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 2018-2019 season.
Who will make the biggest shot of them all?
MARY STAR (24-6 in 2017-2018) – For the fourth straight year, the Stars look to be the top team in town, as last year they won a three-way share of just their second ever league title as tri-Santa Fe League champions with St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs and Salesian of Los Angeles, while reaching the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4-A playoffs. Now third-year coach Mike Sestich and company are in Division 3-A and currently ranked in the top ten.
The face of San Pedro Prep Basketball for the past three years returns for his final year, already signed, sealed and bound for Air Force in senior 6'3'' guard Joseph Octave, the reigning three-time SPNP Prep Boys Basketball Player Of The Year.
Octave was on fire throughout the entire 2017-2018 season in averaging over 27 points a game, and was named All-CIF for the second straight season along with being named the Santa Fe League MVP. Two returning All-SFL players in senior forward Jose Rocha and junior point guard Aaron Martinez also returns to bring toughness and outside shooting prowess. Junior guard Adrian 'Boo Boo' Alvarez and senior forward Josh Fennessey are also key players.
Mary Star will once again battle Salesian for Santa Fe League supremacy but St. Monica of Santa Monica replaces St. Paul to add a little more competitiveness to the league.
SAN PEDRO (6-20 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 18th season for the Pirates, who sunk to a second straight 0-12 Marine League season and absence from the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 2 playoffs.
Will this be the year the Pirates break out of that funk?
Only time will tell but the good news is, CIF-LACS Division 1 champion Washington Prep, and CIF-LACS Division 2 champion King-Drew Medical have left the Marine League and are now the prohibitive co-favorites in the new Imperial League, yet defending league champion Narbonne and a dangerous Gardena team still remain alongside Carson, Banning and league newcomer Rancho Dominguez Prep.
The players San Pedro will look to the most for leadership, scoring and respectability once again will hinge on the senior trio of forward Anson Panton, and guards Jesse March and Myles Price. Junior guard Jackson Wimberly also returns for the Pirates, who feature a lot of first-year varsity players on their 2018-2019 roster.
POLA (13-12 in 2017-2018) - The Polar Bears and second-year coach Spenser Schulte are coming off a very solid season in which they advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF-LACS Division 4 playoffs after an even season in the Crosstown League.
Now in the Imperial League, the competition got raised a lot higher with Washington Prep and King-Drew, along with Jordan (who leaves the Eastern League), Dymally and longtime rival Harbor Teacher Prep of Wilmington, who won the Crosstown League in 2017-2018.
19 point-per-game scorer Timothy Oloimooja has graduated, but POLA is not void from talent and potential as they have senior guard Chuck Lassiter, who is their most dangerous shooter from the perimeter. Several hard-nosed players who will do all the little things to keep the Polar Bears in games like senior forward Ethan Williamson, senior forward Marcus Streator and junior forward Elijah Hardy are also crucial.
MARY STAR (19-9 in 2017-2018) – Now entering his sixth season is coach, Victor Tuberosi will look to guide the Stars to another deep playoff run as they were dangerously close to advancing to the CIF-SS Division 5-AA championship game a season ago, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Grace Brethren of Simi Valley.
Losing two of the hardest working players in 2018 SPNP Prep Girls Basketball Co-Players Of The Year in All-CIF guard Hanalei Emnace and forward Melanie Meza to graduation will hurt, but Mary Star still returns some wonderful talent.
All-Santa Fe League sophomore forward Karla Rocha, the top outside shooter in town, returns alongside the likes of All-Santa Fe League senior center Lorraine Medina, junior forwards Lexi Quilliam and Jenna Miloe, improving sophomore guard Cristina Camacho, and a gifted two-sport athlete in junior guard Sarah Leyba, who also helped the Stars' softball team reach the CIF-SS Division 6 finals.
Sophomore guard/forward Kaitlyn Oasay and POLA transfer sophomore guard Isabella Serrano injects more speed and toughness to the Stars, who appear to be the favorite in the Santa Fe League with champion La Salle of Pasadena now gone and St. Genevieve of Panorama City replaces them.
SAN PEDRO (10-15 in 2017-2018) – Roderick Torrence is the new coach for the Lady Pirates, who advanced to the CIF-LACS Division 1 playoffs once again before bowing in the first round, and is now in Division 2 for 2018-2019.
All-Marine League junior foward Adri'yanna Edmonds returns and is the established leader of the team now that junior point guard Sierra Hayes has transferred to Inglewood. Senior forward Imani Banks and senior guard Lizeth Islas are other returning players for San Pedro.
POLA (10-7 in 2017-2018) – The Polar Bears placed third in the Crosstown League last season and reached the CIF-LACS Division 4 quarterfinals just like their boys counterparts, but their two top players, Isabella Serrano (Mary Star) and Chloe Clemons (Peninsula), both transferrred out.
Volleyball players Kaylen Scott and Ayanna Rendon have joined the team this year to establish the Lady Bears who will look to make some noise in the new Imperial League.