Inside O.C. basketball this week (2-5-13)
Rumor has it this year's Nike Extravaganza finally ended. I haven't been able to confirm.
What a long two-days and nights of basketball action. Luckily, at least for me, I was only on the schedule for one game Friday night. I think Steve Fryer packed a pillow and a change of clothes for the two late sessions. I think he's still there. Somebody better go check on him.
Let's take a look inside the O.C. basketball scene going into the final week of the regular season.
1. Mamadou what he wants to do
One of the highlights of the Nike Extravaganza was finally seeing Brethren Christian's Mamadou Ndiaye in action. I had read a lot about him and seen some video, but I was interested in finally seeing the 7-foot-5 senior in action. I think he did OK. Ndiaye scored 34 points (14 of 18 from the field), grabbed 26 rebounds and blocked four shots in a victory over Servite on Friday. The only problem: 6 of 20 from the free throw line. But let's not dwell on the negative. In four games last week, Ndiaye scored 154 points (38.5 average) and grabbed 69 rebounds (17.2 average). Those are some ridiculous numbers. The Warriors, ranked fourth in the latest CIF-SS Division 5AA rankings, are certainly a team to watch during the playoffs.
2. SVC quietly building a program
Saddleback Valley Christian could be on the verge of something big. SVC, coached by Tom Lewis, showed some of its talent in a victory over Santa Margarita on Friday at the Nike Extravaganza. Freshman Ershad Hunt scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds with five blocked shots. Junior guard Miles Seward had 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. SVC is ranked sixth in the CIF-SS Division 5AA rankings, but are there five teams better than them? The 5AA playoff race will be an interesting one.
3. Century League title race approaches the finish line
One of the toughest league races in the county will finally come to an end this week as the seven-team Century League will crown a champion. Foothill and Villa Park enter the week tied for first at 9-1, but things quickly changed after Tuesday. Brea Olinda upset Foothill and Canyon did the same thing to Villa Park. Thursday night, all three teams are in play for the league title. Canyon is at Foothill and Villa Park hosts Esperanza. This is going to be wild.
4. Down the stretch we go in the Freeway League
The game of the week and the game of the year in the Freeway League is Thursday when Sunny Hills visits Sonora. The teams were tied for first entering the week. In their first meeting on Jan. 18, Sunny Hills stormed to an 80-62 victory. Ryan Tan went for 25 points and Tim Ahn dropped 23 on Sonora. The Raiders have to do a better job against that duo this time around. In that game, Sunny Hills made 11 3-point field goals. The game will be played at Sonora, so you can expect the Raiders faithful to be out in force.
5. Ocean View seeking Golden West League title
Led by Kendall Small and Tyler Burch, Ocean View is on the verge of another Golden West League title. Since losing to Mission Hills on Dec. 27, Ocean View has won 11 of its past 12 games. This week, Ocean View (8-0) has road games against Orange and Loara to close out what should be a perfect run to the league title. The sophomore duo of Kendall Small and Tyler Burch has been leading the way. Last week, Small averaged 17 points a game. Burch closed last week with a 24-point performance (10 of 16 from the field) in an 88-68 victory over Durango of Las Vegas. Ocean View is ranked fourth in the latest CIF-SS Division 3A poll.
6. Josh Armstrong leads the way
Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos met last Friday with one game separating the teams in the Sunset League standings. Josh Armstrong made it a two-game advantage for the Barons. The senior guard scored 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out eight assists in the 79-72 double overtime victory. The Barons also received double-doubles from Jackson Gatlin (19 points and 13 rebounds) and Tanner Trounce (17 points and 10 rebounds). The Barons are one victory away from clinching the outright league title, but somehow, according to the latest CIF rankings, they aren't ranked ... interesting.
7. From way downtown
Earlier this year, I asked if anybody in the county could top Canyon's JoJo Ballestero as the county 3-point king. It appears that the answer is no. Ballestero leads the county with 83 made 3's, averaging 3.3 a game. The 83 is good enough for third in the Southern Section. However, Peter Abramsky (Capistrano Valley Christian) and Max Stone (Corona del Mar) are certainly within striking distance. Abramsky entered this week with 78 3's and Stone had 76. Canyon wraps up the season Thursday against Foothill.
8. Third place on the line in the Trinity League
Orange Lutheran and JSerra begin the week in a battle for third place in the Trinity League. Orange Lutheran lost to Mater Dei Tuesday and JSerra beat Santa Margarita. Both teams are now 4-5, setting the stage for Thursday's showdown. The Lancers, behind Payton Banks' 34 points, won the first meeting 77-71, on Jan. 16. Jamal Aytes had 31 for the Lions. You have to like Orange Lutheran's chances to complete the sweep and secure third place with the game on their home court. Then again, I'm not so sure after watching them Tuesday.
9. Free throws win games
We've all seen games, at all levels, that are lost at the free throw line. Especially in the big games, things always come down to the small things (such as free throws). Taking a look at the Southern Section leaders, it become apparent that the guy you don't want to send the free throw line is Santiago's Alex Robertson. Robertson, a senior, is shooting 87 percent from the free throw line (122 of 141). JoJo Ballestero is making 84 percent of his free throws. With the game on the line, I'm giving the ball to those two.
10. My top-10 vote this week
Here is how I voted this week for the O.C. top 10: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Mission Viejo; 3. Foothill; 4. Orange Lutheran; 5. El Toro; 6. JSerra; 7. Villa Park; 8. Tustin; 9. Aliso Niguel; 10. Sunny Hills.