A pre-season preview of Glendale-area boys basketball listed Marshall High as a contender for a playoff spot in the Northern League.
That wasn't good enough for Barristers Coach Sandy Greentree.
"We're not going to be contending for a playoff berth," he said. "We're going after the league title."
In this case, the coach knew best.
Entering the week, Marshall had shown it was everything its coach had promised--and more.
Perfect in League
In their Northern League opener, the Barristers began their quest for a league title with a 93-38 rout of Franklin. They are 13-3 overall and 5-0 and in first place in the league.
During the pre-season, Marshall showed that it also might be the best team in the Glendale area.
Consider the evidence:
- An 85-66 victory over Crescenta Valley in the second round of the Hart tournament.
- Victories over St. Francis, Beverly Hills and Alemany.
- Impressive showings in losses. When Crenshaw, considered the best team in California, beat Marshall, 90-60, the Barristers converted just 19 of 39 free throws. The other losses came to once-defeated Simi Valley in the final of the Hart tournament and to Van Nuys.
In a wide-open City 3-A Division, Marshall is looking good. But Greentree isn't convinced.
No Dominant Team
"Five or six teams could win it," he said. "There has been a sort of shift in power in that there's no one team that is dominant, no one like a Fairfax (last season's champion now playing in 4-A)."
Individually, there may be no one like Marshall's Jerry Simon, whose performances have made him a contender for the area's player of the year, an award that Crescenta Valley's Harvey Mason had a virtual lock on before the season.
In the only head-to-head meeting between the two, Simon scored 38 points (25 in the first half) to go along with 14 assists as Marshall won by 19.
Mason finished with 40 points, but 18 came in the final quarter with the game no longer in doubt.
Simon is no one-man show. Marshall goes with a seven-man rotation and has quality guards in Erven Jaramilla and David Lopez.
Apparently the Barristers are also deep in coaching. Greentree was sidelined for the entire holiday break with pneumonia and didn't attend a practice or game.
In his absence, assistant coach Dan Liese, who played under Greentree, directed the team to a second-place finish at the Hart tournament.
Greentree returned in time for Marshall's league opener.
"I definitely feel the itch to get back," Greentree said before returning for the Franklin game. "But I didn't think the Christmas tournament was as important as league, so I wanted to take as much time off as possible to make sure I was ready for league."
Now the question is whether the Northern League is ready for Marshal.
Elsewhere in Glendale area boys basketball:
Crescenta Valley: The Falcons, with Mason turning in big numbers most nights, are 13-6. Mason, who had 53 points in a victory over La Canada, has shown few effects from an ankle injury that threatened to cut his season short.
La Canada: The Spartans are 12-7 in Southern Section 2-A and are led by Walter Bakly.
In girls basketball, Flintridge Sacred Heart started slowly. That was expected, with most of the team getting a late start on basketball after leading the volleyball team to the Southern Section Small Schools final.
The Tologs' are 10-4 on the season and are ranked 11th in Small Schools after being ranked first earlier in the season.
Coach Bill Sanchez wasn't sure if the toprating was a blessing or an omen.
"It's hard for us as a team to perceive being No. 1 when we're not together yet," Sanchez said at the time. "Later in the season, if we get everyone to play the way they're supposed to, which sometimes never happens, then we can say, 'Yeah, maybe we're No. 1.' "
Veterans Coming Through
Sacred Heart, which reached the basketball final last season, is getting consistent play from returnees Sarah Banales (15 points, 15 rebounds a game) and Sandy Shaw (nine points, four assists a game).
The Tologs have yet to find a suitable replacement for point guard Debbie Shaw, and that has Sanchez concerned.
"We need someone to step in and and ask for the ball," he said. "But we have some young kids, and they're not used to that kind of pressure."
And as the search for a floor leader continues, ratings can wait a while as far as Sanchez is concerned.
"I'd just as soon wait until the end of the year when they make a difference," he said.
Elsewhere in girls basketball:
Hoover: The Tornadoes began the week at 9-4. Senior Silvia Antanaitis has been the top scorer.
Crescenta Valley: The Falcons, without their top three players from last season, were 8-9 to begin the week. Senior Lisa Erickson, the only returning starter, has become the leader.