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Will lightning strike twice for Sweetwater Red Devil hoop men? Phillip Brents | Fri, Dec 27 2013 01:21 PM

The Sweetwater High School football team set the pace during the fall season by winning the San Diego Section Division IV championship. Now, can the Red Devils boys basketball team follow through and capture the Division III title during the winter sport season?

The answer could be exciting indeed after the National City hoop men defeated perennial section powers Hoover and El Camino to claim the championship of last week’s Sweetwater Host Lions tournament.

“I think it’s carrying over,” SuHi coach Jesse Aguirre said. “These kids had an amazing off-season. They finished 28-1 in off-season tournaments, beating some of the top teams in San Diego, but didn’t get much love.

“I told them to not worry about preseason polls and just worry about their next game and they’re doing just that.”

The Devils have methodically built a 7-0 record to start the 2013-14 hoops campaign, including a perfect 5-0 showing at the Host Lions tourney.

Sweetwater defeated third-ranked Hoover, 81-58, on Dec. 17, and completed its unexpected run to the tournament title by scoring a dramatic 77-71 victory against seventh-ranked El Camino in last Saturday’s championship tilt.

The Devils opened the 10-team tournament with a 78-52 win over Mt. Carmel on Dec. 16 and also recorded tourney wins against Abbortsford Senior from Canada (70-38) on Dec. 19 and Mar Vista (66-28) last Friday.

Senior Spencer Mattox scored a season high 37 points in the victory against El Camino and dropped in 29 points in the win over Hoover.

In six game appearances, he’s averaging 24.3 points per game to lead the NC squad.

Mattox, who earned tournament MVP honors, isn’t the only SuHi player opposing defenses need to fret about. Teammates C.J.  Cadua (13.2 points per game) and Alvin Imperial (12.0 ppg) both have emerged in the early part of the season with double-digit scoring averages.

Cadua, a junior, dropped in 17 points against El Camino and had 15 points against Mt. Carmel.
Imperial, a senior, poured in a game-high 22 points in the win over the visiting Canadians and contributed 15 points in the victory against Hoover.

Clearly, it’s been a team effort. Other key contributors so far include juniors Oscar Pizcano and Raven Middleton and senior Raymond Dibella.

Middleton will be looking to secure a rare football-basketball CIF double if the Devils polish off the season with a division hoops title. Middleton threw the game-winning touchdown pass in Sweetwater’s 7-0 championship game victory against Monte Vista on Dec. 7 to cap the football season. He had 12 points against Mar Vista.

Pizcano poured in 17 points against Mt. Carmel while Dibella collected 14 points against Hoover and 10 points against Abbortsford.

The tourney hosts bounded out to a 20-5 lead on the Canadian team.

Sweetwater built a 39-24 halftime edge over Hoover, which reportedly is missing key players due to academic ineligibility to start the season, and led El Camino at the half 42-35. 

Mattox and Cadua combined for 54 points in the tourney title game and the Devils sealed the win by forcing turnovers and sinking free-throws in the late going.

Aguirre said it’s difficult right now for his team to look that far down the road.

“To be honest, I’m most happy that the kids are having fun,” Aguirre said. “We just want to get through these holiday tournaments (the Devils tipped off the 44th annual Bonita Optimist tournament Thursday) because you’re playing every day. We just want to get past these right now.”

And continue to take the season one opponent at a time.

The Host Lions tournament was divided into two five-team pools. Pool A included El Camino, Steele Canyon, Point Loma and Chula Vista while Pool B included Sweetwater, Hoover, Mar Vista, Abbortsford and Mt. Carmel.

Chula Vista finished pool play 1-3 with a victory against Southwest (65-39) and losses to Point Loma (71-45), Steele Canyon (79-35) and El Camino (86-35).

Mar Vista finished pool play 0-4 will losses to Hoover (74-42), Abbortsford (53-41), Mt. Carmel (69-53) and Sweetwater.

Southwest finished pool play 0-4 with losses to Point Loma (64-41), El Camino (95-32), Steele Canyon (81-29) and Chula Vista.

In other placement games last Saturday:

•Steele Canyon (7-2 overall) bested Hoover, 78-55, to finish in third place.

•Mt. Carmel (5-5) topped Point Loma, 54-33, in the fifth-place game.

•Chula Vista (2-8) dropped a 63-44 decision to Abbortsford in the seventh-place match-up while Mar Vista edged Southwest, 47-33, in the battle for ninth place.

Holiday hoops

Tournament finals at Bonita Vista, Chula Vista and Montgomery are scheduled to wrap up on Monday.

This year’s Bonita Optimist tournament features a 16-team field — eight girls teams and eight boys teams.

Joining Sweetwater in the boys field are Canyon Crest Academy, El Cajon Valley, Gompers, Monte Vista, Olympian, Bonita Vista and Science and Health. Olympian, which will also compete in the Division III playoff bracket, is off to a 6-2 start while ECV (Division IV) is off to a torrid 8-2 clip.

The girls field includes Chula Vista, Bonita Vista, Lincoln, Scripps Ranch, Southwest, Alhambra (Ariz.), Hilltop and Santana. Chula Vista is off to a 5-3 start while the tourney-host Barons won have four of their opening seven contests.

Hilltop, Mar Vista, Montgomery, Otay Ranch, Eastlake and Castle Park are among area teams competing at the coed Aztec Holiday Invitational.

Mater Dei Catholic entered the season ranked sixth among section teams; the Crusaders, who have been placed in Division II for postseason competition, are off to a 7-2 start against strong competition to buttress that ranking. MDC tipped off the season 7-0 before suffering its first losses of the season in an Arizona tournament last week.



Friday, Dec. 27
Girls games

Chula Vista vs. Scripps Ranch, 10:30 a.m.
Alhambra (Ariz.) vs. Southwest, 1:30 p.m.
Bonita Vista vs. Lincoln, 4:30 p.m.
Hilltop vs. Santana, 7:30 p.m.

Boys games

Science and Health vs. Olympian, 9 a.m.
El Cajon Valley vs. Canyon Crest Academy, noon
Sweetwater vs. Monte Vista, 3 p.m.
Bonita Vista vs. Gompers, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 28
Girls games

Southwest vs. Santana, 9 a.m.
Lincoln vs. Scripps Ranch, noon
Alhambra (Ariz.) vs. Hilltop, 3 p.m.
Chula Vista vs. Bonita Vista, 6 p.m.

Boys games

Monte Vista vs. Science and Health, 10:30 a.m.
Gompers vs. Canyon Crest Academy, 1:30 p.m.
Olympian vs. Sweetwater, 4:30 p.m.
El Cajon Valley vs. Bonita Vista, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 30
Girls finals

Seventh place: Pool A (4) vs. Pool B (4), 9 a.m.
Fifth place: Pool A (3) vs. Pool B (3), noon
Third place: Pool A (2) vs. Pool B (2), 3 p.m.
Championship: Pool A (1) vs. Pool B (1), 6 p.m.

Boys finals
Seventh place: Pool C (4) vs. Pool D (4), 10:30 a.m.
Fifth place: Pool C (3) vs. Pool D (3), 1:30 p.m.
Third place: Pool C (2) vs. Pool D (2), 4:30 p.m.
Championship: Pool C (1) vs. Pool D (1), 7:30 p.m.

Spartan Classic
Chula Vista High School
Boys tournament

Pool games continue through Saturday. Championship finals on Monday, teams TBA

Aztec Holiday Invitational
Montgomery High School
Boys/Girls tournament

Pool games continue through Saturday. Championship finals on Monday, teams TBA

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