Fri, Dec 13 2013 10:59 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The 2013-14 high school basketball season has tipped off, with some not-so-surprising and some surprising results.
After scoring a hotly contested runner-up finish in last year’s San Diego Section Division IV championship game to Army-Navy Academy, the Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders expected to return as one of the Metro Conference’s powerhouse squads.
The Crusaders, 2012-13 Mesa League champions, have not disappointed their fans after opening the season with a perfect 6-0 showing at the 12-team Eagle Classic hosted by Olympian High School.
Mater Dei Catholic blew past Castle Park by a score of 66-33 to tip off tourney play on Nov. 29, and followed with victories against Patrick Henry (63-40 on Nov. 30), Rancho Buena Vista (83-43 on Dec. 2), Chula Vista (78-55 on Dec. 3) and Grossmont (55-49 last Friday).
The Crusaders closed out tournament play unbeaten after topping previously unbeaten San Marcos, 49-45, last Saturday in the championship game.
Seniors Johnathan Dutra and Robert Harris each scored 12 points for MDC in the tourney finale while Dutra had 14 points and senior Iman Chatman-Dixon had 13 points in the Crusaders’ semifinal win over Grossmont.
Dutra earned honors as tournament MVP while Chatman-Dixon was named to the all-tournament team.
Five Metro teams participated in the season tip-off tourney. Olympian finished 4-1 in fifth place, followed by San Ysidro in eighth place (2-3), Bonita Vista in 10th place (1-4), Chula Vista in 11th place (2-3) and Castle Park in 12th place (0-5).
In early season match-ups, Olympian shaded Chula Vista and San Ysidro by scores of 55-42 and 65-51, respectively.
San Ysidro finished 23-8 last season, including a 12-0 showing in South Bay League play. Cougar coach Terry Tucker feels his team should once again be considered a top contender for a league title.
Losses have come against Olympian, Del Norte (56-47) and RBV (62-58) — all competitive games.
Team leaders for the Cougars include junior Lynard Steward (27.4 points per game in five games), and senior Orlando Quinones (11.4 scoring average). Quinones is also averaging 11.2 rebounds per game while sophomore Karlton Perry is averaging 9.8 rebounds per game.
Steward, who also earned all-tournament honors at the Eagle Classic, poured in 30 points in the loss to RBV while Quinones tacked on 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“(We) look to continue as one of the top teams in the country behind two of the top players in the county (Quinones and Steward),” Tucker noted in a team preview.
Joaquin Kinnamon, another all-tournament pick, and Jordan Fagan led Olympian with 53 and 52 points, respectively, in the Eagle Classic while Tasean Smith and Keion Wallace each collected 40 points. Freshman A.J. Neel posted a 9.7 points-per-game average in three game appearances.
The annual Hilltop tournament tipped off last Friday with the host Lancers joined by the Eastlake Titans and Otay Ranch Mustangs among entered South County teams.
Hilltop bettered Guajome Park, 59-27, last Saturday as Noel Jeffers tallied 14 points and Michael Bembry added 10 points.
The Mustangs captured a 68-67 thriller from Francis Park on Tuesday to improve to 2-1 in tourney play. Sophomore Nikko Paranada led Otay Ranch with 25 points while senior A.J. Paranada dropped in 21 points. Nikko Paranada also collected eight assists and five steals in the win.
In three games, Nikko Paranada is averaging 25.7 points per game. He had 25 points in a 74-16 win over Guajome Park last Friday and added 27 points in a 65-55 loss to Carlsbad last Saturday.
Also taking place this week is the Mar Vista Division IV tournament. Participating teams from the Metro include Castle Park and the tourney host Mariners.
Mar Vista tipped off its season on Monday with an 80-23 victory against the Rock Academy. Senior Marco Leyva earned honors as the Mariners’ player of the game with eight steals and seven assists.
Thirteen players scored at least two points for Mar Vista. Patrick Gonzalez keyed the Mariners with 12 points while fellow senior Brandon Scales collected 10 points.
Tournament play continues throughout December. The Sweetwater Host Lions Club Classic tips off Monday, Dec. 16, while Bonita Vista, Chula Vista and Montgomery high schools will host holiday-themed tournaments Dec. 26-30.
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