Here is the top-10 boys basketball teams in the L.A. North region. The teams are ranked with their 2010 records in parantheses:
Harvard-Westlake (29-5) – The Wolverines won the Southern Section Division 3A championship and advanced to the semifinals of the Southern California Regional in the CIF State Division 3 playoffs last year. Harvard-Westlake has two talented seniors returning. Zena Edosomwan averaged 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his junior season. He scored 11 points and had 15 rebounds against Inglewood in the championship game of the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs. Josh Hearlihy averaged 14.5 points per game in his junior season. Sophomore forward Derick Newton has already made an impact with Harvard-Westlake, dropping 30 points on Dominguez on Saturday (Dec. 3). He was 8-for-10 from the field and 11-for-13 from the free-throw line.
Key returners: Edosomwan (senior forward), Hearlihy (senior guard).
Key newcomers: Newton (sophomore forward), Alex Copeland (freshman guard).
Can’t-miss games: Harvard-Westlake vs. Loyola at Roybal Learning Center (Jan. 13), Harvard-Westlake at Crespi (Jan. 20), Alemany at Harvard-Westlake (Jan. 21), Harvard-Westlake vs. Loyola at L.A. Valley College (Feb. 3).
Woodland Hills Taft (29-3) – One of the key losses for Taft team is coach Derrick Taylor. He guided Taft to the City Section Division I championship last season, beating longtime nemesis Westchester, 66-62, in the title game. Jason Hart takes over a talented team, despite the loss of three key seniors. Seniors Brandon Perry and Steven Jones will anchor a promising team. They saw limited action last year, but displayed moments of brilliance. Perry averaged 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a junior. He scored a season-high 17 points against El Camino Real in a 67-36 win for Taft. Jones only scored 3.9 points per game, but had one of his best games in the CIF State Division I playoffs. He scored 10 points and was one of five players from Taft in double figures in a 94-81 loss to Centennial in the semifinals of the Southern California regional. Much of the success of this team will depend on if or when Anthony January will become eligible to play for Taft. He transferred from Compton and isn’t expected to be able to play for Taft until next month.
Key returners: Perry (senior forward), Steven Jones (senior guard).
Key newcomers: Hart (head coach).
Key transfer: January (Compton).
Can’t-miss game: Taft at El Camino Real (Jan. 11).
Crespi (24-9) – The Celts lost their top scorer and floor leader, Matt Mounier, to graduation, but have three talented seniors returning. Crespi lost in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs, 42-40, to Inglewood. The Celts earned a berth in the CIF State Division 3 playoffs and advanced to the second round before losing to La Canada, 43-42. Senior guard London Perrantes averaged 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Justin Rubia will most likely join Perrantes in the backcourt for Crespi. He averaged 7.3 points per game as a junior. Forward Michael Milligan will provide senior leadership in the frontcourt.
Key returners: Perrantes (junior guard), Michael Avery (senior guard), Rubia (senior guard), Milligan (junior forward).
Key newcomer: Sammy Linn (freshman guard).
Can’t-miss games: Crespi at Alemany (Jan. 11), Harvard-Westlake at Crespi (Jan. 20), Crespi at Loyola (Jan. 23).
Alemany (20-11) – Alemany advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs and lost to Windward, 79-67. The Warriors will be an experienced and talented team. Point guard Max Guercy returns after leading Alemany in scoring at 15.6 points per game. He also led the team in assists with 3.3 per game and was the top 3-point shooter at 39 percent. He made 49-of-127 3-point shots in his junior season. Senior guard Marqueze Coleman scored a team-high 15 points in the semifinal playoff game against Windward and averaged 13.1 points per game in his junior season. He was one of the top rebounders as well, pulling down 5.7 per game. Jerico Richardson, who also plays football at Alemany and is headed to UCLA next season, will be a key player off the bench for Alemanty. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last year. Freshman Malik Anderson is a man-child at 6-feet-6 and 200 pounds.
Key returners: Coleman (senior guard), Guercy (senior guard), Coleman (senior guard).
Key newcomer: Anderson (freshman forward)
Can’t-miss games: Loyola at Alemany (Jan. 6), Crespi at Alemany (Jan. 11), Alemany at Harvard-Westlake (Jan. 21), Alemany Showcase (Feb. 4)
Calabasas (20-9) – Calabasas made a quick exit in the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs last year losing to Cerritos, 68-56, in he first round. The 2011 version of the Calabasas basketball team is already starting to turn heads though. Calabasas won the Campbell Hall Tournament on Saturday (Dec. 3). The Coyotes beat host Campbell Hall, 72-57, in the championship game. Sophomore guard Jeremy Lieberman scored 22 points and had eight assists for Calabasas. Senior Josh Cohan poured in 15 points and was 7-of-15 from the field. Calabasas has a nice mix of veteran and young players. Spencer Levy provides senior leadership in the backcourt. A trio of sophomores led by Lieberman are expected to see considerable playing time.
Key returners: Cohan (senior forward), Levy (senior guard).
Key newcomers: Lieberman (sophomore guard), Max Hoetzel (sophomore guard), Austen Smith (sophomore forward).
Can’t-miss game: Calabasas at Royal (Dec. 13), Calabasas vs. Oaks Christian in Oaks Christian Christmas Tournament (Dec. 27), Thousand Oaks at Calabasas (Jan. 13).
Royal (19-11) – Royal reached the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division 2A playoffs and lost to Foothill, 62-54. A pair of juniors will lead an experienced team at Royal this year. Max McCoy averaged 14.9 points per game and led Royal in 3-point percentage, making 49-of-122 shots at a 40 percent clip. Nick Creber was Royal’s top rebounder at 8.3 per game and averaged 11.2 points per game. Senior J.R. Powell took 233 3-point shots and made 84 of them last year. He averaged 14.2 points per game and had 1.4 steals per game. Scott Woods is a big man in the middle at 6-feet-9. He averaged 2.8 blocks per game in his junior season and had 7.4 points per game.
Key returners: Power (senior guard), Creber (junior forward), McCoy (junior guard), Weston Park (junior forward), Woods (junior center).
Can’t-miss game: Royal vs. Oaks Christian in Moorpark Tournament (Dec. 8), Calabasas at Royal (Dec. 13), Royal at Thousand Oaks (Jan. 4), Royal at Calabasas (Jan. 25).
Crescenta Valley (20-8) – After a promising season, Crescenta Valley was upset in the first round of the Southern Section Division 1A playoffs. Quartz Hill, an at-large team from the Golden League, eliminated Crescenta Valley, the seventh-seeded team in the playoffs, 49-46, in the first round. Christian Misi leads a senior-heavy team at Crescenta Valley. Nick Springer is a bit of an unknown, a sophomore transfer from the Virgin Islands.
Key returners: Misi (senior forward), Davis Dragovich (senior forward).
Key newcomer: Springer (sophomore guard)
Can’t-miss game: Crescenta Valley at Pasadena (Jan. 13), Muir at Crescenta Valley (Jan. 17), Pasadena at Crescenta Valley (Feb. 3).
Ventura (29-3) – Ventura had a magical season, winning the Southern Section Division 2AA championship, 56-55 in overtime, against Mission Viejo. The Cougars lost in the second round of the CIF Division 2 State playoffs, 66-45, to a red-hot Summit team, the eventual Southern California champion. Senior point guard Zach Gwin and senior Nick Rudolph, who also plays football and is one of the top receivers in the state, return to lead a senior-heavy, yet inexperienced, team. Gwin averaged only 5.1 points per game in his junior season, but he did have a team-high 3.2 assists per game. Rudolph averaged 6.5 rebounds per game. Jammal Ennis and Gage Henley have started the 2011 season strong. Ennis is averaging 11.6 points per game in the first four games of the season. Henley is averaging 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in the first four.
Key returners: Rudolph (senior forward), Gwin (senior guard).
Key newcomers: Ennis (senior guard), Henley (senior forward)
Can’t-miss games: Ventura Kiwanis Tournament (Dec. 26-29), Ventura vs. Buena at Ventura College (Dec. 14).
Campbell Hall (17-10) – Campbell Hall was a one-ring circus in 2010. Austin McBroom led the team with 25.1 points per game. He graduated, leaving Campbell Hall in the hands of Cole Huff and Jared Harper. Campbell Hall lost to Cypress, 61-52, in the first round of the Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs. Campbell Hall will rely on a quartet of freshmen, including highly touted Aaron Holiday, to make an impact this season. Huff wll provide steady scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game in his junior season. He was also a threat from 3-point territory, making 23-of-62 shots at 39 percent. Harper, a junior, doesn’t score much, but he is handy in the backcourt. He aveaged 1.3 steals per game in his sophomore season.
Key returners: Huff (senior forward), Harper (junior guard).
Key newcomers: Holiday (freshman guard), Kahlil Simplis (freshman guard)
Can’t-miss games: Windward at Campbell Hall (Jan. 3), Sierra Canyon at Campbell Hall (Jan. 6), Flintridge Prep at Campbell Hall (Jan. 7), Campbell Hall at Sierra Canyon (Jan. 31), Campbell Hall at Windward (Jan. 7)
La Canada (30-4) – Can La Canada recreate the chemistry that led the team to the championship game of the CIF Division 3 Southern California regional playoffs last year? La Canada won the Southern Section Division 3AA championship, 50-47, over Price before making an emotional run through the CIF Division 3 State playoffs and losing to Lutheran from La Verne, 57-47, in the Southern California regional final. The 2010 La Canada team started five seniors. Jay Srinivasan and Darrell Dansby didn’t play much last year, but they are the senior leaders on this team. La Canada has a big body in the paint, 6-9 center Conner Boyd.
Key returners: Srinivasan (senior guard), Dansby (senior guard).
Key newcomers: Ryan Lee (junior guard)
Can’t-miss games: La Canada Holiday Classic (Dec. 12), Muir at La Canada (Dec. 16)