Inside O.C. basketball this week (12-12-12)


Hey, what happened to the football season? Did it finally end?

I guess it did, now we turn our attention toward the winter and you know what that means (Spring is right around the corner) and that we no longer have to deal with cold Fall nights outdoors covering football.

Now, we can all sit back and relax in the comfortable gyms across the county and watch some hoops. Sounds fun, right?

Here is the inaugural look inside the OC basketball scene.

10. The rebirth of Fountain Valley

Entering play Monday, which school had the county’s leading scorer, rebounder, blocked shot king, top assist and three-point field goal shooter? Give up? Well, if you read the headline, then you would know. Fountain Valley. Josh Armstrong had 196 points entering Monday. Jackson Gatlin has 97 rebounds and 57 blocks. Armstrong also has 82 assists. Danny Chamaa and Tanner Trounce have 24 3-point field goals. Are the Barons the only team reporting their scores? Or could it be they’re really good. Fountain Valley entered the week with a 9-1 record and is off for the week.

9. The real 3-point king

This appears to be the race that’s worth watching this season. Who will emerge as the county’s deadliest shooter? Despite being six off the lead right now, I’m thinking that JoJo Ballestero (Canyon) will take over the lead at some point. It might be in Canyon’s next game.

8. Washington State-bound Lancona inflicting damage

One of the county’s top players, Tanner Lancona (Tesoro) is off to a “you-better-take-notice” type of start. Lancona, a senior forward has recorded double-doubles in four consecutive games. In his two games, Lancona is averaging 23.5 points and 16 rebounds. In seven games this season, Lancona is 18.9 points. Tesoro is playing this week at the Irvine World News/Gary Raya Classic, Wednesday against Laguna Beach at Northwood at 4 p.m. and Thursday at Woodbridge at 7 p.m. 

7. They are Servite

There is a video on YouTube (search for Servite vs. El Toro kickoff) the final seconds of Servite’s 44-41 upset victory over El Toro on Dec. 5. The sheer excitement from the Servite student section is what high school sports is all about. I was told that the Servite student section is known as "The Asylum". Well, The Asylum is the early leader for OCVarsity Student Section of the Year. Luckily for Canyon, its game against the Friars Wednesday is a home game. Or will The Asylum take over Canyon HS to support the Friars?

6. Small stepping up in a big role

Ocean View sophomore guard Kendall Small has already had a pair of 30-plus nights this season. He had 32 (7-11 from field; 17-21 free throw line) and 31 (9-21 from field; 13-16 from free throw line) in victories over Dominguez and Compton. In five games this season, Small is averaging 26 points a game and he’s shooting 51.8 percent from the field.

5. Never give up on Tustin

We’re early in the season, but one interesting trend is developing around the Tustin hoops team. The Tillers (5-0) rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Santa Margarita in the CdM Beach Bash last Saturday and that made it three victories where the Tillers have rallied for victory. That makes them an interesting pick this week in the IWN/Gary Raya Classic. Tillers have remaining tournament games against Segerstrom (Wednesday) and El Toro (Friday).

4. Predicting the IWN/Gary Raya Classic

There are a lot of really good teams competing in the field at this year’s tournament. It is almost too difficult to pick the finalists, but that’s why I get the big bucks to make bold predictions and then watch as they always come true. This year, I’m picking Mission Viejo to face Tesoro in the final, with the Diablos winning. Or I might pick Mission Viejo against El Toro or even Mission Viejo against Tustin. See, I’m real confident in my picks. Tournament action in the Gary Raya Classic is taking over the county this week, with games at Woodbridge, Northwood, Tustin, Beckman, El Dorado and Irvine. You can’t escape this tournament.

3. North OC Championships outlook

The North OC Championships is always a good tournament. This week, it is taking place at four sites (Troy, Canyon, Sonora and Fullerton). The semifinals and finals will be at Sonora (Friday and Saturday). My pick for the finals are: Canyon over Sonora. Make it happen guys.

2. The first selection to the OCVarsity All-Name team

To be a member of the OCV All-Name team, you have to have some game to accompany your skill. The first member on the team is Brea Olinda’s Vilius Vysniauskas. The senior, 6-5 forward scored 22 points in Brea’s 74-64 victory over Hoover Monday. So far this season, Vysniauskas is averaging 13.2 points. He’s coming off of a 19 and 22-point effort in his last two games.

1. The Big Man in the Middle

Brethren Christian is just four games into the season, but Mamadou Ndiaye is certainly trending up … way up. The senior 7-5 center is already averaging 23.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks a game. Ndiaye is shooting 83.8 percent from the field. The Warriors have a busy week, starting Wednesday at the Oxford Academy Tournament. Will be interesting to see how much damage Ndiaye inflicts on the opposition.

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