The 1985-86 prep sports year may be over, but for many San Gabriel Valley teams the summer season gets into full swing with the start of the 19th annual L.A. Games on Saturday at sites throughout the Los Angeles area.
If tradition holds, the 12-sport festival--formerly called the Watts Summer Games--will go a long way toward determining the Southland powers of next season.
That certainly was the case last year, when Muir of Pasadena won the L.A. Games football title and went on to take the CIF Coastal Conference championship. The Mustangs also won the girls' basketball title en route to a second-place finish in the CIF 4-A Division.
Muir will once again be one of the top valley schools competing in this year's tournament, especially in football and boys' and girls' basketball.
The showcase sport of the games is boys' basketball, which will have 112 teams competing at nine sites.
In first-round games Saturday, Arcadia plays Fairfax at 9 a.m. at Hamilton High, Pasadena faces Pius X at 9 a.m. at El Camino College, Ganesha meets Reseda at 10 a.m. at Crenshaw High, Muir faces Newbury Park at 11 a.m. at Crenshaw, La Salle plays San Gorgonio at noon at Crenshaw, Bosco Tech faces Dorsey at noon at Dorsey High, Pomona takes on Monrovia at 1 p.m. at Jordan High, Damien meets Canyon (Saugus) at 1 p.m. at Carson, Rosemead plays Westlake at 1 p.m. at Fremont High and San Dimas goes against Cathedral at 1 p.m. at Banning High.
In addition, Bishop Amat meets L.A. Poly at Crenshaw and Garey plays Canoga Park at Jordan in a pair of second-round games at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Muir may be the top valley team, with four key players returning from last year's CIF 4-A Division championship squad. The Mustangs have outstanding size with 6-7 bookends Wayne Womack and Kirk Wagner on the front line and solid guards in 6-0 Derek Brown and 6-2 Keyjohnna Owens.
Ganesha, which lost to Wilson in the CIF 3-A Division finals last season, also looks strong. The Giants have one of the most imposing players in Southern California in 6-3, 250-pound forward Antonio Johnson and another top front-line player in 6-5 Shane Palmer.
Cross-town rival Pomona, which has reached the 3-A Division quarterfinals the last two years, also has two outstanding players in 6-6 point guard Derwin Collins and 6-6 forward Tyrone Greer. The Red Devils will be tested in its first-round match-up against Monrovia, which has four starters returning from last season.
Arcadia has one of the most difficult first-round assignments. The Apaches must face L.A. City power Fairfax, which is led by 6-8 All-American forward Sean Higgins and 6-6 forward J. D. Green.
Muir is also among the top valley teams competing in girls' basketball, with two starters returning from a team that finished second in the CIF 4-A Division with a 29-1 record last year.
The Mustangs, who won the L.A. Games title last year, are led by 6-3 center Tasha Bradley and 5-8 guard Angie Grant. Muir faces Palmdale in their tournament opener at 9 a.m. Saturday at El Camino College.
Other top valley teams in the 64-team tournament include Monrovia, which is led by 5-5 guard Lisa Crosskey, and Pasadena with 5-6 guard Rachonne Jones. Monrovia faces L.A. Washington at 1 p.m. and Pasadena meets San Marcos at 3 p.m. in first-round games Saturday at El Camino College.
In other opening games Saturday at El Camino, Rowland plays Thousand Oaks and West Covina meets Valencia at 10 a.m., Garey faces Carson at 11 a.m. and South Hills meets University (Irvine) and El Monte takes on San Dimas at 2 p.m.
Valley hopes also look strong in baseball, football and soccer.
Perennial powers Arcadia, Glendora, Gladstone and Bishop Amat are among the top baseball teams competing. Defending CIF 1-A Division champion Gladstone has a tough first-round game against Alemany at 9 a.m. Saturday at L.A. Valley College.
In other top first-round games Saturday, Arcadia meets Santa Paula at noon at Valley, Bishop Amat faces Chatsworth at 3 p.m. at Valley and Glendora takes on Roosevelt at 3 p.m. at El Camino College.
CIF Coastal Conference champion Muir heads a group of three Pasadena teams competing in seven-man football at West Torrance High. The Mustangs, expected to be among the top teams in the Southland again, meet L.A. Poly in their opener at 9 a.m. Saturday, Blair faces Beverly Hills at 2 p.m. and Marshall Fundamental takes on Granada Hills at 4 p.m.
Two other games will match San Gabriel against Etiwanda at 10 a.m. and San Marino against Palmdale at 2 p.m.
Among the top soccer teams competing are Damien and Bosco Tech in the boys' division and Arcadia in girls' play. Damien faces North Hollywood at 10 a.m. and Bosco Tech meets Marshall at 2 p.m. in first-round games Saturday at the Granada Hills Recreation Center. The Arcadia girls, who finished second in the CIF 3-A Division last year, open tournament play against Mira Costa at 10 a.m. Saturday at El Camino.
Top valley teams in water polo include Muir, which faces San Bernardino in its first-round game at 10 a.m. Saturday at El Camino, and Blair, which meets J. W. North at 3 p.m. Saturday at Redondo High.
Preliminary rounds in the L.A. Games tournaments are Saturday and Sunday and the final rounds are June 28 and 29 at El Camino.