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Mater Dei Catholic in the lead but young Otay Ranch hoopsters seeking respect Phillip Brents | Wed, Jan 29 2014 01:25 PM

While the Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders have to be considered the favorite entering the 2014 Metro-Mesa League boys basketball slate with four starters returning from last year’s San Diego Section Division IV runner-up squad, the Metro-Mesa League still rates as one of the more competitive circuits in San Diego County.

The Crusaders entered the week ranked second overall among section teams, with the Eastlake Titans holding down the No. 8 spot to provide the Mesa League with an air of respect.

Olympian, Otay Ranch and Bonita Vista round out the five-team circuit.

Mater Dei Catholic is off to a 2-0 start in league play braced by victories against Eastlake (51-44 on Jan. 22) and Bonita Vista (68-40 last Friday). Olympian defeated Bonita Vista, 55-40, in its league opener on Jan. 22 before falling, 55-42, last Friday at Otay Ranch.

Otay Ranch coach Howard Suda’s team improved to 11-8 with the win over the Eagles.

“They (Mater Dei Catholic) are no doubt the team to beat,” said Suda, whose team takes on the Crusaders Wednesday, Jan. 29, in a spotlight match-up at MDCHS.

Suda describes his squad as a “very young team” that is starting three sophomores: Nikko Paranada, Oscar Limon and newcomer Gabriel Huidor.

Paranada earned first-team all-league honors last season as a freshman.

“How fast these players mature and endure the growing pains in the pre season will determine if the Mustangs will compete for the mesa title this season,” the ORHS coach said.

The Mustangs appear to be maturing fast.

Paranada opened the season with a torrid 23.4-point per game scoring average while Limon ranked second in team scoring with a 12.9 scoring average.

Eastlake defeated Otay Ranch, 75-53, in the championship game of the season opening Hilltop tournament. Eastlake went 4-1 in the tourney while Otay Ranch was 3-2 with key wins over Helix and Francis Parker in bracket play. 

The Mustangs then opened the Coronado tournament with victories against Clairemont and Coronado before competing in the tough Mt. Carmel tournament over the holiday break.
 
Otay Ranch continued to fine-tune its game with non-league wins over Serra, Granite Hills, San Diego and Mt. Miguel before entering league play.
 
In the spotlight
Mater Dei Catholic (18-2) defeated Rancho Christian, 58-55, in the San Diego/Los Angeles Showcase Jan. 11 at Lincoln High school and topped Mission Bay, 49-35, in the Bennie Edens Classic Jan. 18 at Point Loma High School.



Metro-Mesa League Standings
Mater Dei Catholic 2-0, 18-2
Otay Ranch Mustangs 1-0, 11-8
Olympian Eagles 1-1, 13-7
Eastlake Titans 0-1, 16-4
Bonita Vista 0-2, 6-15

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