Either La Quinta High School or Bolsa Grande should win this season's Garden Grove League basketball championship, according to the league's coaches.
Rancho Alamitos, the defending champion, does have three returning starters, but lacks height.
"We went from the biggest team in league last season with (7-footer) Lee Velasquez to the smallest," said Terry Munson, who has replaced retired Pat Adams as Vaqueros coach. Rancho Alamitos was 9-1 in the league and 14-10 overall last season.
"La Quinta is the team to beat without a doubt," Munson said. "They have five starters back with both size and quickness, so they're sure looking good at this point.
Bolsa Grande and La Quinta are the consensus picks to challenge for the title, but the third playoff spot is open for Rancho Alamitos, Garden Grove and Santiago.
Here's a closer look at the Garden Grove League:
Top newcomers--Tony Beal (6-1 forward), Eric Bussey (6-2 center/forward), Matt Durlene (6-1 forward), Ray Martin (6-3 forward), Chris Tapia (6-0 guard).
Outlook--Coach Tony Lipold begins his ninth season bolstered by the fact that the Matadors have a bulk of their best players returning. Cao, who averaged 13 points and 6 assists, and Brown could be one of the league's better backcourt combinations. Small averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Top newcomer--Kia Ramezani (6-2 forward).
Outlook--The Argonauts finished fourth last season with a 5-5 record, one game shy of a playoff berth. They should be in the running for that third spot this season behind guards Lorenz and Contreras. Finch gives the Argonauts decent size at center. The most promising underclassman is Ramezani, who played well on the Argonauts' junior varsity last season.
Top newcomers--Jim McGee (5-9 guard), Lito Soifua (5-9 guard), J.J. Jenkins (6-3 forward).
Outlook--First-year Coach Famous J. Hooks will be looking to improve the Lobos, who were 3-7, 10-12 last season. The Lobos have only two returning starters, Altamirano and Hyatt. Los Amigos should be quick, but it seems doubtful that it will be able to run against La Quinta and Bolsa Grande.
Top newcomers--Jim Brannan (6-2 guard), Scott Campbell (6-3 guard).
Outlook--The Aztecs have five starters returning. They are tall, good shooters and quick. Also, the Aztecs have Campbell, a sophomore transfer from Denver who should see some playing time at shooting guard. Whitcomb is an all-league forward. Brannan, a junior who was the most valuable player on the junior varsity last season, will contribute as well. Jim Perry's five-year league coaching record is 40-10; look for that mark to get even better this season.
Top newcomers--Sean Cheatham (6-0 forward), Kham Nguyen (5-10 guard).
Outlook--Morales was the county's third leading scorer last season, averaging 19 points per game, but Rancho Alamitos does not have a player taller than 6-2.
Top newcomers--Ed Wisner (6-0 guard), Tom Alexander (6-3 forward), Rich Takaoka (5-10 guard), Leroy Fellows (5-9 guard), Andre Bostick (5-11 guard).
Outlook--Coach Curtis Johnson replaces Ed Coyle, who is at Edgewood High School in West Covina. Johnson, the junior varsity coach the last four seasons, said his team looks to be good defensively and could be the league's surprise. Johnson inherits two transfer students he expects to contribute in the backcourt--Fellows from Virginia and Bostick from Denver.