CIF-SS Large Enrollment Division
Baseline League 2001-02--(Nov. 1, 2001)
The Baseline League is considered one of the toughest leagues in all of CIF, particularly among the upper ends of the largest enrollment divisions. Most (if not all) of the schools will likely be in Division I for playoff purposes, and league competition is fierce. There have been many changes this year among personnel, with players moving, and new coaches at several schools. The biggest change this year will be with Upland, which hired former Fontana head coach John McNally, who takes over a program from Jeff Klein (who got the Chaffey College job) which was absolutely loaded last year. But Upland, the defending D-IAAA Section champs, graduated most of their players (9 seniors in all), so the league could be wide open again. Glendora won the Division I-AA Section title, and Claremont made it to the semifinals of the Division I-A Section playoffs (losing to Mater Dei, a game which will see a rematch of these two schools on Nov. 28 at Glendora's "Triple Crown Challenge), so it's hard to imagine a more successful league in CIF-SS. Here's what we know so far:
Update 11/21/01 from the LA Times Inland Valley edition: The Time published its own league preview of the Baseline League. Here's some of what LA Times reporterwrote about the league:
Four new coaches at this year's Baseline League coaches meeting, the last one with the current membership before wholesale league realignment kicks in next year, and nobody wanted to ask the obvious question.
Who's passing out the name tags?
"I went to the coaches' meeting earlier in the year and everyone was a new face," Claremont's first-year Coach Sal Magallanes said. "The guy from Walnut was the senior guy in the group and he hasn't been here that long." "I'm the senior coach. How about that?" said Walnut's Aaron Cornell, who is starting his third year.
Rim shots all around. How appropriate.
Cornell and Magallanes can be forgiven for their confusion, since Yancy Dodson was only "officially" running things at Glendora last year. But doing more than hovering in the foreground -- just like he had for the previous 13 years before the 2000-2001 season -- was Mike LeDuc.
When it comes to seniority, LeDuc is so senior that if you added up the Baseline League service of his five counterparts and doubled it, you'd still be a year short of LeDuc's tenure. He starts his 15th year at Glendora after the school board wisely allowed the vice principal to serve as a volunteer coach.
"I don't look at it that way. The Baseline League is still going to be as strong as ever," said LeDuc, whose Tartans will head to the Sierra League next year. "Being that it is the last year for us being in it, and we've been in it since 1979, it's a strange and sad thing."
As if the changes on the boys' side weren't enough, Baseline girls power Don Lugo welcomes a new coach in Tony Nixon as the Conquistadores try holding off a resurgent Chino team anxious to reclaim its former dominance.
When did the Baseline League become the Nomad League?
Nixon, Magallanes at Claremont, John McNally at Upland, Rick Cook at Chino and former Chino boys' Coach Eric Highstreet moving across town to Don Lugo ... there are hotels and pizza joints without this much turnover.
You'd think the elite basketball league that produced two CIF boys' champions last year in Upland (Division 1-AAA) and Glendora (1-AA) and features a loaded Claremont team that is the No. 1 boys' squad in the area would be more stable.
LeDuc calls Claremont one of the top 10 teams in the state.
He's partial. And he's right. In 6-foot-6 forward Shaddean Aaron, the Wolfpack have the Inland Valley's best player, one who became stronger and a better ball-handler under Magallanes' weightlifting program. Claremont added Ontario transfer Cameron Munoz for outside shooting, 6-foot-7 Perrin Johnson and his size 18 feet for shot blocking and finishing on the break, and 6-6 Kenny Penn for chemistry and all-around play.
Besides LeDuc and his cautious optimism, Glendora returns all-league guards Michael Mehanna and Larry Monroe and all-league center Spencer Foster, a trio that led the Tartans to a surprise CIF title last year by surging down the stretch.
As for Upland, the Highlanders surged all season, scooting to a 33-2 record. Of course, that was with eight players and a coach who are now scattered elsewhere around the West Coast. Led by 6-5 forward Tyejuan Hatter, only four lettermen return to a team that McNally said, "realizes there is a tradition now and they're left to carry it on."
This is the year for a big, improved Walnut team to start one, which Cornell will try doing with juniors Dreshawn Vance (6-7), Vivek Vinjamur (6-5), James Gollaz (6-6) and 6-4 returner Daniel Jones. On the other end of the height spectrum, Chino will be one of the smallest teams, depending on 6-4 Tjayi Malone as the only player north of 6-2.
Don Lugo would take that, because Highstreet said the Conquistadores are a work and identity in progress. Forward Roger Amaya and swingman Glen Powers are the closest things to go-to players on a team devoid of them.
In addition to the above, on Nov. 27, 2001, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune published some information about a few (but not all) of the Baseline League teams. In an article by local sportswriter Gabe Lacque, the writer offered the following: "Glendora, which won its fourth CIF-SS title last season, should be strong, as usual. Walnut's Mustangs are hoping for further improvement behind coach Aaron Cornell. "Claremont is going to go up a notch, and Walnut is coming up," Glendora coach Mike LeDuc said. "Sometimes, we've had really good teams in the past, but one of them didn't play well in the playoffs. This past year, we all were playing well in the playoffs." Glendora played well enough to win the Division I-AA title last season, an experience that will serve it well this year. "It was the opportunity to compete, to get six playoff games, that brings out that confidence," LeDuc said. "By winning, it doesn't hurt, but it gives you that experience that's so valuable. We were fortunate to get that experience."
|Baseline Team Rosters||Baseline League Schedules|
|Upland 10-0, 33-2 (1st)
(roster not available as of Nov. 1, 2001)--New coach and
virtually all new players. Upland graduated every player from last year's team with
even the slightest varsity experience with the exception of Tye-Juan Hatter 6'-6' Sr. F,
and two other guys who will see significant time: Todd Martin 6'-7" Jr. SF and
Update 11/21/01 from the LA Times:
Coach: John McNally (first
year at Upland, seventh year overall)
Coach: John McNally
N-28/D-1@ Clovis West
22-7 (2nd tie) "Wolfpack"
Patton 6'-0" Sr. F
Claremont returns All-CIF first team, 6'6" SF Shaddean Aaron, a player with D-1 shooting range who has been working on weights and ballhandling in the off season. Adding to this years roster is transfer 1st team All-CIF Cameron Munoz, a terrific shooter. Newcomers are Kenny Penn, who actually returns to Claremont after spending a year in Las Vegas. Perrin Johnson and Jonathan Moore are also newcomers. Returners Shane OConner and Charles Oliver add strength and experience, while Ramar Green adds speed and quickness. Tyler Hauck and junior guard Earl Wilson will help first year head coach Sal Magallanes get off to a good start in the frontcourt. Magallanes coached for 15 years at LA Garfield, Bishop Amat, Damien, and as an assistant at Claremont for two years under Mike Bateman. This summer Claremont played Westchester, Villa Park, Woodbridge, Artesia, Long Beach Poly, Canyon Springs, Mayfair and others and is getting prepared for a tough season ahead against league rival Glendora and the rest of the Baseline League.
Update 11/21/01: Here's what the LA Times had to say in their Baseline preview about Claremont:
"Outlook: It must be nice to be Magallanes, who took over for his promoted boss Mike Bateman just in time to win the high school basketball lottery. Aaron is the area's best player, Ontario transfer Munoz is one of the best shooters and Johnson and Moore are two of the most athletic. Magallanes took those parts, added an off-season of weight training, emphasized defense and ball-handling for some of his big men and came up with the undisputed Inland Valley No. 1 team. Last year, Claremont was the only Baseline League playoff team not to win a CIF title. The Wolfpack are expected to remedy that oversight this year."
Coach: Sal Magallanes
N 27 @ Montclair
28 @ Mater Dei
D 03 @ Chaffey
4-10 @ San Dimas Tourn
26-30 @ Brea Olinda Tourn
J 05 @ *Glendora (APU)
11 *Don Lugo
15 @ *Upland
18 @ *Walnut
30 @ *Chino
F 01 @ *Don Lugo
|Glendora--7-3, 20-6 (2nd
Sean Martin 6'1 Jr. F
The Tartans are defending CIF section champions, and even Sal Magallanes, the new first year coach at Claremont tells us that the league title "runs through Glendora" and literally, that's true, because with Upland a complete unknown, Glendora has got to be one of the favorites. Larry Monroe and Michael Mehanna make up a great backcourt combination and Spencer Foster helps fill the wing and the frontcourt, but whether they'll have enough firepower to hold off a very tough Claremont team, remains to be seen.
Glendora returns 3 starters from last years CIF-SS
1AA Championship team. Gone are Kyle Bechler and Lauren Smith, but Spencer Foster, Mike
Mehanna and Larry Monroe should provide plenty of firepower. Speedy Justin Onaka steps up
to a starting role and brings explosiveness to the one spot. Marcus Bryan, Richard
Patapoff and Davon Roberts will see significant playing time in the middle.
The LA Times published their Baseline Preview,and this is what they had about Glendora:
Coach: Mike LeDuc (15th year
at Glendora, 22nd year overall)
Update 11/27/01: The San Gabriel Valley Tribune published its preview of Glendora. Here's wht they had to say:
Coach: Mike LeDuc
N 28 @ Quartz Hill Tourn
|Chino--3-7, 8-18 (4th)
We don't have any roster information available at this time (Nov. 1). Chino didn't make the playoffs, and because they didn't we have no media sheet from last season. At leasst we know where and when they'll be playing: At right is the official CIF schedule for Chino's 2001-2002 season.
Update 11/21/01 from the LA Times:
Coach: Rick Cook (first year
at Chino, 23rd year overall)
Coach: Rick Cook
N 30 @ Montclair
Because Don Lugo didn't
qualify for the playoffs last season, we didn't have any info on them when we first posted
this preview. But thanks to the LA Times, which printed it's Baseline Preview on
11/21/01, we now have some info:
Coach: Eric Highstreet
Roster for 2001-2002:
Michael Lee 6'-0" Jr. PG
Head Coach Aaron Cornell
Walnuts Record last year was 6-19 which was an improvement from the 2-22 record the previous year and things are looking up for the Mustangs this year. Head Coach Aaron Cornell finally has the size and speed this year to compete in the Baseline League which is considered one of the toughest leagues in all CIF, and not a moment too soon, because Walnut will be leaving the Baseline League after this season. They will be led by returning all-league center Daniel Jones who has worked on his quickness and speed an should give Glendora's Spencer Foster some trouble this year. Dreshawn Vance and Vivek Vinjamur will give the Mustangs some additional strength and height up front. In the backcourt theyll have one of the better shooters in the SGV in 61 sophmore SG Ricky Fischer and at the point 511 junior Michael Lee who is a tough defender. Walnut hasnt been to the CIF playofffs in 8 years but this year they should have as good a chance as they've had ever. This summer the team had a respectable 15-7 record and in the Sept.28-30 Empire Slam Tournament at AB Miller tied for first in their pool, losing only to Etiwanda but beating San Bernardino and Perris High. If Walnut can stay injury free they should have their best season in many years.
We got a note from Coach Aaron Cornell, and he had this to say about his team:
"We are expecting another year of growth and a welcome exit of the Baseline League. Returning all-conference player Daniel Jones will be the player we look to lead us in virtually all aspects of the game. Ricky Fischer, Vivek Vinjamur, and Dreshawn Vance are new comers who should help us compete in the always tough Baseline League. The goal of the team is to improve on the previous year and to minimize mistakes made in previous games. We want to compete in the league and find a way to make our first appearence in the CIF playoffs for the first time in 6 years. Our team is dominated by underclassmen who will be asked to carry a large load for the first time at the highest level of competition. We are building for the future but we have to accelerate the growth rate. We will play as hard as we can and successfully conqueor each task, one at a time."
Hey, it's hard to ask for more than that. Good luck this season.
More from the LA Times, 11/21/01:
Coach: Aaron Cornell (third
year at Walnut, third year overall)
And still more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune which published selected team previews, among them Walnut:
Coach: Aaron Cornell
N 20 Wilson
The Times also had some news about an event which doesn't appear on anyone's schedule below (except Glendora's), which is going to be known as the Basline "Super Saturday" a series of six league-opener games for all the boys and girls teams in the league. The event will take place January 5, 2002 at Azusa Pacific's brand new arena facility, one of the best in the region. According to Times' writer Lance Pugmire, "Baseline League Super Saturday, a six-game blitz of boys' and girls' basketball to be played Jan. 5 at Azusa Pacific University, is a brilliant idea. The league's six schools (Chino, Claremont, Don Lugo, Glendora, Upland and Walnut) will play their league openers that day beginning at 10 a.m. The premier game of Super Saturday is expected to be Claremont's boys' team versus Glendora in the nightcap. In the Inland Valley Times' preseason top 10 boys' poll released today, the Wolfpack are No. 1 and Glendora is No. 2. Unfortunately, the best game has created the biggest headache." Pugmire, who regularly covers the Inland Valley, and the Baseline League in particular, for the Times, had some great information on the event:
Glendora Coach Mike LeDuc, who joined former Don Lugo boys' coach Steve Hebert in making the event their brainchild, isn't pleased his Tartans drew the late game and were assigned to play the designated home game away from the comfortable confines of Glendora's gymnasium.
"They have a big home-court advantage; it's huge," said former Claremont boys' basketball coach Mike Bateman. "The rims at that gym are different. They're all bouncy. Glendora draws a lot of fans. That team has won a lot of championships and you see the banners walking into the gym. It's a tough place to play."
LeDuc said he was under the impression Super Saturday would be a preview event, with league powers Glendora, Claremont and Upland playing Don Lugo, Chino and Walnut. Instead, the magnitude of the day's results has increased tremendously.
"I feel crummy about that," LeDuc said. "This was my idea, but somewhere along the line my plan was lost."
LeDuc doesn't want to be painted as a whiner, though, and insists he's come to accept the situation. It still irks him, however, that he made it clear the Tartans needed to play a morning game and were instead dealt a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.
"We run city youth leagues at our gym every Saturday afternoon," LeDuc said. "Our players coach, referee and scorekeep all the games. When we play the [one-day] showcase games, we always play the morning game, so our kids can be back in time for the youth leagues."
Upland Athletic Director Jim Drake said he served as moderator of the Sept. 19 meeting of Baseline League ADs, in which they randomly drew game-time assignments out of a hat.
"Everyone knew who they would play from the start," said Drake, who was joined at the meeting by his Glendora counterpart, Paul Lopez, among others. "And everything was fine at the meeting."
Baseline League principals approved the schedule Oct. 11 by a 5-1 vote, with Glendora's Dave Walesiak dissenting. Walnut, which will play Upland, and Don Lugo, which meets Chino, will split the gate revenue with Glendora, although concession profits will be kept by Azusa Pacific.
While Drake and LeDuc agree that the concept of the series should be continued, even though Upland and Glendora will be in different leagues next year, the inability to strike a compromise speaks to the rivalries that have been fostered on the court.
Former Upland coach Jeff Klein and LeDuc were never chummy. Claremont athletic officials were perturbed last season when Glendora refused to agree to delay the league-opening game between the boys' teams when it was scheduled at Claremont during Christmas break. "We won the game, so I guess we won that in the long run," Bateman said. Certainly, LeDuc would like nothing better than to say the same thing in this instance.
The LA Times also published an interesting piece as part of it's prep preview of the Baseline League on the subject of transfers and the ways in which California's "Open-Enrollment" law has changed the way players (and parents) are viewing their athletic choices these days:
The potential winning union between Cameron Munoz and Claremont High is an example of how the open enrollment policy adopted by CIF has changed high school athletics.
CLAREMONT -- He has one of the smoothest outside jumpers around and that's exactly where it has been. Around.
It's been taken to three high schools, honed under four coaches and perfected in numerous gyms.
Now in his senior season, Cameron Munoz will add one more jersey to his collection. He'll finish his high school career at Claremont, the top-ranked boys' team in the Inland Valley. Yes, Cameron Munoz is a transfer. He's one of three that should contribute heavily to the Wolfpack. And, no, Munoz hasn't done anything wrong.
Transfers have become as common as Los Angeles traffic.
Munoz's Ontario High team of 2000-2001 not only had the left-hander come in from Chino, but also added David Stepney from Chaffey High.
Fontana High has lost four standouts in the past two years, with Wesley Washington and Travante Nelson going to private-school power Mater Dei prior to the 2000-2001 season and Cory McJimson and Aaron Gipson leaving for Eisenhower and Etiwanda, respectively.
It's not just basketball either. Baseball standout Jordan Swaydan left Damien High after the 2000-2001 school year to play on Bishop Amat's nationally-ranked team and Alta Loma High's football team was forced to forfeit five nonleague victories when one of its transfers was ruled academically ineligible.
Players are changing schools with ease thanks to the CIF Southern Section's open enrollment policy, a bylaw that has altered the landscape of high school athletics.
While many who transfer insist they rely on the policy for self-improvement, there are burdens attached to moving. Parents of transfers are sometimes subjected to speculation they've shopped their children to the most athletically successful schools with less regard for academics. Returning players unseated by transfers could feel betrayed by their school officials for depriving them of playing time. Teams that take on too many transfers can be accused of adopting a win-at-all-costs mentality.
For better or worse, the open enrollment policy is how Munoz found his way to Claremont.
The Southern Section allows high school athletes one transfer during their high school career after his or her initial enrollment as a ninth-grader in a four-year high school or a 10th-grader in a three-year high school.
According to the Southern Section's blue book, the transfer cannot be the result of a disciplinary action, nor can the receiving school give preference to a student based on his or her athletic performance.
Munoz first transferred from Chino High, where he played varsity basketball as both a freshman and sophomore. He arrived at Ontario prior to his junior year, a move that was approved by a valid change of residence. After the completion of last season, Munoz began contemplating using the open-enrollment rule to his advantage.
"Looking at the big picture, there were a lot of uncertainties at Ontario," Munoz said.
Jaguars Coach Jerry DeFabiis initially accepted an offer to replace outgoing Claremont coach Mike Bateman, but backed away from the deal after realizing he was still short of credits required for his teaching credential.
Ontario also lost most of its major contributors from last season's squad, which advanced to the CIF Division 1-AAA semifinals before losing to eventual champion Upland. Point guard Andrew Alhadeff now plays at the University of Redlands, while leading scorer Marlon Mitchell and forward Brandon Kinney are at Cal State Bakersfield.
"[DeFabiis] played kind of a big role in it," Munoz said. "But I always thought about it before. [Ontario] had a lot of seniors and that always entered my mind. With [DeFabiis possibly taking the Claremont job], that was really the backbreaker to the whole thing."
So instead of playing for what could be a rebuilding Ontario team, where Munoz would have been the standout player capable of averaging 25 points, he finds himself in a situation similar to last season. He's part of a balanced squad with CIF title hopes.
The question is how the move will affect Munoz's hopes of earning a college scholarship. He said he hopes playing on a team that should receive significant attention from recruiters. Claremont has a date with Mater Dei next week and the Wolfpack roster includes other college hopefuls, such as exceptional forward Shaddean Aaron.
""You don't have to average 30 a game to get your Division 1 college scholarship, but you have to control the game, get your teammates involved, and when you have the open shot, take it," Munoz said.
But will there be enough balls to go around to Munoz, Aaron, transfers Perrin Johnson and Kenny Penn, as well as point guard Ramar Green?
"There's been some controversy about that, but I think we really do," new Claremont Coach Sal Magallanes said. "The offense that we're running is a motion offense and the kind of play that I'm teaching involves everybody to get touches with the ball."
The Wolfpack's talent level is on par with that of last season's Upland team. The difference is the Upland players spent four years together, while Claremont's core group will be playing together for the first time as seniors.
Adjusting to new teammates hasn't been a problem in the past for Munoz. His move to Ontario was almost as smooth as his jump shot because he grew up playing junior basketball with Alhadeff, Mitchell and Kinney among others. But with Penn returning from Las Vegas to Claremont, where he was raised, and Johnson coming to the school from Riverside, the Wolfpack still have a chemistry test to pass.
Munoz said he's had no problems with relocating, academically or socially. Self-described as an outgoing person, Munoz had the advantage of summer league to adapt to his new teammates and Magallanes said there has been little hesitation among Wolfpack returning players about accepting Munoz and the other transfers.
"That's one thing that's been great about these guys," Magallanes said. "The [junior varsity players] coming up and the returning varsity guys have always been welcoming of those guys. They've had the opportunity to bond with each other because we've played a lot of games in the summer.
"These guys have been through a lot together."
Of course, they'll be going through a lot more this season, a season that should determine whether Munoz made all the right moves.
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