The Star-News


Sweetwater Red Devils proving too hot to handle in 44th Barons-Optimist tournament

Sun, Dec 29 2013 01:51 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents

Sweetwater head coach Jesse Aguirre is proud of his team. With a 10-0 start it would be difficult not to be.

But Aguirre is really high on this season’s squad.

“I don’t think we’ve had a faster team since we went to state in 1990,” he said after the Red Devils thoroughly dismantled the Monte Vista Monarchs, 92-29, in a 44th Barons-Optimist tournament game on Friday.

What this 2013-14 SuHi squad may lack in overall height, it makes up for in so many other areas. This team can do it all — and did it all against the defending tournament champion Monarchs, who watched an early 7-5 lead quickly vanish against the speedy Devils.

“With our press, it brings taller teams down chasing us,” Aguirre said. “Monte Vista had a lot more height than we did.”

A 64-45 win over Metro Conference rival Olympian on Saturday pushed Sweetwater to a 10-0 start and a berth in Monday’s championship game against Canyon Crest Acadcemy. Many expected the Devils to meet East County power El Cajon Valley but the Braves — did in by 18 three-point bombs — fell 75-69 to Canyon Crest Academy in an earlier game on Friday.

Olympian improved to 2-0 in tourney play after stopping Health Sciences, 79-38, on Friday. The Eagles claimed a big win by edging Monte Vista, 46-45, in Thursday’s round of opening games.

Canyon Crest topped Bonita Vista, 89-66, on Thursday to also improve to 2-0 and closed out pool play on Saturday with a 56-14 victory against Gompers Prep.

Monte Vista dropped to 0-2 in tourney play after the loss to the Devils.

“I didn’t expect this,” Aguirre said of Friday’s lopsided win over the Monarchs. “I saw Monte Vista as an athletic team. But we kept plugging away, we were relentless.”

“Relentless” might be the right word to adequately describe this season’s Sweetwater team. The Devil defense did most of the actual damage, forcing a seemingly endless string of turnovers that were quickly turned into points.

If Aguirre had one negative thing to say about his team’s performance, it was about its free-throw shooting: 16-for-31.

Do the math. The National City team could easily have eclipsed the 100-point mark, even with a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Sweetwater led 59-20 at halftime and 79-27 entering the final quarter.

Spencer Mattox led the Devils with 31 points, including five treys, while C.J. Cadua chipped in with 13 points, Raymond Dibella with 12 points and Alvin Imperial with 11 points.

As a team, the Devils sank 10 three-point shots.

The fabled 1990 SuHi team finished 29-2 with a final No. 8 ranking in the state among Division I teams.

Aguirre said the focus right now is for his squad to take each game as it comes. Given the team’s incredible team chemistry, that part has been easy.

“All these guys are friends, they all get along,” the SuHi coach said. “No one complains. If something goes wrong on a play, they get back to work to get it right on the next play.”

Still, there is an unstated focus farther down the team’s schedule.

“These guys went 28-1 over the offseason and didn’t get much respect,” Aguirre said. “They’re playing with a chip on their shoulder to some extent, and that’s not a bad thing sometimes.”

Relentless --- that with do for now.

Tip-ins
Both Chula Vista and Bonita Vista improved to 2-0 in pool play, with the teams scheduled to meet in Saturday’s pool finale. The winner will advance to Monday’s championship game while the loser will slide in the third place game.

Chula Vista topped Scripps Ranch, 36-21, in action on Friday while Bonita Vista sped past Lincoln 53-22.

Keion Wallace had 14 points in Olympian’s nail-biter victory against Monte Vista.

Sweetwater opened tourney play on Thursday with an 81-23 win over Health Sciences as Imperial dropped in a team high 14 points, followed by Oscar Picazo with 11 points and Mattox and Cadua each with 10 points.

Monday's boys championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., following the girls championship game at 6 p.m.


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