Buena Park ramping up their expectations

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The Buena Park High boys basketball team is looking to improve on last year’s season that saw the Coyotes win 21 games and reach the CIF-SS playoff quarterfinals. To that end the Coyotes are stepping up their level of competition and their expectations of themselves. The Coyotes got off to a good start over the weekend, going 3-1 in their own tournament. They came up short against eventual champion Downey in the second round, but the Coyotes rebounded to win their final two games to take fifth place in the event.

The Buena Park High boys basketball team is looking to improve on last year’s season that saw the Coyotes win 21 games and reach the CIF-SS playoff quarterfinals. To that end the Coyotes are stepping up their level of competition and their expectations of themselves. The Coyotes got off to a good start over the weekend, going 3-1 in their own tournament. They came up short against eventual champion Downey in the second round, but the Coyotes rebounded to win their final two games to take fifth place in the event. Along the way, they defeated league foe Troy and Tesoro, a Division 2AA semifinalist from last year. “Those were two big hurdles for us to get over,” Head Coach Aaron Riekenberg said. The Coyotes (4-1) are still a young team as they will start four juniors and a freshman this year. But the juniors are all returning starters. Freshman Cameron Dashiell takes over the point guard duties, playing alongside his brother Cedric Dashiell, who was the team’s MVP last year. Anchoring the middle will be six-foot-six center Ryan Nelson. Nelson was a major factor in the wins over Troy and Tesoro. He had 18 rebounds against Tesoro and 17 against Troy. “He really controlled the middle,” Riekenberg said of Nelson. On offense Rocky Watkins came up huge with 29 points against Tesoro. Joe Galvan had 15 points and Cam Dashiell added 12. Nelson had 10 points to go with his team-high rebounds. The Coyotes led by five at halftime, but outscored Tesoro 21-8 in the third quarter to take control of the game. Against Troy, the Coyotes had 17 points each from Nelson and Watkins, while Cam Dashiell added 14. Cedric Dashiell, who is working his way back from injuries, had 8 points and 11 rebounds. Riekenberg said the team’s defense was key in finishing the tournament strong. He said that communication on defense has improved greatly. On offense, the Coyotes will look to run an up-tempo offense, led by the quickness of Cam Dashiell. The Coyotes finished third in the Freeway League last year, behind champion Sonora and Troy. Sonora would go on to with the CIF-SS Division 3AA Championship. Troy played in Division 1A, falling to eventual champion Foothill, 60-53 in the second round. The Coyotes have sought out higher-level competition this season to try and get themselves better prepared to make a run in league and CIF. They are playing in the North OC Tournament, where they are schedule to face CIF Division II State Champion La Mirada on Dec. 16 at La Mirada. In January they will play at Los Alamitos. The Coyotes open the North OC Tournament on Monday at Diamond Bar at 3 p.m.

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