May 23, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Top-seeded San Juan Hills looking to continue success in CIF boys basketball playoffs

San Juan Hills boys basketball team is headed to the CIF playoffs as the top seed. (Photo courtesy San Juan Hills Athletics).

It’s been quite a season already for the San Juan Hills High School boys basketball team, which captured its second consecutive Sea View League title this season with a 6-0 record and set a school record for most wins in a season, 23.

Now, Coach Jason Efstathiou is preparing his team for the start of the CIF playoffs. The Stallions (23-4) are the top seed in the CIF 2A division. The Stallions earned a bye for the first round and open with a second round game Tuesday.

“This season’s team has tremendous chemistry and friendship,”  Efstathiou said Wednesday. “Everyone likes each other, respects one another and is totally bought in. Everyone supports one another and though we are senior heavy with 11 seniors, we also have two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen; 18 total players who have a common goal and have developed a strong bond and friendships.

“We preach to ‘get better and win’ every single day: practices, team events, games of course, the classroom, life and anything that we do. Our program has the motto ‘unstoppable’ and this team has fully embraced it on and off the court.”

This is  Efstathiou’s seventh season as head coach. The squad turned the corner last season when it won the first league title in school history and has continued its success this season, winning its first tournament title at the Capo Valley Christian tournament in December. The boys basketball program began in 2007.

Now comes the next challenge for the Staillions, who have set numerous other team records and earned the highest rankings in school history.

“Though we received the number one seed and a bye in the first round of playoffs, it is still a very tough draw,” the coach said. “All of the teams are very good and we are going to need to play our best basketball and work our hardest during these playoffs. It is a great challenge that we are ready to take on.”

The top players include Mark Reichner, who is averaging 17 points, five rebounds and two assists a game overall and 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in league play.

“He is our offensive leader and can score from anywhere, a captain and a fantastic teammate and leader,”  Efstathiou said.

Another standout has been John McFadden, who is averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists a game overall and 11.9 points, nine rebounds and four assists in league.

“John does everything, plays every position, is a captain and has broken all rebounding records in school history,” Efstathiou said.

The Stallions are also led by Jacob Simon, who is averaging 11 points, four rebounds and two assists overall and 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in league.

“Jacob is explosive and can score from anywhere, and is only getting better,” Efstathiou said.

Another top player has been Thomas Hattan, who is averaging eight points, two rebounds and two assists a game.

“He is our sixth man and one of three captains and provides a big spark of offense coming off the bench and provides great leadership,” Efstathiou said.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com