FALLBROOK — There is a huge shadow cast by the Point Loma High School girls' basketball team. It's so big that it covers the entire county.
One team in that shadow is Fallbrook, which lost to Point Loma in last season's San Diego Section 3-A championship game. The Pointers then went on to win their second straight state championship.
But Fallbrook has a winning tradition of its own. The Warriors have won 11 consecutive league titles and have appeared in the section championship game five times, winning twice.
The 11 titles came under the direction of Coach Buck White, who left following last season to coach the Mira Costa Junior College women's team. Also, the Warriors lost three starters to graduation.
"We were wondering how we'd do," Fallbrook guard Jennifer Jann said. "We have a new coach and lost our starters."
Fallbrook is not wondering any longer. Under Coach Gerry Port, the Warriors are 12-4 and rated fifth in the county in a coaches' poll. Despite a Palomar League-opening loss to San Dieguito, 61-58, Fallbrook is still expected to win the league title.
"We were expecting (San Dieguito) to be pretty easy," Jann said. "They hadn't beaten us in 11 years.
"We know we have a lot of potential. We sat down and set some goals for ourselves. First, we want to win the league. Then, we want to go back to the Sports Arena and meet up with Point Loma again."
Back in the shadow again.
Late starters: The three city leagues will finally begin league play Friday.
In the City Eastern League, Patrick Henry (7-3), winner of six straight games, opens at Morse (8-3) in a rematch of last year's top two finishers. Mira Mesa (9-4) plays at Madison (9-3) in another key game.
The City East will feature even matchups weekly. From top to bottom, this is the county's strongest league. It is the only league in the county without a team with a losing record. Serra (11-1), which is expected to contend for the league title, opens at Point Loma (7-7).
The four teams expected to contend in the City Central League will have important openers. Christian (8-3) plays at Lincoln (5-6). Hoover (5-9), the defending league champion, is at Crawford (7-5).
Mission Bay (1-8), which won the City Western League title last season, opens on the road against University City (2-10). Kearny (9-7) will play host to La Jolla (4-2) in a key opener.
A change of light: Last season, the Castle Park boys' basketball team struggled to adjust to the loss of a number of players who transferred. Prior to the 1984-85 season, the Trojans lost Mahlon Williams and Sean Styles to Sweetwater and Aaron Silveyra to Poway.
This season, they lost guard Kip Korzep to Bonita Vista, but the Trojans are 12-1 and on top of the Metro South Bay League standings. Much of the reason for Castle Park's success is 5-foot 10-inch Javier Nunez. The junior point guard is averaging 12.8 points, 3.5 steals and 4.2 assists per game.
Oh yeah, Nunez is a transfer from Marian.
Bishop's goes west: The Bishop's boys' soccer team made its debut in the 2-A Conference City Western League with a 4-1 loss to University City Friday. Bishop's had been a member of the 1-A Coastal League and participated in the 2-A playoffs at the end of the regular season. Bishop's eliminated University City in the playoffs last season.