But the cushion – and ultimately the lone playoff spot guaranteed the SCIAC, which CMS would have right now in conference – is nowhere near a lock. Pomona-Pitzer (4-2-1, 7-4-2) will have a chance to make up ground against the Athenas during its nonconference bye-week matchup against Chapman next week. Likewise, Redlands (4-3-1, 7-5-1) and Occidental (4-3-1, 6-6-1) are both within reach with nine points each. Plus, CMS has a rocky schedule on the horizon: The Athenas host Occidental today at 4 p.m., play at Pomona-Pitzer on Oct. 26 and host Redlands in its conference finale on Nov. 2. “At this point, with the other teams winning right now, we control it,” Sanchez said. “As long as we’re winning, we’re OK.” OPEN SEASON Basketball practices began over the weekend, and two of the area’s top programs face daunting tasks this season: replacing their top weapons. The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team lost both its No. 1 and No. 2 all-time scorers in All-American Jeff Bonds and CCAA Player of the Year David Sybesma and the women’s basketball team will have to go on without Candice Allen, who led the nation in scoring the last two seasons. Nonetheless, both programs remain optimistic about carrying on traditions as programs worth national recognition. “I expect it to be like any other year – that’s to be as successful as we possibly can,” women’s coach Paul Thomas said. “I think that by our standards, being in the Elite Eight is one step toward that. And like every other team in America, the hopes of winning a national title has to be there. That’s where we fit in.” The same with the men’s program – which is ranked 13th in the nation’s NCAA Division II preseason poll largely because of the return of West Region All-Tournament selection Jonathan Boyd (Etiwanda High) and All-CCAA second-team selection Hervey Malone II. The women are returning captains Shanika Perkins and Alexis Wilson. But the loss of Allen left the Broncos out of this year’s preseason polls. Thomas agreed with the rationale behind that decision, but doesn’t doubt for a second where the Broncos will stand once the season gets going. “They’re looking at the loss of Candice and saying we don’t have anything left in the tank,” Thomas said. “But I’m excited. I think we’ll surprise a lot of people.” Both Broncos squads will find out exactly what they are made of early. The women’s exhibition schedule includes games against Arizona and UC Santa Barbara, while the men will play Stanford and UC Irvine. THIS AND THAT: Two local cross coun try teams ran away with wins at the annual SCIAC Multi- Duals Cross Country Meet on Friday at La Mirada Park. Junior Will Leer (26:12.70) led Pomona-Pitzer to an 8-0 win with a first-place finish and senior Kim Sonne (23:59.70) led CMS to a 7-0 victory with a second-place finish. … Former Etiwanda High standout Kyle Ochoa scored two game-win ning goals for UC Riverside’s men’s soccer team to be named the Big West Confer ence’s player of the week for Oct. 10-16. Ochoa leads UCR with four goals and is tied for the team lead with nine points. He is also one goal away from tying the freshman record at UCR. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A number of things probably had a hand in the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team losing a handle on the hot start it got off to in last year’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule. Maybe it had something to do with the campaign being Keri Sanchez’s first as head coach. Maybe it was overconfidence. Maybe the grind of college class loads got to the Athenas. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “When you lose a big game, you re-evaluate what you want,” said Sanchez, whose team went 4-5-3 in conference last year. “I think our senior leadership is stepping up, and we’re getting healthy.” Two notable players returning from injury are senior midfielder Sara Solis, who broke her fibula early in the season in a game against Lewis & Clark, and junior forward Nicole Esclamado, who sustained a hyper-extended knee in practice a few weeks ago. Both had key contributions during the last week of action. Solis, an all-conference selection last year, played 25 minutes against Whittier in her second game since returning from the injury, and Esclamado netted two of the Athenas’ four goals on Saturday. CMS is also getting plenty of offense from Michelle Daley – who had a hat trick against Occidental earlier in the year and leads the team in points with seven goals and two assists – and plenty of defense in a new four-back scheme that has helped the Athenas outscore opponents 18-5 in conference action. For that, give credit to goalkeeper Katy Femia (seven shutouts) and defenders Hillary Tribbs, Nichole Pitzen, Carrie Culver and Erin Chamberlain. Whatever it was, it isn’t affecting CMS this year. The Athenas (8-6, 6-2 in SCIAC) took a three-point lead over Pomona-Pitzer in the conference standings with two shutouts – 2-0 over La Verne on Oct. 12 and 4-0 over Whittier on Saturday – to run CMS’s unbeaten streak to three games since a disheartening 3-0 loss to the Sagehens on Oct. 5.