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Boys' basketball: After first month, there are teams on the rise

December 31, 2011 |  8:34 am

The first month of the high school basketball season is over, and teams have begun to move up after getting players back from football.

Mission VIejo is 12-1 and won the Estancia tournament behind MVP Evan Zeller. The Diablos got back football players Austin Reuland and Max Redfield, and now they're the team to beat in the South Coast League.

L.A. Windward is 8-5 and suddenly healthy with the return of football players Charles Dawson and Jordan Wilson. Knocking off La Verne Lutheran, Archbishop Mitty and Taft means the Windward is ready for a tough Alpha League, where Pacific Hills (11-3) has come on strong and will get stronger on Jan. 21 when Namon Wright becomes eligible.

Torrance Bishop Montgomery is 12-2 after winning the Redondo tournament, with wins over Gardena Serra, Westchester and Taft this season. The Knights will be one of the top teams in the state next season, but they're already good and getting better. Junior Lamond Murray is a 6-6 standout, and 6-11 junior Stephon Jovanovic, a foreign-exchange student from Serbia who played JVs last season, is coming on strong. Those Serra-Bishop Montgomery games in league will be something else.

Orange Lutheran has the best offensive player in Southern California in Gabe York and seems ready to take on Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in the Trinity League.

And don't forget about Mission League teams Loyola, Crespi and Alemany. They've all had big wins and start facing each other on Wednesday.

Fairfax is scheduled to get back Brendyn Taylor on Jan. 11.

It's shaping up as a very good 2012 in high school basketball.

-- Eric Sondheimer