Capistrano Valley. 17-10, 6-4 in 1996-97. Coach: Brian Mulligan (third year, 33-19). Two starters, 6-9 center Josh Garrett (7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds) and 6-2 junior guard/forward Mike Stowell (7.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) return. Stowell is expected to take over point guard responsibilities. Junior guard Jermaine McDaniel is back, as is senior forward Matt Dalton. Top newcomers include senior forwards Ryan Badrtalei and Omar Sosa, sophomore forward Lucas Pace and junior forward Tom Pincott.
Dana Hills. 16-13, 4-6 in 1996-97. Coach: Mark Thornton (second year, 16-13). Thornton predicts the Dolphins will be much improved. Four players return, including starters Larry Page (6-3 senior forward), Todd Pittman (6-3 senior guard) and Johnny Shields (5-10 junior point guard). Tim McKee, a 6-6 senior forward who was injured most of last season, could be among the county scoring leaders, Thornton said. Junior newcomers include Tom Gallups, Butch Kaufman, Darvell Meyers, Brett Nowell and Jeremy Walker, whose JV team finished second in league last season. Kaufman is 6-6 and brings much needed height to the lineup.
Mater Dei. 32-3, 10-0 in 1996-97. Coach: Gary McKnight (16th year, 454-35). Is this the season the six-time defending Southern Section divisional champions end their streak? McKnight remains upbeat despite losing five starters and returning only two reserves from last year's section Division I-A champion. "We'll be OK by the time the season ends," he said. Returning are 6-6 junior forward Mike Bayer and 6-2 sophomore guard Steve Scoggin. Top newcomers include 6-7 freshman Eric Soderberg, 6-2 sophomore Christian McGuigan, 6-6 sophomore Ryan Stacey, 6-2 junior Derek Mansell, 6-0 senior David Rivera and 6-4 senior Tom Welch.
Mission Viejo. 18-11, 5-5 in 1996-97. Coach: Jeff Cunningham (first year). With no returning starters, Cunningham is calling on four players from the lower ranks and sixth-man Jerry Bolton, a 6-4 senior forward, to lead the way. Senior Jake Fitch, a 5-10 guard and the quarterback on the football team, is expected to play after sitting out last season. Six-foot junior guard Joe Reid, 6-1 senior guard/forward Jon Sanchez and 5-11 junior guard Kyle Ulrich should play major roles in a running offense.
San Clemente. 17-9, 4-6 in 1996-97. Coach: Brad Davis (first year). Davis, 31, a two-year assistant, replaces Ed Coyle, now at Temecula Chaparral. Semaj Johnson, a 6-3 senior forward, is one of three starters back. There's 6-4 center Joe Tatala (nine points, six rebounds) and 6-foot guard Oscar Montecinos (11 points, seven assists). They're joined by seniors Darvan Cosby, a 6-1 forward, Tim Dileo, a 6-2 forward, Nick Schaefer, a 6-2 forward and Chris Singh, a 6-6 forward/center. Top newcomers include Brian Goad, a 5-11 senior guard, Dan Montecinos, a 6-foot junior guard, Mitch Pierce, a 6-3 junior forward, Mark Popovich, a 6-2 senior guard/forward, Ben Straley, a 5-8 junior guard and Mike Yovanovich, a 6-2 forward/center.
Trabuco Hills. 8-18, 1-9 in 1996-97. Coach: Rainer Wulf (11th year, 170-109). Two starting guards, 6-0 junior Brandon Heaney and 6-4 senior Ryan Webster (13.4 points), are back, as are three 6-5 post players from last season. They are sophomore Evan Fields and seniors Scott Adams and Jason Kimble. Top newcomers include four transfers: 6-4 junior Brandon Martin (Houston), 6-4 sophomore Brennon Martin (Houston), 6-5 junior Justin Junge (Pennsylvania) and 6-0 junior Brendan Casey (Santa Margarita). Chris Baker, a 6-1 junior, is up from the junior varsity.