Getting back to the top of the Pacific Coast League won't be easy for the Sea Kings. The league is stacked. Three teams — Northwood (10-5), CdM (10-7) and Irvine (10-8) — are above .500 in nonleague play.
The league opener for CdM is at Irvine on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Sea Kings have faced a tough schedule so far, playing Foothill, ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA preseason poll, Tustin, No. 2 in Division 3-AAA, Ocean View, No. 4 in Division 3-A, and Las Vegas, the No. 4 team in the state of Nevada by MaxPreps.com, during the Las Vegas Prep Championship.
"Our schedule is going to help us come league time," said Max Stone, CdM's leading scorer, who is averaging around 16 points per game. "The teams in our league haven't seen the teams we have played."
Estancia (4-11) and Costa Mesa (4-11) look as though they will battle for not only for the Battle for the Bell, but also for second place in the Orange Coast League for the second straight season.
Since the league's inception six years ago, Laguna Beach has won it every time and it will again. The race for second starts Wednesday for the Eagles and Mustangs. They open league play at Estancia at 7 p.m.
Sage Hill (6-7) begins Academy League play at Crean Lutheran (5-6) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Newport Harbor (8-7) is the area's lone team starting league this week. The Sailors play host to Edison (8-7) in a Sunset League opener on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Sailors haven't done so well in league, posting a 6-34 record in the past four seasons. Their best league finish during the stretch is a fourth-place tie three seasons ago.
That season was also the last time Newport Harbor won its league opener. Don't be surprised if the Sailors, with their height advantage with 7-footer Kevin Rakestraw, get past a young Edison team.