In recent years this match-up has decided the league title in basketball as well as football. As they open Marine League play, Carson appears to be well ahead of the Pilots but the rivalry may make it a closer game. The Colts have the league's best player in center/forward Anthony January, a solid back court featuring Issy Washington and John Howell, and a deep bench. Banning has more height with 6-7 David Lee and 6-8 Marcus Slater up front but the Pilots have played well only in short bursts. Marshall (Zap) Lineberger has been their biggest offensive threat.
4 p.m. Friday at Banning.
Gardena vs. San Pedro
The other Marine League opener matches two teams with title hopes, both of which have been absent from the race for several years--San Pedro because the Pirates dropped to 3-A and Gardena because the Mohicans had a drop in talent. Both are back and competitive. Gardena features guard James Sawyer, most valuable player as Gardena won the Banning Invitational during Christmas vacation. San Pedro, which won three 3-A league titles, can hold its own with most 4-A teams thanks to the presence of forward Zlatko Josic , junior center Mike Sestich and sharpshooting guard Damon Whitsitt.
4 p.m. Friday at San Pedro.
Miraleste vs. Morningside
The Side has struggled unexpectedly to a .500 preconference record but still appears to be the class of the Pioneer League. It is doubtful that anyone in the league can challenge the Monarchs, who boast 6-9 center Elden Campbell and 6-5 forwards Leon Covington and Marcus Psalms to go with junior guard Taron Wiley. If Miraleste can control the pace the Marauders may provide some competition. Rob Klein has been the team standout so far.
7:30 p.m. Friday at Morningside.
St. Bernard vs. St. Monica
The best team in the Camino Real League, St. Bernard, takes on the league's most ballyhooed player, St. Monica's Earl Duncan. The St. Monica guard will get his points but his team's weaknesses up front will probably be exploited by St. Bernard's David Whitmore & Co. If Joe Hudson and Kirk Howling hit from outside, St. Monica could be in trouble because the high-jumping Whitmore will start working inside the zone. When Duncan--a flashy guard who has signed with Syracuse--is off, junior Jason Matthews picks up the slack.
7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Bernard.
South Torrance vs. Palos Verdes
These two teams figure to be in the playoff hunt behind Santa Monica in the Bay League. Palos Verdes won when they met a month ago in the Pacific Shores Tournament. Palos Verdes appears to have molded into a solid unit with a good-shooting team topped by Jeff Pelton, who led the Sea Kings to the finals of the Torrance Christmas Tournament. South has John Cassinelli inside and Chris Jeffrey outside but has been inconsistent. On a good night the Spartans will give most Bay League teams a tough game.
7:30 p.m. Friday at Palos Verdes.
Westchester vs. Fremont
The teams that figure to give Crenshaw the most trouble in the Central League face off after both compiling excellent pre-league records. Westchester won the Torrance Christmas Tournament and has one of the South Bay's top three players in forward Michael Courtney, the Torrance Tourney MVP. The Comets also have a solid though smallish team with a three-guard offense and 6-2 George Copeland up front with the 6-5 Courtney. Jemal Ross, 6-6, comes off the bench along with exciting freshman point guard Sam Crawford. Fremont got off to a 7-2 start.
4 p.m. Friday at Westchester.