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Boys' basketball: Long Beach Poly has state title aspirations

October 15, 2012 |  2:14 pm

It's 8 a.m. on Monday, and the Long Beach Poly boys' basketball team is hard at work preparing for a run at a state Open Division championship.

Coach Sharrief Metoyer doesn't care about hype or expectations. He's not happy with the execution and effort of his players, so they're about to be stuck doing those dreaded line drills.

"If you don't practice like you want to win a state championship, it's not going to happen," he tells the players before blowing his whistle and sending them off running.

There's lot of talent at Poly, considered the preseason No. 1 team in Southern California. It starts with 6-foot-6 USC-bound Roschon Prince, who's one of the best all-around players in the Southland. Jordan Bell, a 6-7 senior, is a terrific shot-blocker who's expected to be improved on offense. Kameron Chatman, a 6-6 transfer from Oregon, didn't practice because of a groin injury. Kameron Murrell, a transfer from St. John Bosco, is pushing for playing time at guard.

Clearly, the coach and his players know what it takes to be successful. The question will be can they improve enough over the course of the season to be ready for the expected challenge from Mater Dei, Etiwanda, Loyola and St. John Bosco when the state playoffs begin, let alone win an improved Moore League and the Southern Section Division 1AA championship.

That's why practices in October have become important, and why I'm visiting schools this month to get a sense of where things stand.

On Wednesday, it's off to Alemany, the defending state Division III champs.

— Eric Sondheimer