tournament team as the Warriors won their division at the event for the second-straight year.

The Warriors will play host to the 12th annual Small School Showcase Saturday at Liberty Christian School in Huntington Beach. The Warriors will face Riverside Christian, a team it defeated, 82-66, Dec. 30 in the final of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic, at 5 p.m.

BC is ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 5AA; Riverside Christian is No. 4 in Division 5A.

Saturday's Small School Showcase schedule (at Liberty Christian School): 11 a.m.: Liberty Christian vs. Desert Christian (girls); 12:30 p.m.: Liberty Christian vs. AAE (boys); 2 p.m.: Chadwick vs. Desert Christian (boys); 3:30 p.m.: St. Margaret's vs. Riverside Christian (girls); 5 p.m.: Brethren Christian vs. Riverside Christian (boys); 6:30 p.m.: Orangewood Academy vs. Providence (girls); 8 p.m.: Costa Mesa vs. Flintridge Prep (boys).

Girls' Basketball

Huntington Beach took the tournament championship of the Costa Mesa Winter Classic during the winter break. The Oilers (13-2) won their first four tournament games by defeating Mission Viejo (53-29), Rocklin (66-55), and El Toro (54-35). In the title game, they upended Lakewood, 59-37.

Senior guard Paola Roa had 14 points in the final and was named tournament MVP. Senior guard Stephanie Louie added 11 points and made the all-tournament team.

Huntington, ranked tied for No. 4 in the preseason CIF Southern Section Division 1A poll, plays host to Newport Harbor at 7 p.m. Thursday in a Sunset League opener for both teams.

"I really feel that the Sunset League is well balanced and should be very competitive," said Huntington Coach Russ McClurg, who took the Oilers to the league title in 2012. "I feel we should be a very tough opponent for any team in the league and I think we have a good chance to compete for a league title."

•Fountain Valley ended nonleague play Saturday against Cypress, and lost, 66-30, to the visiting Centurions. In a nonleague game Jan. 2 at Staples Center, the Barons were defeated, 49-37, by Torrance.

At the Costa Mesa Winter Classic during the winter break, Fountain Valley posted a 3-1 tournament record and finished in fifth place.

The Barons (7-9) begin Sunset League play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Los Alamitos.

Fountain Valley last won a Sunset title in 1996.

"This year's Sunset League has a variety of different types of teams," Fountain Valley Coach Cory Clarke said. "Huntington Beach has to be the favorite with the best guard combo in the league. They are strong at every position. Edison has good size, athleticism, and will cause many individual match up problems for other teams. Los Al has a great point guard and many good shooters. Marina is loaded with varsity, experienced seniors. Their guards can beat you off the dribble, shoot the three and their posts rebound the ball really well. Newport has had a good tournament season and have some good young players.

"For us, we are going to have to play better than we have pre-league, if we want win games."

•Marina earned its eighth victory of the season Saturday when the Vikings downed visiting Westminster, 72-61, in nonleague play. Senior guard Danielle Kennedy had 18 points, junior forward Kydell Pearson 11 points and six rebounds, senior guard Melissa Lindquist 11 points and eight assists, senior guard Madison Yutkins 10 points, junior forward Megan Lewis nine points and eight rebounds, and senior forward Natasha Mangham had seven points and 10 rebounds.

Kennedy also scored 14 points and Lindquist had 10 points, three assists and four steals, in a 44-42 nonleague loss to visiting Woodbridge Friday.

Previously, Marina took fourth place at the Larry Doyle Tournament Dec. 28.

The Vikings, 8-7 overall, begin their Sunset League schedule at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against Edison.

"We are excited to begin Sunset League play," Marina Coach Carol Osbrink said. "It is a tough league and if you expect to win in the Sunset League, you have to be at your best in every game. Huntington Beach is top-ranked once again, but you have to be prepared for every game and you better not look past anyone. This year's Vikings are very competitive, much stronger and quicker, and we will 'battle' in every game we play."

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