Although the Del Rey League may not be the best basketball conference in the CIF Southern Section, it is certainly among the most balanced. Going into this week's games, five of the seven teams were within a half game of the league lead. Two of them, Bosco Tech and St. Francis, play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bosco Tech in Rosemead.
St. Francis is 3-1 in league play and Bosco Tech 2-2. Both are under .500 for the season (Bosco Tech 7-9, St. Francis 7-8) but have played grueling schedules. St. Francis has a size advantage with 6-8 senior center Matt Dyrek, who complements the outside shooting of 6-2 guard Dan Jordan.
It has been a rebuilding year for Bosco Tech, which reached the CIF 4-A quarterfinals last year behind 6-8 center Wayne Engelstad. With Engelstad now playing at UC Irvine, the Techmen have relied on a small front line with junior forward Mario Diaz (6-3) and senior center William Vasquez (6-4). Another standout for the Techmen is 6-2 junior guard/forward Max Franco.
Wilson vs. Rowland After defeating highly regarded Nogales of La Puente in its Sierra League opener last week, Wilson of Hacienda Heights has emerged as the front-runner for the league title. But there will be high hurdles along the way. One could come Friday when the Wildcats (11-4) host Rowland (7-7) at 7:30 p.m.
If Nogales and Wilson are considered the top teams in the league, Rowland may be next in line. The Raiders are led by 6-1 senior guard Sheldon Borson, an outstanding shooter who is averaging about 25 points a game. Two other leaders are 6-7 center Ryan McReynolds and 6-3 forward Paul Castanas.
While Rowland's strength is mostly from the outside, Wilson is tough inside with 6-8 junior center Scott Williams, who averages about 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats also are led by junior forward Paul Barriga (6-0) and senior guard Scott Richardson (5-10).
Bonita vs. Garey This looks like a match-up of two teams headed in opposite directions. Bonita is 10-4 while Garey is 5-8. But it is usually a close game when these Hacienda League rivals meet. Consider last season when they split two games by a combined total of 4 points. Bonita of La Verne and Garey of Pomona play at 7 p.m. Friday in Pomona.
To stay close, Garey will have to contain Bonita's strong front line of 6-8 1/2 center Greg Trygstad and forwards Robert Morthel (6-4) and Brian Banker (6-5). The Bearcats also have an excellent playmaker in 5-11 junior point guard Clark Moses.
Garey, which won the league title last year, is led by 6-5 senior center George Hardin, an outstanding scorer and rebounder who was an All-CIF performer the last two years.
Pomona vs. Claremont With most of its top players competing on the football team that won the CIF Eastern Conference title, Claremont struggled to a 1-6 non-league start in basketball. But since the start of Baseline League play two weeks ago, the Wolfpack has been on a tear. Claremont has rolled off four straight league wins to set up a first-place showdown with Pomona at 8 p.m. Friday in Claremont.
Pomona also is 4-0 in league play and 11-3 overall, and the Red Devils are favored to win the league title. With its starting front line of 6-9 center Marcellus Lee, 6-8 forward Ron Draper and 6-7 forward Lamont Carruthers, it is difficult for most teams to match up with the Red Devils. Draper, who averages 21 points a game, is Pomona's scoring leader.
Claremont does not have great overall size but the Wolfpack does have 6-8 junior center Dan McGwire, an outstanding athlete who starred at quarterback for the football team. Three other key players for Claremont were also standouts on the football squad: forwards Ronnie Brown (6-0) and Lloyd Bailey (6-2) and guard Travis Watkins (6-0).