1. A surprise early leader has emerged in the Big VIII League, as Roosevelt is the lone unbeaten team after three games. Despite a pair of three-game losing streaks this season, the Mustangs (8-7, 3-0) have won the three that counted, knocking off Norco, Riverside Poly and Corona in league play -- the two most recent wins by double digits. Roosevelt doesn’t have a go-to guy on offense. Senior guards Kendall Brown (11.1 ppg), Shawn Joseph (10.5), Jalen Young (8.2) and Jevion Roland (8.0) have taken turns leading the team in scoring this season. Tonight’s another big test for the Mustangs, as they host preseason league favorite J.W. North (11-4, 2-1) at 6 p.m.
2. The Mt. Baldy League was expected to be a two-horse race between Colony and Montclair, but Don Lugo staked a claim Friday night with a 72-70 victory against visiting Colony, only its second league loss in the last 64 games. Now the Conquistadors (10-4, 2-0) have a date tonight at Montclair (14-1, 2-0) at 6:30 p.m., with the winner taking sole possession of first place. With the recent domination of Colony in the Mt. Baldy League, the Conquistadors haven’t been in this position in a long time. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off another big win.
3. Palm Desert tuned up for Wednesday’s showdown at Palm Springs with a 72-43 victory Friday night at Coachella Valley. The Aztecs (10-3, 2-0) have dropped five straight Desert Valley League games against the Indians (8-4, 2-0), including their only two league losses the last two seasons. They ramped up for this occasion with a strong nonleague schedule. Most impressive was a 15-point loss Dec. 10 against the state’s top-ranked team, Mater Dei, when Palm Desert trailed by just four points at the start of the fourth quarter. Lakers coach Mike Brown, whose son, Elijah, plays for the Monarchs, reportedly took the time afterward to compliment the Aztecs on their effort.
4. Chalk one up for another low-desert team. Big Bear was 10-0 coming into its De Anza League opener Friday night at Shadow Hills in Indio and featured two of the best three-point shooters in the Southern Section in Brad Amburgey and Cody Wilson. The Bears surged to a 16-point lead in the second quarter and it appeared there was nothing left except the long bus ride home. But the Knights lifted themselves off the floor and staged the biggest comeback in the program’s young history, stunning Big Bear, 54-50, thanks to a three-point basket by sophomore Eric Piscatella with 12 seconds remaining, giving Shadow Hills (5-10, 1-0) a two-point lead.
5. Denzel McCloney of Serrano is on quite an offensive tear. The 6-foot senior wing scored 29 points Friday night in a 61-55 victory against Hesperia in a Mojave River League game. It was the eighth consecutive game in which McCloney has scored at least 20 points. After averaging 15.9 points through the first nine games, he has pushed his scoring average to 20.4. McCloney, who averaged 17.6 points last season, will be in action again tonight when the Diamondbacks (7-10, 2-0) host Oaks Hills (8-6, 1-2) in an MRL game at 7:30 p.m.