Irvine Valley, which is in the middle of a long break because of byes, has the inside track on the Orange Empire Conference women's basketball title.
The Lasers (17-6, 4-1), who have a two-game lead in the loss column, start the second round Friday with a 5:30 p.m. game at Orange Coast (17-8, 3-3). OCC is one of four teams with a 3-3 conference record. Cypress (18-7, 3-3), Fullerton (15-10, 3-3) and Rancho Santiago (16-6, 3-3) also are tied for second.
Irvine Valley beat Cypress, 63-41, Jan. 29 and is off until Friday because in the original conference schedule the Lasers were supposed to play Golden West on Jan. 31 and Saddleback on Feb. 5. But both teams have suspended their programs for one season.
"Normally you don't like this much of a break," Irvine Valley Coach Lisa McNamee said. "But it's really good to have a bit of a break because we have a few players sick."
For what it's worth: There was no clear home-court advantage during the first round of Orange Empire Conference men's basketball play, which ended last Wednesday. Visiting teams won 15 times and lost 13.
No surprise: The accomplishments of Orange Empire Conference baseball teams, including winning the last four state titles and five of the last six, have long been a source of pride.
Orange County's six teams started play last Friday and combined for a 17-3 record. Rancho Santiago, which has won the last two state titles, went 4-0 in the Rio Hondo tournament. Saddleback and Fullerton each went 3-0 in the Nike Classic and Orange Coast and Golden West were 2-1 in the same tournament.
Cypress was 3-1 in the College of the Desert tournament.