Hardly anyone travels from Orange County to Minnesota this time of year unless it’s for business.
Santa Margarita’s hockey teams are in Minnesota this weekend to get to the business of improving.
The Eagles play in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League. The league has five divisions that include varsity and junior varsity levels. The ADHSHL’s top division, Division 1, includes several Orange County high school teams and out-of-county teams from San Diego County and as far north as Bellarmine Prep of San Jose.
Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita are tied for first place with 36 points each (Santa Margarita has played 16 league games to Orange Lutherans’s 19) with Fairmont Prep in third at 33 points. JSerra also has a Division 1 team.
Santa Margarita, Orange Lutheran and Fairmont Prep also have teams in Division 2’s varsity group that includes Edison, Los Alamitos, Mater Dei and Servite.
Santa Margarita first-year coach Dave Walker, who coached hockey at Edison for several seasons, said the Minnesota tournament could be a productive one.
“It’s an opportunity for the guys to travel together and bond,” Walker said, “and they play some really good high school hockey in Minnesota.”
Santa Margarita has won three ADHSHL Division 1 championships and three national high school hockey championships. JSerra and Orange Lutheran also have won the league’s Division 1 championship and have enjoyed success at the state and national levels.
The Eagles’ leading scorer is Ameen Ghosheh with 29 points on nine goals and 20 assists. Rex Baren has a team-high 11 goals. Brock Devlin has 20 points and, Walker said, Brock Devli leads the corps of defensemen.
Walker said Santa Margarita is a quick-transition, attacking team.
“We’re definitely more of a run-and-gun team,” he said. “I wish we were a little less run-and-gun and more focused on the defensive side, but as a coach and looking at our players’ skill set, that’s OK.”
The ADHSHL regular season continues through early February with games at Great Park Ice & Five Points Arena in Irvine and the Anaheim ICE Rink where the Anaheim Ducks practice. League playoffs are followed by state playoffs including representatives of the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks high school leagues.
And if it works out the way Walker hopes, Santa Margarita will come back from frigid Minnesota fired up for the games to come.
The CIF Southern Section Council, the section’s rules-making and rules-amending body, meets Jan. 31. On the agenda is a first-read of a statewide proposal that would address the transfer of student-athletes from one school to another to pursue a Name-Image-Likeness financial opportunity. A student-athlete would be ruled ineligible for one year if his/her transfer is influenced by, as the wording of the proposal states, “ … accepting material or financial inducement to attend a CIF member school … regardless of the source” and added to an existing rule on pre-enrollment contact would be “any organization or individual that assists or consults with a family/student resulting in enrollment at a specific school for financial or athletic purposes.” …
Also coming up for vote at a later CIF-SS Council meeting this school year is a proposal that would establish CIF State boys and girls tennis championships beginning with the 2023-24 school year. …
Annually among the better tournaments in California, the Five Counties wrestling tournament is Friday and Saturday at Fountain Valley High. Entered are several teams in TheCaliforniaWrestler.com’s state rankings – No. 5 Gilroy, No. 6 St. John Bosco and No. 8 Clovis North, No. 13 Fountain Valley, No. 14 Northview, No. 15 Rancho Bernardo and No. 25 Corona del Mar. Among the individuals to watch in the 64-wrestler weight brackets are El Dorado’s Isaiah Quintero, ranked No. 1 in California at 120 pounds, and Fountain Valley’s TJ McDonnel, No. 1 in the state at 182.
Marina will retire the basketball numbers of Rich Branning (No. 10) and Cherokee Parks (No. 44) at halftime of its boys basketball home game against Huntington Beach on Jan. 20. Branning, class of 1976, was a great shooter who played for four years at Notre Dame. Parks, class of ‘91, was an offensive and defensive star at center who played at Duke before lasting nine seasons in the NBA. …
The Mater Dei boys basketball team is 1-2 in the Trinity League, making this the first time it has lost two league games in the same season since the league was created in the 2006-07 school year. From watching the Monarchs for one-and-a-half games this season, they don’t have the consistent go-to shooter they usually have. They have a couple of guys who can make the 3, like junior Scotty Belnap and freshman Luke Barnett, but they lack that one player they could design a play for when they need a 3-pointer. Maybe someone will become that guy. …
Three O.C. boys basketball players that especially impressed this week: Crean Lutheran freshman Kaiden Bailey and seniors Carson Brown of Tesoro and Efe Gucoglu of Capistrano Valley. All three are wonderful scorers. Bailey and Gucoglu are super-quick at squaring up and getting the shot off, and while Brown’s release is a fraction of a second more deliberate than that of the other two but he is the best defender of the trio. …
Also figured out the past three weeks is that there is not a huge difference in the teams ranked 1-13 in Orange County boys basketball. Parity is fun. …
Huntington Beach girls soccer realizing its potential but more challenges await
Laguna Beach girls water polo flashes passing skills to sink Newport Harbor
Orange County boys soccer Top 10, Jan. 11
Sunny Hills boys soccer team having another fine season
Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions for girls water polo returns this week
The Prep Baseball Report Invitational tournament, Feb. 11-21 at Great Park in Irvine, has an excellent collection of 16 teams including Orange County’s Cypress, El Dorado, Foothill, Huntington Beach, Orange Lutheran and Servite. …
The Boras Classic South baseball tournament, April 11-14 at JSerra and Mater Dei, includes Cypress, Huntington Beach, Orange Lutheran and the host schools. Also worth noting in the baseball season that starts Feb. 11 is a two-game Cypress-JSerra series, March 1 at Cypress and March 3 at JSerra. …
The CIF-SS Executive Committee, an advisory board to the CIF-SS organization, has a retreat this weekend at the Westin Hotel near South Coast Plaza. Among the topics will be preliminary discussion of procedures and timeline to select the next CIF-SS commissioner to replace the retiring Rob Wigod.