MEN’S HOOP SCOOP: Surprising Eagles deadlocked for second place … Possible first place shootout, CV vs. REV, on Jan. 22 … Cal State continues challenging for CCAA top spot … Wildcats pull off nice win against Cajon.

Red-hot Arrowhead Christian Academy, which is five points away from topping the standings in the highly-contested Ambassador League, has been full of surprises since the school turned its team over to Lance Evbuomwan this past fall.

It’s far too late for any high school team to be hiring a new coach — no summer league play, no spring ball, off-season tournaments — especially since practice was set to begin.

So how about a spot in a three-way tie for second place, missing out on first by a three-point loss to first place Aquinas and a questionable two-point loss to Ontario Christian? Questionable, in a sense, because Evbuomwan says, “We lost on a tough call.”

Bailey Strikwerda went up for a layup and wound up getting called for an offensive foul.

Evbuomwan, who played football and basketball at Redlands East Valley a few years back, seems to have centered on a lineup led by senior point guard Gabriel Torrez (18 ppg), with junior forward Ethan Sechrist (12 ppg), Strikwerda (16 ppg), 6-5 senior big David Howerzyl and senior shooting guard Cayson Cloar.

“On paper,” he said, “it’s better than any team in Redlands. We have bigs, we have guards, we have a point guard.”

Evbuomwan admitted it was a little late in the game to be taking over a varsity-level team. “I told the guys that it’ll be a tough road. The boys were ready to see what they could do.”

But he used that season-opening Hillcrest Tournament — losses to Corona Santiago, Paloma Valley and Perris Orange Vista — to figure out what talent’s available and where to start.

Defensively, he noted the team’s length — height and reach. Howerzyl, at 6-feet-5 and the 6-3 Strikwerda, are the key components. The idea is for the guards to funnel ballhandlers into ACA’s big guys.

“We wouldn’t be anywhere without playing defense,” Evbuomwan said. “In fact, that’s where we start. It’s strictly defense. To me, that’s why we’re winning games. We’re holding teams under what they’re used to scoring.”

While Aquinas, at 6-0, entered this week in first place, note that second place deadlock that includes ACA, Ontario Christian and Western Christian.

Not since Dominique Butler, ACA’s coach in 2017, have the Eagles won a post-season game. Evbuomwan is the school’s fifth coach since seven-year veteran Mike Allen left in 2014.

Evbuomwan’s already talking about next season.

“I’ve talked to the school about summer league, getting a seventh period,” he said, “for next season.” Right now, he says, “I’m dealing with the hand I’ve been dealt.”