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Foothill League's Boys Basketball Update
February, 2013 - Issue #100
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Every year, Foothill League boys basketball is one of the most competitive sports in the SCV. Over the last six seasons, every single school - with the exception of Saugus - has won a league championship. Sure, there are title favorites this year, West Ranch and Hart, but this is shaping up to again be a highly-competitive league. Here's the lowdown on the teams.

West Ranch
Last season, the Wildcats shared the league title with Canyon. This season, West Ranch is expecting more. Senior center Ako Kaluna is one of the most destructive forces in SCV hoops history. After all, he shattered a backboard in a preleague game against Alemany. Kaluna could put up 20 points and grab more than 10 rebounds on a bad night. Together with shooting guard and fellow senior Kevin Harris, they make for one of the best one-two punches we've seen in quite a while. West Ranch will also rely on hard-working point guard Ryan Beddeo to shoulder the load. "Being ranked No. 2 in the division and No. 10 in the state, all that's good. It's a good accomplishment for us. But our expectations are actually higher than that," says Head Coach Shant Bicakci. "We want to win league and go as far as we can in the playoffs. We want to keep getting better every day."

Hart
If there's one word to describe Hart, it's deep. Junior guard Lewis Stallworth and sophomore guard Myles Franklin are the two standouts and both can score in bunches. The thing is, Hart has other guys who can step in if those two have an off night. Senior forward Nico Cruz and junior forward Davis Koppenhaver are two of those guys and both give the Indians size. The key for the Indians isn't offense, though. "The sky's the limit," says head coach Tom Kelly. "I think we can go as far as our defense will take us."

Canyon
The Cowboys don't have size, they lost their top two players to graduation and they don't have their longtime head coach Chad Phillips, who retired after last season. The defending Foothill champs did play very well in the preleague season, though, meaning they could be a threat in 2013. Junior guard Marc Cabrera has been steady and sophomore Ben Taufahema has been a find. Junior power forward Dean Hendrix-Davis provides Canyon scoring, rebounding and toughness. He was in a car accident in mid-December, though. If Canyon doesn't have him, it will lose a presence. And that's something the Cowboys will need. "We have several keys, but for us, being undersized, the key is rebounding," says Head Coach Sean DeLong. "There's an old saying: Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships. For us, we have to rebound."

Saugus
Saugus has some size in the frontcourt with Amir Mirtabatabaie and Jacob Dawe, and quickness in the backcourt with a multitude of guards. And it has a veteran in senior Chris Lockwood. That makeup, as well as what head coach Derek Ballard says is a better shooting team than last year, makes Saugus a contender. "We expect to compete with everybody, and there's no reason why we won't," Ballard says. "We're a little young on experience, but we play really hard. When you play as hard as we do, there's a lot of good things we can do."

Valencia
Valencia has been hit hard by graduation the last two years. But that has created opportunity for this group and it has gelled quickly. The Vikings quietly were winning games in the preleague season, relying on players like junior guard Jaleel Howard, senior forward Garret Mike, senior center Kayode Wellington and senior guard Riley Honaker. The Vikings lack size, though. They will make that up with quickness and a larger emphasis on defense. "The guys work well together," says Head Coach Rocket Collins. "Chemistry's usually good, but the chemistry is really different this year. I have all types of guys playing out of position, but they all play hard."

Golden Valley
It will be challenging for the Grizzlies to win games in league, but new Head Coach Al Vanhook says his focus is on rebuilding the program. My expectations are to compete and play hard and build a foundation for years to come," he says. That begins with getting the kids acclimated with a new program from the lower levels up. Nonetheless, there are some players on varsity who will steer the ship this season. Senior guard James Chevious is a skilled veteran who will be counted on to help bring along some young talent like sophomore swingman Dominique Gully and junior center Jordan Watkins.
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