Inside O.C. basketball this week (1-15-13)


After last week's games, I looked into retiring from basketball coverage for the rest of the year.

How can anything match the hype of the Mater Dei-St. John Bosco game?

Can any game top the El Toro-Mission Viejo game? That was the perfect way to go out.

But let’s take a look at the week ahead and see if anything can match last week, or should I just go ahead and file my retirement papers?

Welcome to the inside look at the O.C. boys basketball scene:

Freeway League showdown on tap

Sonora and Troy are both 3-0 in  the Freeway League going into their game Wednesday night at Sonora. As the great Michael Buffer would say, “Somebody’s 0 has got to go.” Sonora is 17-2 overall and Troy is 16-4. This should be a fun night. Ben Stiver leads Troy by averaging 17.1 points per game. Jimmy Golden leads Sonora at 20.3 points. He has topped 30 points three times this season.

Don’t forget about the other guys

Mater Dei junior Stanley Johnson is the best player in the county, and his teammate Elijah Brown can beat you from the perimeter and take you off the dribble. But don’t overlook the other players on floor for the Monarchs. Mario Soto is averaging 6.2 points a game, James McGee averages 6.1 ppg, and Jordan Strawberry is averaging 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Andrew Tisdale averages 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds. Freshman MJ Cage made a couple of big baskets last week against St. John Bosco. And don’t leave Chris Nealey open (just ask the Braves). There are a lot of different components to this Mater Dei team. Good luck trying to slow it all down. This week the Monarchs are at Servite on Wednesday, at home against JSerra on Friday and then head back east to face St. Edward of Ohio on Monday.

The emergence of Lamont Tyler

Villa Park’s Lamont Tyler hadn't been much of a scoring threat in recent games until he scored 28 points in a 68-66 victory over Brea Olinda last week. He followed that with a 27-point effort against Canyon. Thanks to those two performances, Villa Park begins the week in first place in the Century League. The Spartans should get through the week without losing, setting up a showdown with Foothill on Jan. 25.

The Golden West League undefeated

Loara, Ocean View and Westminster are all 2-0 in the Golden West League as play begins this week. Thanks to the schedule-makers, those three teams will be squaring off against each for the next week. Ocean View is at Westminster on Wednesday; Loara is at Westminster on Friday, and Loara visits Ocean View on Jan. 23. My pick to survive the stretch undefeated: Ocean View. In his past six games, Ocean View’s Kendall Small is averaging 22.3 points a game and shooting 54.7 percent from the field.

Max in effect at Mission Viejo

I got a good look at Mission Viejo's Max Redfield on the basketball court this past Friday night during the Diablos' game against El Toro. Redfield was a terror on the court. He scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Is it possible to keep Redfield out of the paint? Probably not. Redfield came back Monday in a 64-35 victory over Capistrano Valley with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Redfield and the Diablos  have two more games this week: at Laguna Hills on Wednesday and then a showdown at Tesoro on Friday. I expect two more double-doubles from Redfield.

Fountain Valley and Edison meet

First place in the Sunset League will be on the line Wednesday when rival Fountain Valley and Edison meet. The game is at Edison. (On Wednesday at Fountain Valley is the big Fountain Valley-Los Alamitos wrestling dual. Who’s coming with me?) Back to basketball … Fountain Valley and Edison are both 3-0 in the Sunset League. In three league games, Barons senior guard Josh Armstrong is averaging 24 points a game. Edison’s three league victories have come by a combined 11 points. Something tells me this game will be decided in the final seconds of the fourth quarter … might even go to overtime.

JSerra and Orange Lutheran colliding Wednesday

The Lions opened up Trinity League play with consecutive losses to Mater Dei and St. John Bosco. JSerra bounced back last week with victories over Servite and Santa Margarita. Now comes perhaps the biggest game of the season as the Lions welcome Orange Lutheran into the Fieldhouse on Wednesday. The Lancers are also 2-2 in league, with victories over Servite and Santa Margarita and losses to Mater Dei and St. John Bosco. If neither team is able to knock off the top two, Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, then they must take care of the other three teams. That’s why this game is so important. Who wins it?

South Coast rivals in a Sea View game

I’m still confused by the South Coast/Sea View League super-power conference. Here is why … Next week, San Clemente visits Dana Hills in a big South Coast League wrestling dual (see you there). But this week, those two teams meet in a Sea View League basketball game. I can’t keep up with all of this. Let’s try and keep it simple. Both San Clemente and Dana Hills enter Wednesday’s game 2-0 in the South View or Sea Coast League. On Monday night, behind 32 points from Sam Darnold, San Clemente defeated Trabuco Hills, 69-56. Dana Hills also played Monday, losing to El Toro, 58-54. Cory Blau led Dana Hills with 20 points. Winner of Wednesday's game takes over sole possession of first place.

The Calhoun starting 5

There are a lot of good players in the county. Here is my starting five. (Of course, I get first pick.) Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei); Evan Zeller (Mission Viejo); Max Redfield (Mission Viejo); Tanner Lancona (Tesoro) and Kendall Small (Ocean View). We’re going to run, press and make life miserable for the opposition. Even Steve Fryer could coach this team to victory.

My county top-10 vote for this week

I still think Mission Viejo is the second best team in the county, but I dropped the Diablos after they lost to El Toro this past Friday nights. Here is my top 10: 1. Mater Dei; 2. JSerra; 3. Orange Lutheran; 4. El Toro; 5. Mission Viejo; 6. Tustin; 7. Tesoro; 8. Villa Park; 9. Foothill; 10. Sonora.

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