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Basketball Roundup: League play coming right up

Teams close out nonleague schedule, get ready for start of league this week.

January 08, 2014|By Mike Sciacca
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

A challenge took place Tuesday night at Fountain Valley High and University High in Irvine, one that pitted six Sunset League boys' basketball teams, against six teams from the Pacific Coast League.

After five hours and six games at the two host sites, the leagues split their meetings.

Among the four local schools, Edison, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Marina, in the Sunset League-Pacific Coast League Challenge, only Marina, was able to came away with a victory.

The Vikings downed Irvine, getting 14 points apiece from sophomore wing Buzz Stafford and junior guard Daniel Neff, who hit four, three-pointers. Stafford and Neff, both transfer students, were playing their first game for the Vikings.

Senior guard Derek Mallard had six assists as Marina improved to 6-10 overall.

"We've started out games a little slow defensively, if we are going to contend in the Sunset League, we need to start better by not giving up easy baskets in the first half," Marina Coach Nick Racklin said. "We didn't play all that well and were still able to put up 62 points, which is a great sign for us since we were averaging only about 54 points per game."

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Tuesday's win followed an 83-37 home nonleague win Friday over Liberty Christian. Mallard scored 15 points, senior forward Matt Dispenza had a game-high 17 points, and junior guard Greg Fronek Jr. and sophomore guard Ethan Young scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Both wins give Marina some momentum heading into the start of the Sunset League season, which opens at 7 p.m. Friday. The Vikings start their league slate on the road against a team that had a strong nonleague season and is perhaps one of the favorites for the league title, Edison.

"The Sunset League is very evenly balanced this year," Racklin said. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We are excited to go to work and study each team as best we can to put our guys in a situation to be in the ball game heading into the fourth quarter.

"Edison and Los Alamitos, I think, are the two best teams. We're just going to try and surprise some people. I think we are better than our record shows because of our tough preseason schedule. Of our 10 losses, only one of those teams has a losing record, and most of those teams are going to win their leagues."

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