How does Franklin Coach Chuck Donaghho feel about the return of most of the players from last season's 1-17 team?
Optimistic. And maybe rightly so.
"This is as good as a Franklin team can get talent-wise," Donaghho said. "We're looking for big things this year."
Because he was a member of the City Section 3-A Division champion football team, Ronnie Lopez, Franklin's tallest player, did not start playing until last week. Lopez, a 6-5 center, scored 24 points in his first appearance, and he will make a bigger impact as the season progresses, Donaghho said.
"We've been waiting for football season to end and to get Ronnie," Donaghho said. "Now that he's joined the team, we can start getting on with the season. This is the team that we'll go into league with."
Besides Lopez, the Panthers (5-4) will start 6-3 Mike Dunkel and 6-1 Sam Genie on the front line. But Donaghho is undecided on the two starting guard positions. Henry Tovar, Danny Yamada, Rodel Barcelona and Jay Respicio have rotated at guard.
"Rodel has good quickness and is a good outside shooter, but Danny is very consistent," Donaghho said. "Tovar has height and good shooting ability but lacks quickness. Jay is super quick but is short. And Danny is short but he doesn't make mistakes. He's cool under pressure."
So goes the dilemma.
Franklin's most pressing opponent, however, is last season's record, which included a 1-9 league mark.
"That sticks in their minds," Donaghho said. "All the kids would say that they have something to prove. They've paid their dues."
Joining hands: Carrie Meadows, the Glendale girls coach, seems to believe that too often people let egos stand in the way of progress. That is why Meadows has welcomed the addition of Roy Romero to the Glendale coaching staff.
Romero, the uncle of Glendale twins Christine and Angela Armendariz, has volunteered his time and has helped Meadows coach some of the technical aspects of the game, she said.
"He is a very skilled technician," Meadows said. "He has helped a lot with the fundamentals. I really respect that, when someone is willing to help out."
With Glendale's tallest starter being 5-8 center Fatima Jose, the Dynamiters will need quickness and an aggressive defense to stay competitive in the Pacific League.
"It's hard because we play in a league with big girls and we're so short," Meadows said. "But the program has been building and we're at the point where we're going to go into league and surprise some people."
Glendale (2-5) has been led this season by Lia Pattrosian, who is averaging 12 points a game, and Angela Armendariz, who is averaging 10.
Tough trip: Crescenta Valley boys Coach John Goffredo was less than enthusiastic about his team's 1-2 record in the Roosevelt tournament in Hawaii last week. And he would have been happier without the nine-hour flight delay on the first leg of the journey. But it was the 1,000-foot drop caused by an air pocket 10 minutes before landing in Hawaii that really flustered Goffredo.
The trip, which Goffredo said was not entirely devoted to basketball, improved after Crescenta Valley landed.
"We did a lot of sightseeing," he said. "The kids went snorkeling and went to luaus. But it was hard to concentrate on basketball and sightseeing."
The Falcons opened the tournament with a 76-49 loss to Riverdale of Tennessee (11-0). They then beat McKinley of Hawaii, 65-48, before losing to St. Paul of Los Angeles, 80-67. Brad Adam and Brian Cortez averaged 18 and 10 points a game, respectively, in the tournament.
Minor adjustment: After enduring a three-game losing streak, Crescenta Valley girls Coach Alan Eberhart has made a switch in the Falcon backcourt. Eberhart, whose team won its next two games, believes that moving freshman Berlyn Cosman to off-guard and senior Leilani Artis to the point takes some of the pressure off Cosman and adds quickness to the point position.
"Berlyn is doing very well with the pressure," Eberhart said. "But the pressure is going to get worse. We just need a little more quickness at point guard. We've played some teams that have hurt us there and we're going to play some teams that are going to kill us there."
Perennial powers Muir and Pasadena and a strong Hoover team are all Pacific League title contenders this season. Artis is averaging 12.6 points a game and Cosman is averaging seven. Crescenta Valley (4-3), which lacks height, has received solid rebounding performances from Carin Wagner and Lia Rittenhouse, who each average seven rebounds a game.
Red hot: Laura Redford, Franklin's All-City guard, is averaging 21 points a game this season, but Coach Christine Clark said that the senior's improved passing has been the most impressive part of her game.