The Week That Was...and the Week that Is
One week down, a few more to go.
The San Diego basketball season got off to a roaring start, complete with big-time matchups, significant upsets and dominant performances.
Let's recap opening week and look ahead to this week's action.
1. St. Augustine, San Ysidro dominate
The Saints took care of business in week one, turning a close first half against Montgomery into a blowout, and handling Westview in the Regional Rumble opener. San Ysidro dominated top-10 Cathedral Catholic before losing to the state's No. 1 team, Corona Centennial, 95-70 in front of a sellout crowd by the border. Both teams, however, look significantly stronger than the rest of the field in San Diego.
2. Montgomery looks like an Open Division team
The Aztecs dropped their first game against Saints, but turned around and uncorked a convincing 74-57 win over my Preseason No. 3, La Costa Canyon (more about them next). Even in the Saints game, you can see the connectivity and confidence of the Aztecs team that starts four sophomores and an underrated senior, 5-10 G Nico Reyes.
3. La Costa Canyon stumbles
Coming into the season, there was no Top-5 team with more questions than the Mavs who had a very uneven spring and summer. Many of the questions came home to roost during a disappointing start to the season that saw them get routed on opening night by Del Norte (74-44), rebound for a win against a shorthanded Mission Bay team, only to close the week with another blowout loss to Montgomery. Between chemistry and defensive issues, the Mavs have work to do to remain in the Open hunt.
4. La Jolla Country Day - and the Coastal League - rises
The Torreys, which opened as my No. 11 team, opened their season with two 20-point wins over Coronado and Del Norte - which, of course, just beat LCC by 30. Expect the Torreys to make an appearance in my Top 10 when it's revised in a week if they can continue this dominant start. Their play, combined with a surprisingly close game between Francis Parker and Top 10 Lincoln and Bishop's road win over University City, gives hope that the Coastal League might not be as far down as expected.
5. Flu bug bites Mission Bay
The No. 5 Bucs opened their season with a dominant win over Top 25 opponent Helix, but what was more noteworthy was how they did it - with 6 players. The recent wave of upper respiratory infections that have been sweeping through schools hit Mission Bay hard, as starters Atreju De La Cruz and Thomas Metcalf were both down, and junior Kumari West sitting per transfer rules. In fact, two of the players in the lineup on opening night had not practiced all week before returning. The bug definitely had an impact in the team's next two games, a 42-33 loss to LCC and a comeback win over an Oak Hills team that was missing three key players in the Battle Zone Showcase.
Player of the Week: JJ Taylor, 6-8 senior wing, San Ysidro
The Donda Academy transfer kicked off his time in San Diego with a bang: He scored 27 points in the Cougars opening night-win over Cathedral Catholic, then scored a game-high 29 points in the loss to Corona Centennial. The 6-8 wing scores it prolifically off the bounce and off the catch from three, and is relentless in transition, where he put down highlight finishes in both games.
Play of the Week: University steals - and seals - win over Morse
After a back-and-forth game that saw Morse fight all the way back to take a five-point lead in the final minute, the Centurions cut the deficit to one to set up the final 18 seconds, in which their pressure defense led to an Ash Aka steal and look-ahead pass to a wide open Landon Carlson, who sank the game winning layup just before time expired. 56-55, Centurions.
Freshman of the week: CJ Aldrich, 5-10 G, Rancho Buena Vista
This is going to become a regular feature in our weekly recaps, and this week was a tough call because there were some outstanding performances. Victory Christian freshman Jayden Gray scored 35 points in his debut against Madison. Madison's RJ Miller, Steele Canyon's Alex Williams, Oceanside's Wyatt Cann, San Ysidro's Ty Ingram all had great games.
But Aldrich, the 5-10 first-year player at Rancho Buena Vista, scored 43 points in an 88-83 double OT win over Murrieta Valley. The Longhorns guard's performance makes us my freshman of the week.
Now for the upcoming week:
Game of the week: La Jolla Country Day vs Mission Bay, 7:30 pm Friday
This game is shaping up to be a good one and one of the highlights of the Bucs Thanksgiving Classic, which features 12 of the county's top teams. The Torreys have gotten off to a hot start and both teams have to get through two games before the Black Friday showdown, but if both take care of business, this Top 10 matchup could be a very revealing early season matchup.
West Hills Tournament:
The Armstrong/Horsman Automotive Tournament kicked off Monday with three games and continues through Saturday, Dec. 3rd, when it concludes with a 7:30 pm tilt between Torrey Pines and Cathedral Catholic.
Bucs Thanksgiving Classic
The 2nd annual Thanksgiving tournament at Mission Bay High features 12 of the region's top teams, including Carlsbad, Rancho Bernardo, Hoover, San Diego, Scripps Ranch, Eastlake, Del Norte, La Jolla Country Day, Coronado, Santa Fe Christian and the host Buccaneers.
The Madison tournament continues at Madison, Lincoln and Mira Mesa, with the championship on tap for Saturday at 7:30 pm.