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Canyon builds confidence with quality victories

STAFF WRITER

There probably wasn’t a more entertaining league race last season than the one that transpired in the Crestview League. Brea Olinda, El Dorado and Foothill forged a three-way battle to the end.

Canyon was the forgotten participant in last year’s chase, but nobody’s bound to overlook the Comanches this season, especially after their 9-0 start.

Canyon knocked off league rival Foothill, 46-42, in overtime this past Saturday in the championship game of the Santa Ana Elks/Billy Tees Classic at Segerstrom. Under second-year coach Mark Lofink, the Comanches have won two tournaments this month, and are already nearing their win total (10) from 2014-15 campaign.

“Anytime you beat a program like Foothill, it’s a great win,” Lofink said. “But we beat Woodbridge too. That’s a great program. Beat Tesoro, and that’s a fantastic team. Quality programs with quality coaches. All three of those games built our confidence up and will help us moving forward.”

Saturday’s win snapped Canyon’s 11-game losing streak to Foothill that dated back to January 2011. The Comanches went 0-6 in league play last season, and in their two encounters against the Knights, were outscored by a 129-57 margin.

“I can’t tell you how much playing El Dorado, Brea and Foothill has done for these kids,” Lofink added. “It’s not that the schedule is any easier, they’ve just grown up. They were thrust into fire and were forced to figure out how to survive.”

The Comanches are the top-ranked team in Division 2A.

TOC UPDATE

The Nike Tournament of Champions concludes tonight in Phoenix, and for the first time in three years, the tourney’s marquee matchup will not feature Mater Dei.

The Monarchs’ quest for a four-peat ended on the opening day of play when it lost to Our Lady of Good Counsel of Maryland, 49-41. The county’s top-ranked squad bounced back in its second game, besting Miami Country Dade of Florida, 50-40.

Going into Monday’s games, Brea Olinda, Los Alamitos and JSerra also posted 1-1 records in their first two TOC outings.

Fairmont Prep, Huntington Beach and Rosary were all 2-0 as of Monday afternoon, playing in the winners bracket of their divisions.

By tonight, all seven of the county’s representatives will have played four games at Nike’s annual showcase. All of them will return home unquestionably better for having played in the tournament.

DEFENDING HOME COURT

The seventh annual Spartan Classic wrapped up Saturday, and it was host Orangewood Academy that walked away with the championship hardware for the second consecutive season.

Jaqueline Saucedo and Elizabeth Garcia both put up double-digit scoring totals in the 48-30 win over Mark Keppel of Alhambra in the final. The Spartans improved their record to 12-0.

Orangewood’s 18-point victory against Mark Keppel was its closest result of the season. It has beaten its opponents by an average margin of 38 points.

Mark Keppel was one of the 16 schools selected to the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs last postseason. Even if Mark Keppel isn’t as talented as it was a year ago, the Spartans’ triumph speaks volumes about the team Coach Leslie Aragon has built in Garden Grove.

ROAD TRIPS AHEAD

Troy and Orange Lutheran will be leaving the state this weekend to take part in national showcases.

The Warriors will be the only California participant in the 32-team Sandra Meadows Classic held at Duncanville High in Texas. That tournament begins next Monday. Troy will open up against Prestonwood Christian (Texas) in its first round game.

Blackman (Tennessee), Fayetteville (Arkansas) and McEachern (Gorgia) are all state champions from a year ago and potential opponents for the Warriors next week.

Orange Lutheran will be one of 12 teams competing in the Red Mountain Holiday Classic, which begins next Monday, in Mesa, Arizona. The Lancers open the tourney against Loyola Academy (Illinois) in one of the opening night’s marquee matchups.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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