It's that time of year again... as the high school basketball scene is already underway. Plenty of potential to be shown out of the San Pedro, Port Of Los Angeles and Mary Star Of The Sea High boys and girls programs as they are in full swing for the 2017-2018 season.
Who will make the biggest shot of them all?
MARY STAR (21-9 in 2016-2017) – Right now, the Stars are one of the most feared teams in the CIF-Southern Section as a preseason No.2 ranked team for Division 4-AA, a Division the Stars came dangerously close to winning last season, as they fell in the semifinals to Shalhevet of Los Angeles.
However, second year head coach Mike Sestich and his crew have already defeated Shalhevet and defending champion Milken in their last two games during a current 5-0 start to this season.
The player to watch is no doubt 6’3’’ junior guard Joseph Octave, an All-CIF returning selection who averaged just under 25 points a game last season who thrives in pressure situations. Even with Octave, Mary Star has other viable scoring threats such as junior guard Jose Rocha, sophomore guard Aaron Martinez, senior guard D’Andrew Lopez and senior forward Don Grondin for the Stars, who will once again battle St. Paul and Verbum Dei for Santa Fe League supremacy after last year’s 7-3 runner-up finish.
SAN PEDRO (6-19 overall in 2017-2018) – Longtime prep boys basketball head coach John Bobich, owner of seven CIF titles (5 at Pacific Hills and 2 at San Pedro) is now in his 16th season for the Pirates, and it can’t get any worse than it could have gone like the end of last season where they lost 11 consecutive games, also going 0-12 in the Marine League.
There’s no place to go but up right?
It all determines on how a young, gritty San Pedro team responds.
Sophomore guard Jackson Wimberly is the newest Pirate that’s on the rise, but the Pirates are again undersized, as 6’4’’ senior forward Christian Custard is the tallest player on the roster that also returns All-Marine League second team junior forward Anson Panton. Junior guard Jessie March will have several opportunities to step his game up offensively due to the loss of two-time All-Marine League guard Cole Turner who transferred to the East Coast.
Senior guard Daniel Lopez and senior forward Kalani Preston will also be crucial to San Pedro’s hopes of restoring pride and respectability to a program that just seven years ago, won the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 2 championship.
POLA (6-12 in 2016-2017) - The Polar Bears once again have a new coach, as Spenser Schulte will try to clean up the mess from last year’s team, that forfeited some victories due to ineligible player use, leaving them at 6-8 in the Crosstown League and out of the CIF-LACS playoffs.
Returning seniors in guard Mycah Serdenia, center Joseph Magana, guard Timothy Oloimooja will look to pace the Polar Bears, but 6’6’’ senior center William Brady and senior guard Nick Skrumbis are top newcomers, as is senior forward Austin Martinez.
MARY STAR (18-10 in 2016-2017) – The Angela Pisano-era has ended, but the Stars and fifth-year coach Victor Tuberosi will remain the top team in town, and like the boys, also inherit a preseason No.2 ranking for CIF-Southern Section Division 5-AA after last year’s quarterfinals berth.
Two-time all-league point guard Hanalei Emnace, who is the best on-ball defender of all the schools with a 4.7 steals per game average, will now be the team’s proven leader and acts as a coach on the floor.
Other key players for Mary Star will include all-league returning senior forward Melanie Meza, and all-league returning senior guard Jillian Duran, but freshman G/F Karla Rocha has a cannon from three-point range which gives the Stars a new dynamic. Don’t forget about junior center Lorraine Medina clogging up the middle for rebounds as well.
With defending Santa Fe League & CIF champion Bell-Jeff now gone, the Stars look to be in a three-team race with La Salle and St. Bernard for the title.
SAN PEDRO (7-21 in 2016-2017) – Even with the horrific overall record in the first year under now second-year head coach Eric Parker, the Lady Pirates still made the CIF-LACS Division 1 playoffs but were quickly eliminated in the first round.
All-Marine League sophomores in guard Sierra Hayes and center Adri’yanna Edmonds both return for San Pedro (5-7 in the Marine League last season), and both are expected to carry the load once again. Senior forward Mariah Gonzalez will also be key for the Lady Pirates.
POLA (9-7 in 2016-2017) – While San Pedro still made the CIF-LACS Division 1 playoffs with a losing record last season, the Polar Bears were the unfortunate ones with a winning record, but were still not entered into the CIF-LACS Division 3 playoffs due to being swept in the season series by Crosstown League rival Harbor Teacher Prep.
First year head coach Paul Anderson will look to bring POLA back to postseason play as they’ll be paced by three-year veteran senior guard Ardent Almazan, and freshman forward Chloe Clemons. Senior forward Natalie Moreno is the only other returning player besides Almazan.
San Pedro will host their tenth annual Pirate Shootout boys basketball tournament from December 26-29 at both the Flagship & Olguin Campuses, as Mary Star and POLA will both take part in it for only the second time. Mary Star has been in the tournament every year.
Also on January 3, Mary Star will host POLA once again for a girls basketball intersectional duel at 5 pm.