Inside O.C. basketball this week


Welcome back.

We survived the holiday season (crowded mall parking lots and stores, the long list of tournaments, classics and showcases) and now we’re settling into the best time of the year … league play.

This is where we find out if a team is real or not. Are you ready?

Let’s step back inside the O.C. boys basketball scene.

10. Double-Doubles are good for Brethren Christian’s health

Through 13 games, Brethren Christian’s big man on campus – the 7-foot-5 Mamadou Ndiaye -- has recorded double-doubles in 12 of those games. With the Warriors returning to the court this week for three games in Academy League play, Ndiaye is averaging 27.3 points (top per-game average in the county), 13.2 rebounds and 5.3 blocks. He is shooting 81 percent from the field. In his last game before the break, Ndiaye scored 40 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked six shots.

9. Wild times on deck down south

South Coast League basketball is always a wild ride. Good teams, good coaches and fired up fans. This week the five-team, ultra-competitive league – made up of Mission Viejo, Tesoro, Aliso Niguel, El Toro and Capistrano Valley - starts league play with some eye-opening match-ups. Mission Viejo will be host to Aliso Niguel on Wednesday and then visits El Toro on Friday. Tesoro will be host to El Toro on Wednesday. Aliso Niguel hosts Capistrano Valley on Friday. That’s a good schedule of games, and you can bet that the gyms will be crowded for each one.

8. Speaking of crammed-packed gyms

The South Coast League has some of the best fans in the county. You can always expect great support. So who has the best student section in the league? I’ve never covered a game at Aliso Niguel, but I’ve had the privilege of attending games at the other schools. My pick: Capistrano Valley. Let’s see if anyone can wrestle that title away.

7. Mad Max Thurman closing in

Canyon’s JoJo Ballestero is still holding onto the county lead in made 3-point baskets with 61 as of Tuesday. Not too far behind him is Mad Max Thurman of Sunny Hills, who had 55 as of Tuesday. Canyon has games against El Modena and Villa Park this week. Sunny Hills has games against Fullerton and Sunny Hills. Can Ballestero hold off Thurman? I expect Ballestero will still be in control next week.

6. Kendall Small doing big things

Ocean View sophomore guard Kendall Small is on a mission. The 6-foot guard is averaging 23.8 points, 2.4 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 steals per game for the Seahawks (9-5), and he is shooting 53 percent from the field. This week, Small and the Seahawks have games against Santa Ana and Segerstrom as Golden West League play opens. Look for a big week from Small.

5. On the road again

Mater Dei played its first 15 games of the season on the road before its home opener this past Friday against Santa Margarita. Now the Monarchs are hitting the road again, for their next three games. On Wednesday, they are at St. John Bosco of Bellflower for the Trinity League showdown of the year (until they meet later in the season at Mater Dei). On Friday, Mater Dei is at Orange Lutheran, and next week the Monarchs are at Servite. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mater Dei goes 3-0 in this streak.

4. Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco

This is the game of the week. Wednesday night, the Monarchs and Braves face off in the first of their two league games this season. Last season, Mater Dei defeated St. John Bosco, 86-71, and, 83-62. This game has some serious D1 talent on the court. Senior Isaac Hamilton leads Bosco by scoring 23.9 points a game. Junior Daniel Hamilton is averaging 14.1 points. Sophomore Tyler Dorsey is scoring 19.5 points. Mater Dei has great players, too, starting with Stanley Johnson and Elijah Brown. Johnson, a junior forward, is averaging 18.6 points a game, while Brown is at 18.4. Steady point guard Jordan Strawberry runs the show for the Monarchs. Good luck getting a ticket for the game. If you don’t, make sure to follow me that night on Twitter @DamianCalhoun, because I will be in the building.

3. Century League shaping up for a battle

Somehow, someway, there will be a league champion in the Century League. And the champion will be …Your guess is as good as mine. Villa Park, Canyon, Foothill and Brea Olinda have established themselves as the contenders. Those teams started the week with an overall record of 52-15 and a league record of 10-2. The Century games to watch this week: Foothill at Brea Olinda (Friday), and Canyon at Villa Park (Friday). Also, check out the result of Tuesday’s Villa Park-Brea Olinda game.

2. DaSilva to Da-Rescue?

One of the county’s more consistent scorers is University’s Chris DaSilva. DaSilva, a 6-4 senior forward, was averaging 25.3 points as the week began. The Trojans had lost four consecutive games as they headed into Pacific Coast League play this week. With DaSilva leading the way, it will be interesting to see if University can turn things around. DaSilva is also averaging 13.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

1. My county top-10 vote this week

I don’t have anything to hide. Here is how I voted this week in the county boys basketball poll: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Mission Viejo; 3. JSerra; 4. Orange Lutheran; 5. Tesoro; 6. El Toro; 7. Tustin; 8. Villa Park; 9. Foothill; 10. Aliso Niguel.

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