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A North County Classic Classic? FTH Game of the Week

The North County Classic has perennially been a solid week of hoops to break up the December doldrums, the weeks between the Thanksgiving and post-Christmas tournaments.

While this year's field wasn't as stellar as previous seasons, it yields an intriguing and crucial title game for both teams: San Marcos and Sage Creek.

The game, which takes place at 7:20 p.m. tonight, is the Game of the Week.

What's at stake?

For San Marcos, the game is an opportunity to notch a second victory against a quality opponent on the year. Thus far, the Knights (10-2) are 1-2 against teams ranked in the Maxpreps Top 20, losing to University City and Rancho Buena Vista with a win over Mater Dei Catholic.

For the Bobcats, a team that is rising fast. a win would get them close to making a debut in the Top 10 rankings. At 8-2, their lone losses came to Mission Bay (a game that was tied entering the 4th quarter) and Vista.

Who are the standouts?

The Knights have been led by their stellar back court of sophomore Jalen Williams and freshman Richie Ramirez, both of whom average around 17 points per game with impressive shooting splits. Ramirez is shooting 56 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3, while Williams is shooting it at nearly 50 percent himself.

San Marcos' interior play has also been solid, with senior Mazen El Bissat averaging nearly a double double per game (8.7 points, 9.2 rebounds per game), freshman Jackson McCall chipping in 4 points and 6 rebounds and sophomore Michael Brown averaging 4.4 points and 5 boards per contest.

That froncourt will get its toughest challenge yet: corralling 6-5 junior forward Elijah Stephens, a physical lefty who uses brute force and improved athleticism to score in a variety of ways. Averaging 26.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest on the year, he's picking up where he left off during his underrated sophomore campaign.

Who wins?

This should be one that goes down to the wire, with Sage Creek's underrated collection of back court players -- senior Zac Peterson, juniors Elias Samady and Kayden Naccarato and sophomore Vaughn Young - contributing timely baskets to keep the Bobcats close throughout (6-4 senior Ryan Gerhardt has been very good as well).

But the combination of homecourt advantage and superior guard play from Ramirez, Williams and the underrated shooting trio of Derek Tuason, Colton Kelley and Elias Flaim should be enough for San Marcos to get the job done.

Prediction: San Marcos 67, Sage Creek 64

Other games to watch:

Saturday, Dec. 16

Valley Christian (AZ) @ Otay Ranch, 3 p.m.

Mater Dei Catholic vs Santa Margarita, 5 pm. at Lincoln HS

Monday, Dec. 18

Sweetwater Lions Club Tournament

The long-running South Bay pre-holiday tournament kicks off with 7 games on two courts:

Main Court Second Gym

3:30 p.m. Southwest vs. San Ysidro None

5 p.m. Sweetwater vs. Valhalla UCSD Preuss vs. Liberty

6:30 p.m. Point Loma vs. Hoover Monte Vista vs. San Dieguito

8 p.m. Mount Miguel vs. Morse Mater Dei vs. La Jolla


Fallbrook (6-5) @ Canyon Hills (7-3) 6:30 p.m.

El Capitan (9-1) @ Mira Mesa (7-4), 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 19


Westview (5-5) @ University City (9-4), 7 p.m.

Vista (6-5) @ San Diego (3-6), 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Sweetwater Lions Club Tournament Montgomery (8-0) vs South Granville NC (5-0)


Francis Parker (4-3) @ La Costa Canyon (4-3), 6 p.m.

Patrick Henry (6-6) @ Granite Hills (5-2), 6 p.m.

Saint Joseph Academy (5-3) @ Sage Creek (8-2), 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 21

University City (9-4) @ Vista (6-5), 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 22

Norco (7-6) @ Granite Hills (5-2), 5 p.m.

La Jolla Country Day (7-3) @ Cathedral Catholic, 5 p.m.

Christian (5-1) @ Maranatha Christian (6-5), 6 p.m.


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