A look at area schools that compete in leagues or independently with teams from outside the area:
CANTWELL--The Cardinals have abandoned the Camino Real League in favor of a free-lance schedule in hopes of winning more games. "We can play teams more on our level now," said Coach Mitch L'Angelle. Cantwell was 3-18 a year ago. Four players return: 5-9 guard Ray Walker, 6-2 forward Ramon Carrasco, 6-0 swingman Art Ramos and 5-8 guard Ron Jurado.
CENTENNIAL--The Apaches return all starters, including all-Southern Section choice Trent Allen, a 5-11 point guard who averaged 13 assists a game; Dwight Thomas, a 6-2 all-Pioneer League guard, and 6-6 Eric Lewis, an all-league forward. A top newcomer is 6-7 junior center Vince Manning, who averaged 13 points on the sophomore team. "This could be the best team Centennial has had in 20 years," Coach Willie Emanuelle said. The Apaches will be challenged by Morningside in the Pioneer League.
PIONEER BAPTIST--For a small school, Pioneer Baptist will have good height. Four players return--6-3 forward James Baker, 6-4 forward Craig Kay, 6-5 center Jay Schappert and 6-0 guard Fred Speck. The Patriots finished 16-3 last year and won the Express League with a 14-0 mark. "We look good on paper," said Coach Rick Sherman, who predicted that the league competition will again be weak.
SCHURR--Coach Tom Thompson said he hopes to guide the Spartans to a playoff berth despite having only two starters back. Schurr was 21-4 and won the Foothill League title. Returning players include Butch LeNoue, a 5-11 guard who averaged 12 points en route to an all-league berth. Paul Chavez, a 6-2 forward who averaged eight rebounds, also returns. Burbank and Hart are expected to be the teams to beat in the league.
ST. JOHN BOSCO--Gone is Steve Balstad, a Times all-Southeast player, but returning is 6-0 senior point guard Kelvin Means. But Means will get a slow start because he is a two-way starter on the Braves' football team, which is in the playoffs. Coach Jim Wilsak will have to mold inexperienced underclassmen. "This is the first time in 10 years that the Braves will not have a true shooter/scorer in the lineup," he said. The team has only three seniors, which could hamper its chances in the competitive Del Rey League, where St. Francis, Bosco Tech and Alemany are expected to contend for the title.
ST. PAUL--With Mater Dei good but not the power it has been, the Swordsmen have a chance to gain a second consecutive playoff berth. But look out for St. Bernard, which is expected to challenge for the Angelus League title. Two all-league first-team players return for St. Paul: 6-2 swingman Jeff Willis and 6-8 center Matt Willig. Both play football, and since the Swordsmen gained a playoff berth, that could slow the school's basketball progress. Three sophomores will probably start in the other spots, according to Coach Mike Dineen.
LOS ALAMITOS--The Griffins were chosen the pre-season favorites for first place by a vote of Empire League coaches. Ryan Blossey, a 6-2 guard who averaged 4.5 assists last year, is a key veteran. Coach Steve Brooks also has Tom Foster, a 6-1 guard; Bret Pagett, a 5-11 guard; Mark Parkinson, a 5-7 guard, and Moe Warner, a 6-5 center/forward. Warner, a senior, could develop into the league's best player after spending the off-season at all-star basketball camps.
LA HABRA--Coming off a 1-19 season, Coach George Fairchild feels he has "the best balanced team since I've been here" and says that a playoff berth is a realistic goal. Fairchild intends to continue its running style, despite having one of the Freeway League's tallest players in 6-5 center Allan Newman, one of three returning starters.