Boys' basketball: Get ready for Mission League mania
It's going to be hard on Mission League coaches and players this season in boys' basketball. The league is so competitive that teams who don't show up ready to play will be headed for immediate defeat. And fans are going to have a hard time picking what game to miss.
Los Angeles Loyola, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, Encino Crespi, Mission Hills Alemany, West Hills Chaminade and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame all have enough top players to win on a given night. The only school that could be in trouble is La Canada St. Francis.
Notre Dame lost two sophomores who transferred, but two sophomores who stayed behind look ready to be standouts. Point guard Antwon Johnson had 18 points in the Knights' opening win over Newhall Hart, and another sophomore, 6-foot-4 Anthony Swan, is developing fast.
Harvard-Westlake has all kinds of injuries but lots of talent and wait until guard Nicky Firestone finally makes a return. That's when the Wolverines will have a real court leader.
Loyola routed Santa Monica in a scrimmage and makes its debut on Thursday in Northern California. Alemany is still waiting for its football players but holding its own. And Crespi's win on Monday against Orange Lutheran without its football players sends a warning message to beware of the Celts. Chaminade is ready to unleash 6-11 Gilles Dierickx for his senior year.
Mission League mania gets started in January. I need to book seats now for Harvard-Westlake-Loyola games on Jan 14 and Feb 4. But the way the teams figure to be playing, I might be watching Mission League games every week.
-- Eric Sondheimer