____________________________ RATES       _______________________________ RATES ________________________

Socialize

2022-2023 BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW – 605 League getting stronger as Artesia, Cerritos has company for upper half supremacy

 

 

November 24, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

After winning the 605 League three straight seasons, Cerritos High dropped to second place last season as Artesia High grabbed the crown. While those two are favored to get the top two spots again, don’t sleep on John Glenn High or Whitney High to battle for third place and the final automatic playoff berth from the league. La Mirada High looks to have another banner season and hopefully make another deep run in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, while Gahr High and Valley Christian High have new coaches.

ARTESIA PIONEERS

26-7 overall last season, 5-0 in the 605 League, first place, lost to Fullerton High 58-56 in the Division 4AA semifinals, lost to Atascadero High 63-49 in the first round of the Division IV Southern California Regionals.

Head coach: Jeff Myles (fourth season, 57-29)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 91-51

Last time missed the playoffs: 1981

Division 3AA

STARTERS LOST: Miles Jennings (8.0 points per game last season), Yutong Zhang (4.3 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Steve Anderson (8.2 ppg.), JR Aaron Banks (12.2 ppg.), JR Zion Staples (12.7 ppg.)

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Andrew Noquez, JR Dontaye Hardy, SO Cayden Del Rosario, SO Masiah Morizane, SO Jaylen Reed

TOP NEWCOMERS: SR Caleb Brown-Stanton, JR Joshua Martinez (transfer from Salesian High), JR Tyler Robinson (transfer from Gahr)

It had been a long time since Artesia experienced what happened last season. The Pioneers recorded the most wins and advanced the farthest in the CIF-SS playoffs since winning the I-AA title and the state championship during the 2006-2007 campaign. Before last season, the program had gone 14 straight seasons winning between eight and 18 games while losing anywhere from eight to 20 games. Already, head coach Jeff Myles has more wins in his first three seasons than any Artesia coach during that time since Scott Pera compiled a 73-16 mark from 2000-2001 to 2002-2003. Although Artesia fell in the semifinals, the team still advanced to the CIF Southern California Regionals.

“Last season was great,” said Myles. “It was my third year but my first full year at the helm. I thought the guys played well. We had a great senior leader in Miles Jennings and again, basketball is a cruel game sometimes. You can do everything right and you still kind of fall short. I’m proud of the accomplishment but last [year] is in the past and we have to get ready for this year.”

The good news is the Pioneers return a good chunk from last season’s team. The bad news is the rest of the 605 League has to deal with even a better Artesia group, and the Pioneers also moved up two divisions. It doesn’t get any better than the tandem of juniors Aaron Banks and Zion Staples, two of the best in Southern California. Both have elevated their games and have the potential to score close to 20 points this season. And if opponents want to focus on those two, there’s senior Steve Anderson, who could average double digits.

“Aaron last year was an All-CIF player; a great player, and Zion is ready to make leaps and bounds this year, even more than he did last year,” said Myles. “I think all three can be next level players. But again, that’s three out of the five [in the starting lineup]. We have to plug in two more and we still need a bench because those guys can easily twist an ankle or [something else]. Anything can happen; we still have to have guys to rely on.”

Myles added that Staples has improved his shooting, especially in the three-point area while Banks has improved on being more of a leader, both offensively and defensively and wants to guard the opponent’s best player. Senior Andrew Noquez, who is the smallest player on the team, is the toughest, according to Myles, and will be plugged into the starting lineup with the other starting spot probably going to junior Dontaye Hardy.

The Pioneers have the talent to repeat as league champs, something that hasn’t happened to the program since winning back to back state titles in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. But making another deep run in a new division is a different story.

“That’s a scary [division] because I’ve heard that it’s kind of unprecedented that a team would jump two divisions,” said Myles. “It’s kind of what the system is. I think we got penalized for winning the game at Santa Monica [and] the game at Paramount. I can understand how the CIF works; trying to keep it with competitive balances. The division is tough…but I think the guys are ready for a challenge. This year we scheduled tougher to get ready for the playoffs. The thing about basketball is you have to throw the ball up and see what happens.”

When it comes to expectations, Myles has three goals-always try to finish above .500, try to win league and try to go as far as you can in the playoffs. He said that if the Pioneers play Fullerton, the team they lost to in the semifinals, five times, his team wins 60 percent of those games.

CERRITOS DONS

9-15 overall last season, 4-1 in the 605 League, second place, lost to Chaparral High 77-38 in the Division 3AA first round playoffs.

Head coach: Jonathan Watanabe (21st season, second stint, 305-248)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 80-47

Last time missed the playoffs: 2007

Division 3A

STARTERS LOST: Brendon Dela Pena (5.3 points per game last season), SR Andrew Hartman (5.5 ppg.), Alec Reyes (6.0 ppg.), Armand Soriano (6.0)

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Dominic DelaCruz (4.9 ppg.)

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Chase Rambaran, JR Osinachi Agaranna, JR Luke Rigor

TOP NEWCOMERS: JR Tobenna Ozoagu, JR Shay Pema

After stepping away as the varsity head coach to assume the same duties with the freshmen team, longtime Cerritos fixture Jonathan Watanabe returns to varsity for his second stint. The Dons failed to win 10 games for the first time since the 2000-2001 season but managed to get to the postseason for the 15th straight season.

“When [Cerritos principal Patrick] Walker asked me to come back, I couldn’t refuse,” said Watanabe. “I really enjoyed coaching the freshmen team and I really liked our personnel of players, both of their ability, but also more importantly, their character. They all worked hard, they listened, they showed up and they played for one another. When I was looking at the other players coming back at that time; the sophomores and the juniors at the time, I really thought we had a special group that will be fun to coach and that I would enjoy.”

The good news is that Watanabe will have some players from his freshman team on varsity. The bad news is there are only four returning varsity players with senior Dominic DelaCruz the lone three-year varsity member. Senior Chase Rambaran and juniors Osinachi Agaranna and Luke Rigor are the other returning players, all of whom combined to score 87 points and Watanabe will have 11 first-year varsity players with one of them being a senior, making it a potential to be a challenging season. Rigor split time on the freshmen team and varsity as a freshman, then junior varsity last season and now back on the varsity squad.

“It might be [challenging],” he said. “I have guys who I coached at the freshman level, so they know the basics of the system that we run. But it’s not like they’re returning to the varsity level. So, there’s a big adjustment. We have one freshman, and we have five sophomores who have never played a regulation [junior varsity] game. Going from eighth grade and the freshman team to varsity is a huge jump. It’s going to be a challenge; we’re going to be young and inexperienced. But we have great kids and I think regardless of how we end up it’s going to be a fun process.”

Agaranna and junior Tobenna Ozoagu, the tallest players on the team, are getting looked at by some next level schools and Watanabe says they have the potential to do it. He added that Ozoagu and junior Shay Pema should have been on varsity last season and that he sometimes has the sophomores leading the juniors

The Dons still have a challenging non-league slate which will prepare them for the tougher league slate that awaits them. A top three finish is still in the sights but winning a fourth 605 League crown in the past five seasons may be a different story.

“It is a group that I’m so happy that I decided to come back and coach, but it is a great group of guys,” said Watanabe. “We are definitely going to struggle in the beginning of the year, but our goal is to take our level of play up one notch so that we’re prepared for the preseason, and then to take it up another notch as we enter league and hopefully contend.

“Our teams in our league are going to be good,” he continued. “This is one of the years that our league is really striving. Artesia is loaded and Glenn brings back their best two players and I’ve heard they’ve been playing really well.”

GAHR GLADIATORS

15-10 overall last season, 5-5 in the San Gabriel Valley League, tied for third place

Head coach: Marcus Girley (first season)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 61-59

Last time made the playoffs: 2019

Division 3AA

STARTERS LOST: Daniel Okoro (11.4 points per game last season), Caleb Shepherd (5.9 ppg.), Jayden Thomas (9.9 ppg.), SR Kane Young (14.2 ppg.), SO Dillon Chelsea (16.9 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: None

OTHERS RETURNING: JR Dayvon Gates (7.1 ppg.), JR Jared Joseph, JR Evan Spurlin-Renfroe

TOP NEWCOMERS: JR Trey Reyes, JR Noah Taylor, SO Uchenna Okoli

Gahr had a solid team built around senior experience and young talent and despite finishing five games above .500 and tied for third place in the San Gabriel Valley League, the Gladiators missed the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth time in the last five seasons. Stepping down as head coach is Ricky Roper, who had coached Gahr the past 12 seasons, putting together a 223-134 record with two trips to the divisional finals and a championship in 2015. Enter Marcus Girley, who recently was an assistant at Price High and before that the head coach at Animo South in Los Angeles. Hired this past spring, he was also a player development coach at Gahr during the 2015-2016 season.

Girley steps into a precarious situation as half of last season’s team graduated and of the other six on the team, only three come back with none being consistent starters. In fact, with Dillon Chelsea, who led the team in scoring as a freshman, not coming back, the offense takes a big hit. Only junior Dayvon Gates is an established scorer with juniors Jared Joseph and Evan Spurlin-Renfroe combining for 77 points last season.

“The biggest thing was trying to get [the team] up to speed, even a little different level of speed and intensity,’ said Girley on when he was hired. “Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do during practice. They just need the game rep. So, I tried to play a lot of summer league games and fall league games. I try to keep my kids confident while they continue to grow and learn the game.”

In the three returning players, Girley says Gates is self-maintained to an extent and for the first time, will be asked to be the leader of the Gladiators and he will have the ball in his hands in a lot of the possessions. Spurlin-Renfroe is the vocal leader of the team and brings communication to the team.  However, coming from the football team a few weeks ago, he is still dealing with some nagging injuries and is getting back in shape. Girley has been playing him slow until he gets up to speed.

Girley says that Gates and Joseph are definitely starters this season and it should be noted that there are no seniors, and of the 13 on the team, nine are juniors. Sophomore Uchenna Okoli, a 6’5” center is someone Girley says he wants to build the team around. Junior Trey Reyes is the most consistent shooter in the program right now, according to Girley, and junior Noah Taylor are slated to be in the starting lineup.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of program where I had zero seniors,” said Girley. “This is kind of new for me. Obviously, I know I have these guys for two more years. My whole goal was this year, obviously I would love to win as many games as possible; would love to have a playoff run. But if nothing else, I want guys to be competitive and start building for that future so that next year, in the spring, we can hit the ground running.”

JOHN GLENN EAGLES

14-13 overall last season, 3-2 in the 605 League, third place, lost to Fontana High 48-40 in the Division 5A quarterfinal playoffs.

Head coach: Sam Abebe (second season, 14-13)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 27-88

Last time missed the playoffs: 2021

Division 5AA

STARTERS LOST: Natanael Jacobo (5.8 points per game last season), Richard Ramos (11.0 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Sebastian Figueroa (14.5 ppg. in 15 games), SR Michael Saucedo (11.0 ppg.), JR Seyharmony Somchan (8.8 ppg.)

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Frank Sanchez

TOP NEWCOMERS: SR Armando Arreola, SR Andrew Donis, FR Sean Deleon

The best story coming from last season happened at Glenn, where the Eagles ended years and years of futility. They had a winning record for the first time in over 25 seasons. They won at least 10 games for the second time in the past 25 seasons. They hosted a playoff game, and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. And the team did all this with a first-year head coach in Sam Abebe, with no more than eight players at any time. But was it everything he could have imagined?

“Now when I look back at it, yeah,” he said. “But at the end, I have high expectations. So, yes, and no because I expect myself to do something unique here and we did. I feel accomplished, but again, we came up a little bit short, obviously. We lost by eight to Fontana and I know talking to guys from other teams who they played out there, that we could have gotten by Fontana.”

Abebe admitted he hopes to never go through another season with a small team in terms of numbers. But the Eagles begin this campaign with nine players, five of them seniors, four returners and three starters.

Abebe continued by saying he expects more history being made this season as everyone has improved since the loss to Fontana. The heart and soul of the team begins with senior Sebastian Figueroa, who sat out the first half of last season because of the transfer rule. But when he was eligible, he was as advertised, scoring in double figures in 10 of the 15 games played, including a team-high 32-point performance against River Springs High in the first round of the playoffs. He will be complemented in the starting lineup by senior Michael Saucedo and junior Seyharmony Somchan, both of whom could reach 13-15 points a game.

“Mike is a key player this year,” said Abebe. “He’s the point guard and when he plays well, it’s funny how we all play well. I know that’s kind of a cliché thing to say, but it really is true. Having him back…man, that is absolutely astronomical. On top of that, he’s an actual true Glenn kid. He’s been coming here for four years.”

Of Figueroa, who is the team’s top offensive player and was the school’s first-ever All-CIF player, Abebe says he needs to work on his defense and if he is able to put all the mental parts together, he could be one Glenn’s all-time top athletes. Abebe added that Somchan is the best overall player both ways.

Senior Frank Sanchez is expected to be the starting center who scored in eight games and totaled 24 points, but according to Abebe, doesn’t care about scoring but instead is willing to do other things. The last starting spot is slated for senior Armando Arreola.

Abebe knows it will be tough to chase down Artesia, or even Cerritos for the top spot in the 605 League. But third place is there for Glenn and if the Eagles can pull off an upset or two, then second place could be attainable.

“Without a doubt,” said Abebe. “Again, last year’s team…I love that team because it was my first ever varsity team. It has a special place in my heart. But this team that I have right now is way more athletic, way more [faster] and has a higher IQ in basketball. This is a better team. The issue with this team is mental; a lot of mental roadblocks. I do think we won’t be a walkover.”

LA MIRADA MATADORES

18-15 overall last season, 6-0 in the Suburban League, first place, lost to San Juan Hills High 59-49 in the Division 2A championship game, lost to Los Altos High 55-37 in the quarterfinals of the Division II Southern California Regionals.

Head coach: Randy Oronoz (fifth season, second stint, 72-49)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 81-57

Division 2A

STARTERS LOST: Isiah Kalaj, Aidan Nasser

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Sean Cervantes, SR Athan Sierra, SO Julien Gomez

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Rene Arce, SO Jarrett Cole, SO Chris Perez, SO Morgan Smith

TOP NEWCOMERS: JR Christopher Cuevas (transfer from Warren High), JR Michael Torres (transfer from California High), JR Isaiah Valenzuela (transfer from Veritas Prep)

Sometimes it’s not how you start, but how you finished, and La Mirada proved that last season. The Matadores began the season 7-13, then went undefeated in the Suburban League and finally eclipsed the .500 mark when they defeated Beckman High in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs. While La Mirada fell in the finals on its home court, head coach Randy Oronoz couldn’t have asked for anything more.

“Last season was pretty special for us,” said Oronoz. “Our record didn’t show it, but going into our league, we were 7-13 and out of those 13 losses, we lost about eight of them by two to four points, all coming down to the wire. It felt like in December, we couldn’t buy a win. The good thing about that is we had kids not heathy get cleared, and then we put it together and went on a pretty special run.”

La Mirada returns seven players, three of whom are seniors and the other four are sophomores. The heart and soul of the team will come from senior Sean Cervantes and sophomore Julien Gomez, who was nothing short of spectacular as a freshman at the varsity level.

“I’ve been saying it all summer, but Sean is the best true point guard left in California,” said Oronoz. “When I say true point guard, I mean a guy that makes everyone around him better. He’s evolved in his scoring, he recently picked up a couple of offers at Whittier College and [the University of the] Pacific and Oregon. I think he’ll get more this year, but Sean is the hardest worker I’ve ever had.

“Julien Gomez, in the fall, averaged 26 points a game,” he continued. “He went from 17 [points a game] to make an eight-point increase from his freshman to his sophomore year…he made it point to not have a second year letdown. He, in my opinion, is the best player in the area and he’s looking forward to proving that this year.”

Sophomore Jarrett Cole tore his ACL during the playoff run and is likely out this season, although Oronoz suggested he could be back before the end of the season but will not rush Cole’s recovery time. The only juniors on the team are all transfers with Christopher Cuevas and Michael Torres each standing at 6’4”.

With the new Gateway League as part of the Suburban Valley Conference, the Matadores will face new opponents but still familiar to the program.

“It’s cool because losing the three teams a couple of years back-Cerritos, Artesia and John Glenn-it made our league extremely small, which kind of was a hassle in scheduling games around that time because everyone was in league,” said Oronoz. “Joining this new league…we’re not new to Dominguez. We’ve played them the last two years in a row, one in a playoff game and the other in a single. We know Dominguez; we know how good they always are. we always play Downey in the fall or summertime. We have Mayfair, who I think is going to be really good this year as well, and we’re familiar with them. Then Paramount is the newer team. I haven’t seen them in a couple of years, but I know they have been getting better. But the cool part about our league is it seems like it’s a first our second round playoff game with us five teams being extremely competitive.”

NORWALK LANCERS

7-18 overall last season, 1-5 in the Suburban League, tied for third place

Head coach: Brent Campanelli (seventh season, 61-85)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 50-70

Last time made the playoffs: 2020

Division 4A   

STARTERS LOST: JR Yahir Martinez (4.9 points per game last season in 20 games), JR Zack Powell (13.0 ppg.), JR Robert Salazar (4.4 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Aytin Reyes (6.4 ppg.), JR Jesus Gomez (4.3 ppg.)

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Vincent Hernandez, SR Alejandro Martinez, SR James McGarrah

TOP NEWCOMERS: SR Saul Barcelo, JR Jakhari Ramey, SO Andrew Castellanos, SO Aaron Reyes

Since advancing to the quarterfinals in the 2019-2020 season with the program’s best record in over 25 years, the Lancers have struggled since, combining to win 11 games and finishing in third place in a four-team league. On top of that, just when Norwalk High was starting to make some waves with some young talent, a trio of starters, all of whom would be juniors this season are not back with the team.

“I think [last season was] definitely disappointing,” said head coach Brent Campanelli. “But it was somewhat to be expected. I hate to use the excuse, but our transition out of the quarantine was really difficult and we were trying to find a lot of pieces to make up for that 2019-2020 team.”

He added that one positive was that the Lancers return a lot of players for this season, including a senior group that has been together as friends and teammates for four years. Senior point guard Aytin Reyes and junior Jesus Gomez return as starters and the only offensive leaders from last season.

“Sometimes it can be addition by subtraction,” said Campanelli of losing three starters. “I loved having those guys on the team. But we have to carry on and I think this group has grown together a lot. Some things happened last year that we don’t need to get into. But because of that, I think we have grown together. Having Jesus and Aytin gone through a season and being back, they have really stepped up into a leadership role.”

Campanelli said most of the scoring will come from Gomez, senior Vincent Hernandez and junior Jakhari Ramey, who will be leaned on to be the main focal point on offense.

When it comes to the new Mid-Cities League, Campanelli says it gives the program an opportunity it hasn’t had in his tenure at Norwalk. But at the same time, he knows it won’t be easier given that Gahr, Lynwood High and Warren High from the old San Gabriel Valley League will be nee league opponents. The last time the Lancers have finished above third place in league play was the 2009-2010 season. Since then, the program has had five third place finishes.

“We have an opportunity,” he said. “Where we were only playing six [league] games, now we’re getting the full 10. So, we’re having an opportunity to get in [the playoffs] that way.”

VALLEY CHRISTIAN DEFENDERS

17-11 overall last season, 3-5 in the Olympic League, 3rd place, lost to Los Altos High 66-58 (OT) in the Division 2AA first round playoffs.

Head coach: Jason Flowers (first season)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 84-52

Last time missed the playoffs: 2011

Division 2A

STARTERS LOST; Nathan Medina (24.0 points per game last season), Micah Sybesma (6.1 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: JR Jacob Bayla (8.7 ppg.), JR Myles Harvey (7.9 ppg.), SO Michael Wright (4.6 ppg.)

OTHERS RETURNING: SR Nick Bozanic, SR D.J. Harrington, SR T.J. Waters, JR Chris Allen, JR Ryan Caracoza

TOP NEWCOMERS: JR Gavin Stahl, FR Josiah James

For the fifth time in the last six seasons, V.C. will have a new coach as Jason Flowers replaces Tom Lewis, who guided the program to its sixth straight winning season. Flowers, who was hired in August, brings with him a lot of experience, mostly from the college ranks. He recently was at California Baptist University the past two years as the director of player development for the women’s team. Before that, he was the head coach at California State University, Northridge from 2010-2020, compiling a record of 150-169, which stands as the most wins and losses in school history. He won the Big West Conference Tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2018 and received an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament those years. Flowers was an assistant for the women’s team at the University of California, Riverside (two years) and Long Beach State University (four years). He was also the head coach for the Santa Ana Valley High girls team for one season and spent some time at Bellflower High when he was a freshman in college.

“Obviously I’m excited about the opportunity to take over the program and lead it and kind of put our stamp on things and how we want to do things,” said Flowers. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about the development of young men; young men of character. And we use the game of basketball in order to do that.”

The big task ahead for the Defenders is how to replace the talent left behind by Nathan Medina, one of the best to have ever worn a V.C. uniform. Only juniors Jacob Bayla and Myles Harvey return from the starting rotation and they combined for less than eight points fewer than what Medina averaged.

“They’re both talented guys,” said Flowers. “They work pretty hard and they’re competitive. So obviously, we’re going to ask them to do a lot as far as leading the group with their experience.”

He added that senior T.J. Waters will also be asked to take on the bulk of production and leadership on the court with Bayla and Harvey. Those three, along with junior Gavin Stahl and freshman Josiah James are likely starters to begin the season.

For the season, Flowers says he expects his team to treat every single day like it was a championship game and that the team’s goal is to work every single day be the best team it can possibly be at the end of the year.

“Whatever that means, if it means going undefeated…whatever result that comes from it, we’ll be fine as long as we know that we put in the work on a day to day basis to become the best group we could possibly be,” said Flowers.

WHITNEY WILDCATS

8-16 overall last season, 2-3 in the 605 League, fourth place

Head coach: Joseph Webber (11th season overall, second season of second stint)

Team’s record previous five seasons: 33-86

Last time made the playoffs: 2015

Division 5AA

STARTERS LOST: Sriram Murakonda (3.1 points per game last season), Andrew Sim (2.3 ppg.), Jayden Tani (2.3 ppg.)

STARTERS RETURNING: SR Ethan Wong (12.9 ppg.), JR Joseph Whitaker (5.0 ppg.)

OTHER RETURNING: SR David Song, SR Justin Wahyodi, JR Sakeef Sekender, SO Morgan Marks

TOP NEWCOMERS: SO Christian Carreon, SO Alex Cheng, SO Kailan Huizon, SO Kaden Huynh, SO Rafael Mercado, SO Jeffrey Nishida, SO Peter Poitras, SO Kendrick Tan

Despite Whitney going through a 10th straight losing season and failing to win 10 games for the fifth straight time, head coach Joseph Webber was most impressed with the heart of the players; how hard they wanted to work and added that it was what made the whole season for him as he returned to the school for a second time as head coach. The Wildcats ended the season with wins over Oxford Academy and Pioneer High in which they hit 15 three-pointers and had every senior score in their last game.

“If anything, the end of the season is what kept us into this new team,” said Webber. “My freshmen team had a winning record last year and eight of those freshmen are on varsity. That’s the backbone of the squad. Last year’s record was indicative of what it was. I only had three months to work with those guys and we did the best we could, and I had total satisfaction at the end of the season.”

While the future looks bright for the Wildcats, the team this season will revolve around senior Ethan Wong, who could average between 15-20 points a game this season. Webber says that he has asked Wong not to stay the same, but to get better with other aspects of his game, including being a leader. It should be noted that Wong will not be asked to do all the scoring all the time, especially with the future of the program on varsity as sophomores. Wong is also being moved to the two-guard where he is free to score on every touch, according to Webber.

“The growth that he has shown emotionally and socially; just becoming a great young man and being a representative of our program is something also that we are all very proud of this year,” said Webber.

Junior Joseph Whitaker, who was a starter last season, did not start during the summer and is coming from the cross country team. He will be a key force coming off the bench, though. Junior Sakeef Sekender will be the starting three-guard while senior David Song, according to Webber, will be a defensive menace and is a silent leader. Sophomore Morgan Marks will be the other starting point guard along with Song and senior Justin Wahyodi is the starting center.

Whitney may not win the 605 League this season, or even finish in second place. But the ‘Cats have a golden shot of challenging someone for the third spot, thus earning an automatic playoff berth for the first time since 2015.

“Our whole goal has been to make the playoffs,” said Webber. “In saying that, we haven’t put any out of this world lofty aspirations to them. Our other goal, as an administration, was to get our division corrected so that if we did make the playoffs, we could be confident, and then hopefully hold our own. I can tell you we did have a winning record this summer and this fall, which was fantastic.”

Have a comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.