It was only the opening night of the Sunset League boys' basketball title chase but Edison's Rich Boyce and Marina's Nick Racklin knew heading into Friday's that getting off to a good start was imperative if their respective teams had hopes of winning a championship.
"This league is such a grind," Boyce said. "You need to be ready every night to play because there are so many good teams and great coaches in this league. It's important to defend your home court, and that was something we waned to do tonight."
Edison did defend the hardwood at its own Dave Mohs Gymnasium. The Chargers grabbed the lead for good early in the second quarter, methodically pulled away and, combined with a cold-shooting night by Marina, ran out to a 64-39 victory.
Edison trailed throughout the first quarter but came back to take an 11-point halftime lead (29-18).
The Chargers, the fourth-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1A, scored 42 points during the second and third quarters in winning for the 14th time in 17 games.
"I didn't think we played out best game, but we got the win," Boyce said. "But Marina did an outstanding job tonight. They came out and played great defense and took the early lead. Nick does a great job getting his guys ready, and they were ready tonight. They came out with great intensity, and we didn't match it."
Although Marina led, 10-8, after one quarter, the Vikings ultimately were hampered by two things: foul trouble and frigid shooting.
Derek Mallard, a senior guard and team captain who had hit a three-pointer two minutes into the game to give Marina an early 6-2 lead, picked up his third personal foul with 1:46 left in the first quarter. It was the eighth team foul committed by the Vikings (6-11), who by the end of the quarter had 10 team fouls.
Mallard sat out the second quarter but returned to the lineup at the outset of the second half.
Marina's shooting woes would read nine of 60 from the field for the game. The Vikings were three of 26 from two-point range in the opening half, and two of 26 from during the final two quarters.
Racklin said it was the poorest shooting night the Vikings had suffered through this season.
"We just couldn't hit anything," he said. "We only gave up one three the whole game. If you were to tell me that we only gave up one three, I would have said we won the game, or came really close to winning. You can't score only nine baskets and expect to win.
"Not having Derek in the game really hurt us. He's a big leader on this team."
A driving layup by junior guard Brae Ivey 1:25 into the second quarter gave Edison the lead for good at 12-11. Two minutes later, Marina junior guard Daniel Neff completed a three-point play to pull the Vikings to within 19-17. But that would be the last basket from the field in the final 4:30 of the half for the Vikings, who only would get a free-throw from junior guard Gabe Copper the rest of the half.
Ivey ignited Edison's 10-1 run to close out the half by scoring on a reverse layup. After Copper's free-throw, Chargers senior forward had a three-point play, freshman guard Randall Walker scored on a drive to the basket and junior guard AJ Garrity hit three free-throws during the final 1:30 of the half.
Marina was still down, 31-20, after two free-throws by Mallard just 28 seconds into the second half, but that's when Edison junior guard Derek Molina went on a personal scoring spurt. Scoreless in the opening half, Molina first scored on a follow shot before hitting a twisting layup and drilling a three-point shot from the corner.
The 7-0 run increased Edison's advantage to 18 with 6:01 left in the third quarter. The Chargers went on an 8-0 run two minutes later, and opened up a 46-26 lead with 2:30 to go in the quarter.
"He had a great second half," Boyce said of Molina, who went on to finish with 11 points, one of three Chargers in double figures. "We had asked him to rebound and defend tonight, and he did really well in both aspects."
Ivey led all scorers with 14 points. Junior guard Jake Haar scored 10 points, Walker had nine points, senior forward Austin Gannon seven points and sophomore forward Garrett White six points.
Neff paced Marina with 13 points and Mallard scored eight.
Both Edison and Marina returned to Sunset League action at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Chargers hosted Newport Harbor, and the Vikings traveled to face Los Alamitos. The results of the games were not available by press time.
As Boyce said, the grind continues.
"It feels good to get this first one, but there's still a lot of basketball to play," he said.
In other Sunset League games Friday, Fountain Valley (7-11) was upended, 88-45, by visiting Los Alamitos, and Huntington Beach (3-14) held an eight-point halftime lead on host Newport Harbor before falling, 49-46.
In a Golden West League opener Friday, defending-champion Ocean View went on the road to face Loara and outscored the Saxons, 17-4, in the fourth quarter to pull out a 47-40 victory. Senior guard Alex Medjanian hit five three-point shots and led all scorers with 24 points, as the Seahawks improved to 5-10.
In an Academy League opener Friday, defending-champion Brethren Christian rolled to a 63-39 victory at Cerritos Whitney. Senior guard Caleb Keller had a game-high 18 points, sophomore forward Cameron Griffin 13 points and junior guard Nate Dang added 11 points for the Warriors (12-2), ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 5AA.