Boys' basketball: For once, there's competition in City Section
Usually, by this time, there's little intrigue when the league races start in City Section basketball. The top teams are known and picking the league champions is easy.
But as league play picks up full steam this week, there's much more competition for the top. Yes, the favorites will likely emerge victorious, but it won't be necessarily easy.
In the Western League, Fairfax (8-5), Westchester (9-4) and Palisades (7-8) are about to start playing each other, and no one really knows who's going to prevail. The games to watch are Jan. 25, Fairfax at Westchester, and Feb. 10, Westchester at Fairfax.
In the West Valley League, Taft (11-3) has started to make a jump since center Anthony January was declared eligible, but El Camino Real (9-5) and Cleveland (12-7) have shown they can be dangerous teams at times. Taft plays at El Camino Real on Wednesday and must watch out for a three-point barrage. Also, Birmingham could be a surprise contender for second place based on wins over Grant and Ribet.
In the Coliseum League, Crenshaw (11-4), led by Brandon Baker, played highly touted Etiwanda very tough on Saturday night before losing. The Cougars should battle it out with Dorsey for the title.
In the East Valley League, Grant (11-4) should have few problems winning the title but the Lancers have bigger aspirations, and a Saturday game against Taft in the Fairfax tournament will be important for playoff seeding purposes.
In the Eastern League, Garfield (14-3) is off to a terrific start, but Bell (6-4) and rival Roosevelt (8-7) are preparing to offer a challenge.
We'll see at the end if the league races really turn out to be competitive or if the favorites keep improving and put an end to the upset talk.
-- Eric Sondheimer