Coach John Goffredo's teams have been to the playoffs 15 of the past 17 seasons. And with some experience, Crescenta Valley should improve on its third-place Pacific League finish and make the postseason playoffs again this season.
Crescenta Valley graduated three starters but will have seniors Brad Adam and Mike Harrison returning to the lineup. Adam, a 5-10 guard, averaged seven assists per game last season. Harrison, a 6-6 forward, averaged 6.4 points and should be one of the teams strongest rebounders. Joel Larson, a 6-3 senior forward, and Marc Schrobilgen, a 6-4 senior center, will add rebounding support. Junior Raffie Eskandarian, a 5-6 senior, will start at point guard.
Crescenta Valley will use a power offense and a man-to-man defense. Tuan Le, a 5-10 senior guard, and Anthony Burgess, a 6-3 senior forward, will be first off the bench for the Falcons.
Brothers Chad and Greg Givens should do the majority of scoring for La Canada. Chad, a 6-6 junior center, averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game last season, and Greg, a 6-4 senior forward, contributed 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Kevin Kasisis will start at point guard and Chris Jones, a 6-5 junior, will start at forward along with 6-4 Jeff Kucera. La Canada was 15-10 and second in the Rio Hondo League last season and made its first playoff appearance in five years.
"La Canada hasn't been known as a basketball school but we're trying to change that," Coach Tom Hofman said. Hofman said that summer league play has strengthened the team--and Chad Givens in particular. "He's much more fluid," Hofman said. "He's starting to move quicker and his shooting range has increased."
The Tornadoes finished 1-9 in the Pacific League last year and haven't won a Southern Section championship since 1941. But Coach Kirt Kohlmeier believes that this season's team is ready to regain respectability.
Joe Velasquez, a returning all-league player, and Vigen Serop are 5-10 starting guards. Joe Ferguson, an offensive lineman on the football team, is a 6-5, 245-pound center. Sean Regan, a 6-4 senior, will start at power forward, but four players are vying for the small forward position. Ramon Velasquez (6-3 sophomore), John Hillman (6-1 sophomore), Jack Dabbaghian (6-3 junior) and Alex Andrade (6-3 senior) are all in contention. Reserves include: Rodney Balbuena (5-11 senior guard), Gino Wang (6-3 junior forward) and Erik Messal (6-1 junior forward).
The Dynamiters could have the area's best player in Jeff Sofro, a 6-2 senior point guard. Sofro's natural position is guard, but Glendale had three senior guards last season and Sofro was moved to forward where he averaged 12 points per game.
Glendale graduated four of its top six players from last season's team, which finished second in the Pacific League and lost to Ventura in the first round of the playoffs. Returning is forward Dan Johnson, a 6-2 senior who averaged six points and eight rebounds per game.
Glendale will draw from last season's junior varsity, which won the Pacific League championship. Justin Lord, a 6-4 senior forward, Rod Cassidy, a 6-5 senior forward and 6-6 senior center Jeff Thoman will add power on the front line. Seniors Kevin Kowalski (6-1) and David Monarch (6-0) and junior Allen Faalnik (5-9) will come off the bench at guard. Glendale's reserves include Chad Blatchley (6-3 junior forward), Brad Roe (6-2 senior forward), Thuan Tran (5-3 junior point guard) and Allen Gutierrez (5-10 senior guard). Coach Bob Davidson is in his first season after eight years as an assistant.
The Rebels finished 17-7 and second in the Prep League last season but graduated several players. The top returning players for Coach Alex Rivera are seniors Kinden Mitchell and Steve Swayne. Mitchell, a 6-2 forward, averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per game last season. Swayne, a 6-1 guard, was the team's second leading scorer with a 19.1 average. Steve's brother, David Swayne, will see plenty of playing time at guard. The 6-2 sophomore plays good defense and has improved his shooting, Rivera said.
Other starters include Kevin Ropp, a 6-3 senior forward, and 6-4 senior center Chris Lewis. Flintridge Prep will use a motion offense and this season move to a man-to-man defense.
Coach John Jordan said his biggest challenge will be to overcome a lack of height and experience. His tallest player is 6-2 center Tom Fell. The senior is the team's most physical player. Junior Jeff Dyrek, a returning part-time starter, should be one of the team's leading scorers. The 6-0 guard averaged 4.6 points per game in limited playing time last season. The final varsity returner is Frank Lagattuta, a 6-0 senior guard. Rebounding will be a concern for St. Francis in the Del Rey League. The Golden Knights finished 4-17 last season and tied for fifth in the league.