The midpoint in boys high school basketball league play has arrived, providing coaches and players with the opportunity to think about either staying hot, getting hot or waiting until next year.
The Glendale-area has five teams contending for league titles and seven others still trying to win some confidence.
The second half of Pacific League play gets under way tonight with Crescenta Valley playing host to Glendale at 7:30 in a game that could decide the league championship. Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Muir are all 4-1 and tied for first place.
"I still can't convince myself that we can win the championship," Crescenta Valley Coach John Goffredo said. "Realistically, I don't think that's going to happen unless this Fantasy Island thing continues."
Crescenta Valley (13-6) stunned Glendale, 51-49, in the league opener and has been carried by the momentum of that win ever since. The Falcons' only loss was to defending league and Southern Section 4-A champion Muir.
No one has been hotter than senior guard Barrie Eget, who is averaging 30 points a game in league play. Last week, Eget scored 40 points in the Falcons' 71-62 win over Pasadena and 47 points in the team's 75-61 victory over Arcadia. He also had a perfect 21 of 21 from the free-throw line against Arcadia.
Glendale (16-2) has not lost since it's first game against Crescenta Valley. The Dynamiters have four starters averaging more than 10 points a game.
"We're still trying to recover from losing that first game," Glendale Coach Steve Keith said. "That was a great effort by CV, but I thought our kids played very lackadaisically. I don't think we were in tune mentally. That won't be a problem this time."
While Glendale and Crescenta Valley battle for supremacy as the best Southern Section team in the area, Eagle Rock--12-4 overall and 5-0 in the Northern League--is without question the area's premier City Section team.
Senior forward John Epps is averaging 23 points and nine rebounds a game for the Eagles, who open the second round of league Friday at Belmont. Senior guards Jerry Lew and Emanuael Washington are also playing well.
"This team is as good as the Eagle Rock team that won the league in 1983," Eagle Rock Coach Bill Whiting said. "Things are going pretty much as I expected."
The surprise team of the area is La Canada, which finished 13-10 overall but just 3-7 in the Rio Hondo League last season. Before this season, league coaches picked La Canada to finish either fourth or fifth. But at the halfway point, the Spartans are 13-6 overall and 4-1 in league.
La Canada has won four straight games after suffering a league-opening loss to Blair (5-0), the team La Canada will start the second round against tonight at Blair.
"I figured we'd be fighting for third right now," La Canada Coach Tom Hofman said. "The key for us is that the kids are united and play well together. Last year, that wasn't the case at the varsity level."
It was at the junior varsity level, though, where Hofman coached the team to a 10-0 record and league championship.
The nucleus from that team has moved up to the varsity along with Hofman and is in contention for the Spartans' first league championship since 1982 and first playoff appearance in four years. Sophomore center Chad Givens is the team's leading scorer, averaging 15 points and nine rebounds a game. Senior forward Matt Moseley is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds a game.
Flintridge Prep, a perennial contender in the Prep League, is having another good season, just as Coach Alex Rivera predicted.
The Rebels are 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the league. Their only loss was a 65-60 defeat to unbeaten defending league champion Chadwick (5-0).
Flintridge Prep, which finished its first-round schedule Wednesday against Rio Hondo Prep, is led by senior center Burt Cooper, who is averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds a game. Junior guard Steve Swain is averaging 17 points and six assists.
"This team is reaching all of my expectations," Rivera said. "In terms of overall play and being in every game, this is by far the best team I've had in eight years. But we need to play smarter against Chadwick in the second round if we're going to win the championship."
League titles and winning seasons are just dreams or future possibilities for the remaining schools in the area.
Verdugo Hills Coach Hector Ornelas was optimistic that his team could improve upon last season's 4-15 overall record and 1-9 record in the East Valley League.
But Verdugo Hills is struggling again with an overall record of 6-8 and 1-4 in league--the only win coming against even lowlier Sylmar.
"We've really had problems handling pressure when teams press against us," said Ornelas, whose team opens the second round of league Friday at home against Grant. "We need to be more patient on offense and play well for the entire game--not just part of it. We still have a chance to knock off some of the teams going for playoff spots."