While both Mater Dei Catholic and Eastlake high schools possess high-powered boys basketball teams this season, no matter what your allegiances may be, you still have to be cheering for the Sweetwater Red Devils.
The Devils improved their season record to an amazing 22-0 following Tuesday’s 101-31 Metro-Pacific League victory at Castle Park.
Sweetwater entered the week ranked third among all San Diego Section teams and first in Division III.
“I have never been so humbled in my life as this year,” SuHi coach Jesse Aguirre said after Tuesday’s contest. “The amazing thing is that these kids have never lost their focus, they’ve never stopped taking their foot off the pedal. This is a great group. The sky is the limit for them.”
Tuesday’s win raised the National City team’s league record to 3-0. The Devils conclude regular season play with games Wednesday at Hilltop and home against Castle Park next Friday.
Next up is the section playoff tournament that is scheduled to start Feb. 25. Sweetwater is ranked at the top among Division III teams. In terms of win-loss records, the Devils are followed by 10th-ranked Kearny (18-2), Calvin Christian (17-4), Del Norte (17-6), Imperial (13-7), Foothills Christian (14-8), West Hills (13-8) and Madison (14-10).
Despite his team’s runaway success, Aguirre is sticking to the game plan he adopted at the beginning of the season. That is, to take one game at a time.
“We have set goals for ourselves obviously, but the plan has been to keep our focus and to play hard each game,” the SuHi coach said.
With such a commanding record, the Devils have set a few milestones along the way in 2013-14.
Aguirre pointed out that no previous Sweetwater team had gone beyond a 12-0 start to the season. Also, last Saturday, senior guard Spencer Mattox passed SuHi legend Michael Pitts (1979 San Diego Section Player of the Year) as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“To be fair to Michael, we took away the stats from Spencer’s freshman year to judge the two players by their last three years, and Spencer still got him by 10 points,” Aguirre said.
Pitts, who had his Sweetwater No. 44 jersey officially retired by the team in 2011, poured in 1,722 points from 1976-79 before going on to play at the college level with the Cal Bears (1980-84); Mattox raised his sophomore to senior year total to 1,735 points following last Saturday’s 81-53 non-league victory a San Ysidro.
“If you count Spencer’s freshman year, he has scored more than 2,000 points,” Aguirre noted.
Pitts, a seven-footer, was a draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1984 NBA Draft. However, he ended up playing professionally in France and Spain for three years.
Mattox had 16 points in Tuesday’s win, though the Red Devils were actually led by teammate C.J. Cadua with 21 points in the scoring department. Overall, six SuHi players reached double digits. Raymond Dibella dropped in 13 points while Raven Middleton and Alvin Imperial both scored 11 points and Arturo Sampo tallied 10 points.
Tuesday’s victory marked the third time that Sweetwater had eclipsed the 100-point mark this season.
Jesse Villarreal led Castle Park (1-2 in league, 5-16 overall) in Tuesday’s contest with 11 points while teammate Mylik Steen contributed 10 points.
Sweetwater improved it season record to 23-0 following Thursday's 91-38 rivalry victory against Chula Vista. Five Devils scored in double digits: Cadua (17 points), Imperial (16 points), Dibella (16 points), Mattox (12 points) and Oscar Picazo (10 points).