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Titan hoop men 'rushing' toward league title? Phillip Brents | Fri, Dec 21 2012 01:47 PM

The Eastlake Titans boys basketball team tipped off last Saturday’s Sweetwater Host Lions Club Classic tournament with several key players from the school’s recent San Diego Section Division I football championship team on the playing court.

Aaron Baltazar, Blake Wilson and Ty Stevens were the notables along with Vince Panaligan and Wes Braddock. Baltazar scored three touchdowns in the Titans’ 21-14 victory against Mission Hills. Wilson tied for the team lead with 12 sacks while Stevens passed for 1,386 yards as the Titans finished 10-3.

Will a fall sports championship translate to a winter sports title? The Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders, along with the Otay Ranch Mustangs and Olympian Eagles, might have something to say about that during the current boys basketball season, though Eastlake certainly looked like a well-oiled machine in its 69-14 tournament victory against Southwest.

Baltazar, the 2011-12 Mesa League Player of the Year, led the Titan hoop men with 12 points while Stevens contributed eight and Ivan Sinclair added seven.

Defense proved to be the linchpin of Eastlake’s football championship run and Titan hoops coach Alex Estrada had to be proud of the defensive blanket his team threw over the Raiders.

Eastlake held Southwest to just two second half points, and both of those came in the final quarter.

The Titans broke out to a 12-0 run to start the game and two Baltazar treys figured prominently in an early 15-2 Eastlake lead.

“We always have a goal to win league and CIF, and I think we have the making of a pretty good team,” Estrada said. “We’re just fighting injuries right now.”

Tyler Katz was on crutches for last Saturday’s tourney tip-off but is hopeful of returning. Estrada considers the senior guard an impact returner along with Baltazar, Wilson and Sinclair.

“Our chemistry is very good — we’re very tall and athletic,” Estrada explained.

In other words, expect good things from the Titans in 2012-13.

In Eastlake’s 5-3 start, two losses have come against Hoover (73-53 and 58-50 in the Titan Tip-Off Classic) and one against Morse (60-51 on Monday).

Hoover is off to a 9-1 start while Morse improved to 12-2 following Wednesday’s 89-26 tourney win over Southwest.

Baltazar (15 points) and Sinclair (14 points) paced Eastlake in Wednesday’s 53-32 victory against Mt. Carmel. The Titans broke away from a three-point third quarter lead to out-score the Sundevils 25-4 in the final quarter.

Eastlake also appears to have tradition on their side. Eastlake has won 10 league titles in the last 12 seasons, Estrada said. The Titans defeated Ramona to win the Division II section title in 2001 and finished runner-up to La Costa Canyon for the 2006 Division I championship.

Horse power
Otay Ranch topped a pesky Chula Vista team, 65-54, in last Saturday’s slate of tourney openers and topped Steele Canyon, 59-45, on Monday to improve to 3-3 before dropping a hard-fought 74-65 decision to No. 3 Hoover on Wednesday.

Mustang head coach Howard Suda is in his ninth year with the team, which he describes as “kinda young” this season.

“We’ll have two freshmen with a lot of playing time and a couple of newcomers who are going to be leaders,” Suda said. “You can see the potential but it will take some time to work together.”

Otay Ranch toppled state power Lincoln, 60-47, in the opener of the Hilltop tournament on Nov. 30 with Oregon-bound stars Tyree and Tyrell Robinson still on the Hornets’ football team. But consecutive losses to Steele Canyon (67-49), Helix (57-44) and Westview (58-48) followed to end the tournament.

Lincoln, reunited with the Robinson twins following the Hornets’ runaway 42-14 victory against the Ramona Bulldogs in the Division III football final, stormed back to top Helix, 53-36, in the championship game.

“We lost to some tough teams,” Suda said. “We were up by three on Helix in the fourth quarter.”

Impact players this season include 6-3 senior Mitchell Duran, senior defensive specialist Chris Martin, the section’s leading receiver during the football season, junior A.J. Paranada and freshmen standouts Nikko Paranada and Oscar Limon.

“I think the Mesa League will be pretty competitive,” Suda said in reference to upcoming league play in January. “Mater Dei is very big, with good size and experience. I’m expecting them to be a factor. It’s always been Eastlake and us since we joined the Mesa League.”

Bonita Optimist hoops
The 43rd annual Baron-Optimist tournament is scheduled Dec. 26-29 at Bonita Vista High School. Eight girls teams and six boys teams will participate this year.

Girls teams include Bonita Vista, Chula Vista, Morse and Scripps Ranch in pool A and Alhambra (Ariz.), Britannia (Canada), Hilltop and Southwest in pool B. Boys teams include Bonita Vista, El Cajon Valley, Gompers, High Tech High, Mar Vista and Monte Vista.

Girls schedule
Dec. 26: Morse vs. Scripps Ranch, 10 a.m.; Hilltop vs. Southwest, 1 p.m.; Bonita Vista vs. Chula Vista, 4 p.m.; Alhambra vs. Britannia, 7 p.m.
Dec. 27: Scripps Ranch vs. Bonita Vista, 10 a.m.; Southwest vs. Alhambra, 1 p.m.; Britannia vs. Hilltop, 4 p.m.; Chula Vista vs. Morse, 7 p.m.
Dec. 28: Hilltop vs. Alhambra, 10 a.m.; Southwest vs. Britannia, 1 p.m.; Scripps Ranch vs. Chula Vista, 4 p.m.; Morse vs. Bonita Vista, 7 p.m.
Dec. 29: seventh-place game, 10 a.m.; ffith-place game, 1 p.m.; third-place game, 4 p.m.; championship game, 7 p.m.

Boys schedule
Dec. 26: Gompers vs. High Tech High, 11:30 a.m.; Mar Vista vs. Monte Vista, 2:30 p.m.; Bonita Vista vs. El Cajon Valley, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 27: Monte Vista vs. Gompers, 11:30 a.m.; El Cajon Valley vs. Mar Vista, 2:30 p.m.; High Tech High vs. Bonita Vista, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 28: El Cajon Valley vs. High Tech High, 11:30 a.m.; Gompers vs. Mar Vista, 2:30 p.m.; Bonita Vista vs. Monte Vista, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: El Cajon Valley vs. Gompers/Monte Vista, 11:30 a.m.; High Tech High vs. Mar Vista/Monte Vista, 2:30 p.m.; Bonita Vista vs. Gompers/Mar Vista, 5:30 p.m.

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