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Boys' basketball: It's time for league madness

January 1, 2012 |  9:03 am

Ever since the Southern Section switched to a playoff format where it doesn't really matter where you finish in league play, it has taken away from the importance of league competition.

But those leagues that are loaded with talent still have big-time games, particularly among the private schools, and it starts this week in the Mission, Trinity and Alpha leagues.

On Wednesday, unbeaten Los Angeles Loyola (11-0) is at Encino Crespi (13-1) in the Mission League. Alemany (11-2) is at Chaminade (10-3). Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (10-4) and Studio City Harvard-Westlake (8-4) also figure to be in the race.

The league is loaded with outstanding guards and outstanding coaches. Fans come out en masse to the big games, leading to home-court advantages. Loyola remains the team to beat.

In the Trinity League, Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-1), Orange Lutheran (10-2) and Bellflower St. John Bosco (9-2) are above everyone else. Orange Lutheran scored a rare victory over Mater Dei last season and returns the league's best player in Gabe York. St. John Bosco, which has first-year Coach Derrick Taylor, will be trying to inject itself into the title competition.

In the Alpha League, Los Angeles Windward (8-5) is the favorite, but the Wildcats know that Pacific Hills (11-3) and Brentwood (9-2) are capable of pulling off  upsets, with Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (10-5) and North Hollywood Campbell Hall (5-8) each having college-bound players.

-- Eric Sondheimer