When the Chargers advanced to the Super Bowl in the 1994 season, football remained San Diego’s only winter sport.

The Chargers of 2007 extended the football season into the winter with Sunday’s AFC Championship game at the New England Patriots, but basketball season isn’t dead in San Diego anymore.

There’s no NBA team, thanks to Donald Sterling hi-jacking the San Diego Clippers to Los Angeles, but San Diego State’s program has been to the NCAA and the NIT under Steve Fisher and new USD coach Bill Grier has made his mark already with an upset at Kentucky.

The Aztecs (13-4, 3-0 Mountain West Conference) are undefeated in the conference heading into Saturday night’s game against Wyoming at Cox Arena.

The Toreros (8-10, 1-0 West Coast Conference), a preseason pick to finish third in the WCC, play Saturday afternoon at national power Gonzaga.

And high school basketball is on the rise, too.

On Monday night in the Mark Hall Memorial Classic, two of the nation’s best big men battled when San Diego High and 6-foot-11 sophomore Jeremy Tyler beat Horizon and 7-foot senior Jeff Withey.

Withey is one of the top big men in the country that is bound for Arizona. Tyler is ranked the No. 1 sophomore in the country by Rivals.com.

“The gym was packed, and it was a great night for people to see to see to future great players,” said Hoover coach Ollie Goulston, director the Mark Hall Classic at the Cardinals’ gym. “Jeremy got in foul trouble early, but he made some big plays at the end. Teams are packing it on Jeff, but he really showed his experience early in the game.”

The Mark Hall Memorial Classic, named for one of Hoover’s former players that died in a car accident while playing at UC Riverside, is an outgrowth of the MLK Showcase at Hoover.

“People want to see local matchups between the best teams and best players,” Goulston said. “More good players are coming out of San Diego. We had (La Costa Canyon and McDonald’s All-American alumnus) Chase Budinger here two years ago. People keep coming back to our games every year.”

— TOM SHANAHAN

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