Ocean View: 26-5, 10-0 in 1997-98. Coach: Jim Harris (21st year, 365-170). There's plenty of talent and experience left for the Southern Section Division III-AA champions. Foremost is senior point guard Tony Dow, the 1997-98 division player of the year. He averaged 10 points and six assists. The other starter back is senior swingman Casey Lawson. The 6-3 senior swingman Rahshaw McAfee, senior forward/center Jason Silletto and sophomore swingman Torin Beeler are returning players vying for starting spots. Neal Smith, a 6-6 sophomore forward, adds height, and 6-2 juniors Jeremiah Bell and Ryan Westbrook and senior guards Wes Bacchus and Mike Antonson are battling for playing time.
Saddleback: 9-17, 4-6 in 1997-98. Coach: Tim Mesenhimer (fourth year, 22-55). The Roadrunners are mostly inexperienced, have good team speed, but not much height. Mesenhimer is concerned that the team's lack of varsity experience among players might take a toll. Terrell Foster, a 6-5 swingman who was all-league last year, is the only returning starter. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds. Also back are 6-4 senior forward Ben Hughes and 5-11 sophomore guard Ismael Isais. Mesenhimer will be looking for a handful of junior varsity players, including senior guards Kenny Duong, Jeff Grivas and Israel Tellez and sophomore guard Burke Allen, to step into the lineup.
Santa Ana: 9-16, 2-8 in 1997-98. Coach: Adrian Gomez (second year, 12-35). Gomez, a former Ocean View assistant, believes he has a team that can compete for a playoff spot. "We should be much improved," Gomez said. "Our goal is to compete for that third spot in the league." Three starters return: 6-1 forward Rene Cabrera (14.8 points), 6-foot forward Chris Galvan (14.6 points) and 5-10 guard Mike Mendoza. Guards Cesar Aceves and Rey Flores and 6-5 forward Luis Aduna join 6-4 newcomers Hector Candales and Darnell Graham.
Servite: 20-6, 8-2 in 1997-98. Coach: Scott Hamilton (seventh year, 95-58). There are plenty of guards, but Hamilton, who is eager to see the team in action at Wednesday's alumni game, is concerned that the Friars lack a dominant post player. "Our overall guard play is a strength, but our weakness may be size," he said. Two starters return. They are Bill Hamilton, a 6-2 guard, and Evan Friedl, a 6-3 guard. Ted Ranzan, a 6-2 forward, Matt Ponsford, 6-2 guard and 5-11 guard Andrew Moore also return.
Tustin: 20-8, 6-4 in 1997-98. Coach: Andy Ground (seventh year, 134-41). Ground says the Tillers have the potential to win the league title and compete for a Southern Section championship. "We're big, athletic and talented," he said. But Ground is concerned about team chemistry. "We are lacking good decision-making," he said. Starters back are 6-5 junior forward Chris Chatman, 6-5 senior Peter Johnston and two senior guards, 6-1 Ken Crabb and 6-2 Cameron Jackson. Seniors Cornell Harrell, a 6-3 forward, and Carlos Cordoba, a 5-10 guard, also return. Sophomore Dillon Hayes and junior Sante Gayle, a transfer from Stockton, both 6 feet 6, and 6-9 freshman center DeAngelo Collins add height.
Westminster: 0-23, 0-10 in 1997-98. Coach: Gary Dickson (fifth year, 37-80). With four starters returning, the Lions figure to stop a 25-game losing streak that dates to the final week of the 1996-97 season. Michael Le, Michael Nguyen, Ken Sala and Andy Walton, none over six feet tall, started last season. Raul Ramos, the tallest player at 6-2, and Hien Trinh should see playing time, along with Dinh Nguyen and Hugo Miranda.