HUNTINGTON BEACH — Judging by the way the first week in the 2013 Sunset League boys' basketball race has gone, it's apparent that no game is a gimmie for any team.
Both Edison and Marina have learned that lesson well in league play.
For Edison, the visiting Chargers played their third-straight league game that went to the wire. And, just as the previous two before, the outcome tipped in their favor, this time, by a 48-44 score.
For Marina, it was another valiant effort that came up just short.
"I thought they out-executed us all game," Edison Coach Rich Boyce said of the Vikings, moments after his team improved to 3-0 in league and 13-7 overall.
The win also kept the Chargers atop the Sunset League standings with Fountain Valley.
"We came out sluggish and [Marina] played well," Boyce continued. "We had that big win the other night against Los Al, and we're a young team, but we need to play through big wins like that and follow up with another good performance. We didn't do that tonight, and credit Marina for that. It's a matter of time before they break through in league.
"We're just glad to get out of here with a win."
Edison two nights ago scored a key league victory when it knocked off defending Sunset champion Los Alamitos, 67-62. Friday's game was the fifth in eight days for the Chargers.
Edison opened league play Jan. 4 and needed a last-second shot to get past Newport Harbor, 67-65.
Marina, meanwhile, gave another league opponent a tough battle. On Wednesday, the Vikings fought Huntington Beach to the end but suffered an eventual, 54-43 loss. The two setbacks left them 0-3 in league and 6-13 overall.
"I think our guys are tired of moral victories and they deserve a win," Marina Coach Nick Racklin said. "We had our chances tonight but [Edison] hit a couple of big threes there at the end. Credit them for getting out and hitting those threes, and it was bad for us to not get out there and defend those shots."
Edison scored its first 18 points of the game on three-pointers. Sophomore guard Derek Molina hit three of those six three-pointers in the opening half which the Chargers led the entire way. They took a 23-14 lead at the break and built the lead to 12 early in the second half on a basket by sophomore guard Brae Ivey and free throw by another sophomore guard, Jake Haar.
It was then that Marina steadily began to chip away at the deficit. The comeback began with a three-pointer by senior forward Casey Hayes just 1:32 into the second half, and ended when Hayes hit a jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer. The last-second shot drew the Vikings to within 35-32 heading into the final eight minutes.
Edison was still clinging to a three-point lead with 3:27 left in the game when Hayes, who was fouled on a three-point shot attempt, went to the free-throw line. He made only one of three attempts and the Vikings still trailed, 41-39. They would get not closer as moments later, Molina hit his first three-pointer of the second half, and it put the Chargers up, 44-39, with 2:30 to go.
Marina turned the ball over on its next possession, and the Vikings payed for the miscue. Senior guard Brodie Barton padded the Edison lead to eight points when he hit a three-pointer with 1:53 remaining to increase the lead to 47-39.
Molina led Edison with 14 points and Ivey finished with 12 points.
Hayes, the lone returning player from last year for Marina, led all scorers with 18 points. Sophomore guard Gabe Cooper scored 12 points.
The Sunset League leader will be established on Wednesday when Edison plays host to Fountain Valley. That same day, Marina begins a five-game homestand with Newport Harbor. Both games start at 7 p.m.