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CIF-SS Small Enrollment Division Preview:
Del Rey League 2001-02--(Nov. 3, 2001)

DEL REY LEAGUE
Bishop Amat
Bishop Montgomery
Serra
St Bernard
St Paul

The Del Rey League has been among the most successful leagues, and we really had to think about whether to include this in the "large" schools profiles, because even though most of the schools in this league are at the III-A or lower (except for Bishop Amat, which was II-A last season), all the way down to V-AA which is where Gardena Serra has been for the past few seasons, it just seemed more appropriate to go with the enrollment rather than the level of hoops played.

You see, there's nothing small about the way these teams and players at these schools play the game.     This is big-time high school basketball.  Bishop Montgomery for example, is coming off two consecutive State Championships in Division III, and sent three players last year to the D-I level (Errick and Derrick Craven  to USC, and Devaughn Peace to UCI).  This season, the Knights will be led by junior returning starter Fred Washington, Brandon Peace at the point and Gavin Lee at the two.  The only thing they seem to be missing is a true post, but then that has never stopped BM before.    Bishop Amat made it to the quarterfinals of D-II-A playoffs last year, losing to Mayfair, and this season they have a new coach, Ray Lokar who is the president of SCIBCA.  The Lancers will feature Jonathan Haywood, a tremendously athletic guard who will sign at LMU in a couple of weeks.  Serra has Eugene Jeter,  a solid but undersized point, who is receiving solid attention from a number of D-I's (e.g., Montana, Wyoming, etc.), and Samir Hernandez who transferred from Compton Dominguez, and who attended the USA Basketball Developmental Festival in Colorado, which featured some of the top players in the country.  St. Bernard has not been explosive in recent years, but has continued to turn out teams and players who just "get it done" (remember, Brandon Granville, USC's starting point guard may have graduated from Westchester, but he played three years before that at St. Bernard).  Two years ago, the Vikings came from out of nowhere (or so it seemed) and made it to the State Finals in Division IV.  And St. Paul, mostly known as a football school, will have its work cut out for it now that Dontay Holloway has transferred to Hacienda Heights Wilson.

What follows is what we know about the teams thus far this season, which means we're looking at old rosters and predicting who will be returning and which younger players will be stepping up.  The schedules are accurate as far as we know, We encourage coaches to send us their official rosters (via e-mail) and any other information about their teams so we can update these previews.

Update 11/27/01:   The Long Beach Press Telegram's "Prep Sports" section (also a website) featured it's boys' basketball prep previews today and yesterday (11/26 & 11/27), and among the leagues and teams featured was a brief rundown by staff writers James Melroy and Ted Kian on the Del Rey League.  Here's the excerpt on the Del Rey League which can be found as part of the story in the link above:

"As has been the case the last few seasons, Bishop Montgomery is the early favorite to finish atop the league standings. St. Paul appeared to have enough talent to break through against the Knights, but the transfer of the Swordsmen's top player last season (Dontay Holloway) to H.H. Wilson stings. St. Paul will look to 5-8 junior guard Rudy Serna to pick up the slack, but he will need help from transfer Kevin Dyer (St. John Bosco) and forwards Ray Cugigas and James Samarin. Serra will find itself in the mix, thanks to 5-9 senior point guard Eugene Jeter and 6-7 senior transfer Samir Hernandez (Dominguez)."

Del Rey League Rosters Del Rey League Schedules
Bishop Montgomery--8-0, 22-2 (1st)   "Knights"

Nate Clarke 6'-0" So. G
Brandon Willimas 6'-0" Sr. G
Brandon Peace 6'-0" Jr. G
Ryan Howard 5'-6" So. G
Dexter Wallace 5'-8" Jr. G
Chad Glover 6'-5" Sr. F
Kyle Binns 6'-3" Sr. F
Fred Washington 6'-5" Jr. F
Gavin Lee 6'-3" Sr. F
Marquis Washington  5'-8" So. G

The Knights graduated 7 seniors, including four starters Errick & Derrick  Craven (USC), DeVaughan Peace (UCI), Leland Dodd,  and Kenny D'Oyen.  They will be young, but always well-coached.

Update 11/27/01:  The Torrance-based Daily Breeze featured a series of basketball team previews and news today, and among the stories, was a preview of Bishop Montgomery, written by Daily Breeze sportswriter Bob Holtzman .  Here are some excerpts (the original can be found at this link  and you can also reach the author by e-mail by simply clicking on his name):   

"Bishop Montgomery boys basketball coach Doug Mitchell isn't going to let up on his team this year. But no one would have blamed him if he did. After all, losing two-time Daily Breeze Player of the Year Errick Craven, his twin and equally-talented brother, Derrick, and fellow four-year varsity players, DeVaughn Peace (UC Irvine) and Kenny D'Oyen, could leave some coaches feeling quite lonely. Just not Mitchell. 'It was a good group and four-year guys are a rare thing,' Mitchell said. 'But I like this team. They are practicing well and it's a good group coming up.' After winning back-to-back CIF State Division III championships, Mitchell knows a third won't be easy, but isn't out of reach. Forward Fred Washington (6-foot-5, junior) returns to the starting lineup and could become another star for the Knights. Senior Brandon Peace should be impressive after seeing spot playing time a year ago. Senior Gavin Lee also saw significant minutes and now is starting. But whether these three score points or not, Mitchell knows all three can play defense. 'All three were in the rotation last year,' Mitchell said. 'They played minutes and gained experience at the highest level. They got to practice with (the seniors) last year. The experience was great for them and now they're ready to be leaders.'  Sophomores Ryan Howard and Nate Clark are expected to join the starting lineup. Mitchell said Jason Estrada, a transfer from Long Beach Jordan, should be an asset too. But size is a concern with none of the top 10 players taller than 6-foot-5. Mitchell still isn't about to let up on his team, which plays in a competitive Del Rey League as well as several tournaments and tough nonleague competition. 'We challenged ourselves,' Mitchell said. 'We have a really good schedule.'

 

Bishop Montgomery
Coach: Doug Mitchell

N-26/D-1 @ Redondo Tourn
D 15 @ Rim Rattler Invit
17-22 @ La Canada Tourn
26-29 @ Modesto Chr Tourn
J 02 Calvary Chapel
04 @ *St Bernard
05 @ Fresno Union (@ Lynwood)
11 *Serra
12 @ Calvary Chapel Invit
16 @ *St Paul
18 *Bishop Amat
19 @ McDonalds Invit
25 *St Bernard
26 Mayfair
F 01 @ *Serra
04 *St Paul
06 @ *Bishop Amat

Bishop Amat--3-5, 18-8 (2nd) "Lancers"

The Lancers will return the following players:

Joshua Myles  5'-11" Sr. G
Juan Canas  6'-2" Jr. G
David P8ierson  5'-8" Sr. G
Henry Largaespada  5'-9" Sr. G
Joseph Gonzalez 6'-0" Sr. F
Paul Porter  6'-1" Jr. G
Jonathan Haywood  6'-5" Sr. F  (LMU)
Wesley Walker  6'-3" Sr. F
Andrew Soto 6'-1" Jr. F
George Balderas 6'-6" Sr. F

Update 11/27/01:  The San Gabriel Valley Tribune published a short preview of the Bishop Amat team. Sportswriter Gabe Lacque offered the following in an article entitled "Lokar's latest move could pay off for Bishop Amat":  

"Ray Lokar certainly knows his way around the East San Gabriel Valley basketball scene. Three seasons ago, Lokar was an assistant coach on Glendora High School's CIF-Southern Section Division I-A runner-up team. He spent one season at Western Christian, and now he takes over at Bishop Amat, where he previously served as an assistant coach. Lokar inherits a talented group of players who should contend for a league title and do well in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. The Lancers were coached last season by Ray Walker, who left to start the program at Chino Hills High School. They will again be led by senior John Haywood, a guard/forward who has signed with Loyola Marymount. Guard Paul Porter also averaged in double figures last season, and Amat should be among the deepest teams in the Del Rey League."

The SGV Tribune also featured a capsule report on the team:

Bishop Amat Lancers
Head coach: Ray Lokar
Tenure: First year
Record at school: 0-0

Top returnees:
John Haywood (Sr. 6-6 G),
Paul Porter (Jr. 6-2 G)
Josh Myles (Sr. 6-1 G)
Henry Largaespada (Sr. 5-11 G)
Wesley Walker (Sr. 6-3 F)
Andrew Soto (Jr. 6-1 G)
David Pierson (Sr. 5-8 G)

Top newcomers:
Donald Smith (Jr. 6-2 G)
George Balderas (Sr. 6-7 F)
Juan Canas (Jr. 6-2 F)
Cesar Rodriguez (Jr. 6-7 F)

Strengths:
Led by Haywood (14 points, 8 rebounds per game), the Lancers will be athletic and versatile. Haywood, an early signee with Loyola Marymount, will move out on the floor and face the basket, as other players will be expected to do the dirty work down low. The Lancers return seven players who saw a lot of action last season.

Concerns:
Lokar must find the right combination of players to fit into his system out of a large group.

Bottom line:
Haywood, probably the best player in the area, can carry the Lancers, but he probably won't need to. Porter also averaged in double figures, and they should be quite deep. In the Del Rey League, every night is a challenge, but the Lancers should be up to it most nights. At least a return to the CIF-SS Division II-A quarterfinals should be in the cards. "
_________________

The paper also featured a story on John Haywood, which we've excerpted and linked to below.

 

Bishop Amat
Coach: Ray Lokar

D 3-8 @ Arroyo Tourn
11-15 @ Alhambra Tourn
18 Monrovia
19 @ Diamond Bar
20 Bassett
21 @ Duarte
26-29 @ Covina Tourn
J 02 Pioneer
04 *Serra
09 @ *St Bernard
11 @ *St Paul
18 @ *Bishop Montgomery
25 @ *Serra
26 Servite
30 *St Bernard
F 01 @ *St Paul
06 *Bishop Montgomery

Serra--3-5, 13-12 (2nd tie) "Cavaliers"

Despite the fact that the Cavaliers graduated 7 seniors from a 14 man roster, they return some solid players, including the following guys:

Jason Evans 6'-2" Jr. F
Eugene Jeter 56'-9" Sr. G
Eric McNeal 6'-4" Sr. F
Jeffrey Arnold 5'-10" Sr. G
Loren Wade 6'-2" Sr. F
Chris Hemphill 6'-5" Jr. F
Devin Stearns 6'-1" Jr. G
Eugene Hackett 6'-3" Sr. G
Shamir Hernandez 6'-7" Sr. F (transfer from Dominguez)

 

Serra
Coach: Dwan Hurt

N-26/D-1 @ Mira Costa Tourn
D 04 Chadwick
08 @ Loma Linda Academy
10-14 @ Calvary Chapel/D Tourn
15 @ Rio Hondo Prep
17 Westlake
18 @ Blair
26-29 @ Fresno Chr Tourn
J 02 @ Murphy
04 @ *Bishop Amat
09 *St Paul
11 @ *Bishop Montgomery
16 *St Bernard
25 *Bishop Amat
30 @ *St Paul
F 01 *Bishop Montgomery
04 @ *St Bernard

St. Bernard--3-5, 13-13  (2nd tied)  "Vikings"

The Vikings return the following players:

Yannick Koffi 5'-8" Sr. PG
Bruce Bevans  6'-0" Sr. G
Michael Keldorf 5'-11" Sr. G
Greg Taylor 5'-11" Sr. G
Yonas Michael 5'-11" Jr. G
Rocky Hinds 6'-3" So. F
Kevin Ross 5'-11" Jr. G

They lack a true post player, and we don't anticipate that they will win league, but they will challenge, and always do well at playoff time.

 

St Bernard
Coach: Bob Alaniz

N-26/D-1 @ Mira Costa Tourn
D 3-8 @ El Segundo Tourn
12 Oak Park
14 Mary Star
15 @ Carson
18 @ Chadwick
21 @ Santa Clara
26-29
@ La Salle Tourn
J   02 Pacifica
04 *Bishop Montgomery
09 *Bishop Amat
16 @ *Serra
18 @ *St Paul
25 @ *Bishop Montgomery
30 @ *Bishop Amat
F 04 *Serra
06 *St Paul

St. Paul-- 3-5, 14-13  (2nd tied)  "Swordsmen"

St. Paul has suffered the past few years with their youth, and now that many of those same young players have gained experience, the Swordsmen will be hurt a bit by the loss of their best player and leading scorer, Dontay Holloway (transferred to HH Wilson).

Omar Cepeda  5'-7" Sr. G
Rudy Serna  5'-10" Jr. G
Oscar Soto  5'-10" Jr. G
Tigran Grigorian  5'-9" Jr. G
Richard Rivera  6'-2" Sr. F
Kyle Farrell  6'-4" So. F
Raymond Cagigas 6'-2" Sr. F
Quinn Alvarez  6'-2" So. G
James Samarin  6'-3" JKr. F
Eric Gomez  5'-9" Sr. G

Update 11/27/01:  The Whittier Daily News  and their  "Prep Sports" website featured a preview of the Del Rio League today written by Roger Murray, (the original article can be found at this link).  What follows is the portion pertaining to St. Paul:

Last season: 18-14, 3-5, tied for second; Div.IV-AA playoffs: defeated Rosamond, 69-53, wild-card round; def. Duarte 61-59, first round; def. St. Bonaventure, 64-46, third round; lost to Crespi, 71-57, championship.

Returning starters:
Guard Rudy Serna (Jr., 5-8, 160)
Point Guard Omar Cepieda (Sr., 5-8, 160)
Forward Raymond Cagigas (6-3, 175).

Other key returner:
Guard Eric Gomez (Sr., 5-8, 160)

Key newcomers:
Forward Quinn Alvarez (So. 6-3, 170)
Guard Richard Rivera (Sr., 6-3, 160)
Guard Oscar Soto (Jr., 5-10, 170)
Forward Casey Black (Sr., 6-0, 170)
Forward Kevin Dyer (Jr., 6-3, 200)

"Serna is one of the area's best 3-point shooters and earned All-CIF honors last season. He averaged 10.5 points and made 77 3s. He was particularly impressive during the playoffs as St. Paul reached the CIF-SS Division IV-AA finals before losing to Crespi. Cepieda was steady at point guard and was the Swordsmen's best defender. Black and Dyer are transfers from St. John Bosco and are expected to contribute early, as is Alvarez, the MVP for the junior varsity last season. 'We play three games right off the bat (against Yeshiva, University and Servite),' Coach Brandon Ertle said. 'It won't take long to find out where we are. I think our learning curve will follow when we're off the following week.' "

 

St Paul
Coach: Brandon Ertle

D 04 Servite
10-15 @ Sonora/Troy Tourn
19-22 @ Irvine World News Tourn
26-29
@ Cantwell Scrd Hrt Tourn
J 02 @ Monrovia
03 Cathedral
04 Pioneer
09 @ *Serra
11 @ *Bishop Amat
16 *Bishop Montgomery
18 *St Bernard
30 *Serra
F 01 *Bishop Amat
04 @ *Bishop Montgomery
06 @ *St Bernard

In addition to some of the above information specific to the teams,  some of the local papers have also profiled selected top players, and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune profiled John Haywood from Bishop Amat on November 26, 2001.   The original article (with a great photo too) can be found at this link.

Amat forward at ease
Lancer forward heading to Loyola Marymount

By Steve Ramirez
Staff Writer

LA PUENTE -- John Haywood's mind is at ease. The only thing the Bishop Amat High School senior has to be concerned about over the next few months is basketball. There are no more recruiting letters to open, no more calls from prospective college coaches. Just basketball.

"You could tend to worry about that (stuff),'' said Haywood, who ended the recruiting process almost two weeks ago when he signed a grant-in-aid letter to attend nearby Loyola Marymount. "You could say, `Hey, where am I going?' Stuff like that. But it wasn't really the case with me. I knew where I was going, pretty much. So I wanted to sign early to get it out of the way.'' And that could mean trouble for the rest of the Valley.

Haywood, a 2000-01 second-team All-Valley forward, is one of the Valley's top returning players heading into the season, which begins this week. The senior, a preseason honorable mention All-America choice by Street and Smith Magazine, averaged more then 14 points and eight rebounds per game in pacing Bishop Amat to the CIF-Southern Section divisional quarterfinals last season. "I think he is the most athletic kid in the Valley,'' first-year Bishop Amat coach Ray Lokar said. "I don't know of anyone else who signed early, and that's usually a pretty good indicator.

"College coaches usually have a pretty good idea of who's good and who's not. And for him to be the only kid (in the Valley) to commit and sign early says something in relation to him and the other kids in the Valley.'' But Haywood isn't concerned with that. His only worry is getting the Lancers back to the CIF-SS quarterfinals and beyond.

"I'm really not worried about personal goals,'' Haywood said. "I feel when the team rises, my personal (numbers) will rise, too. If we're doing well, I'm getting my looks and points.'' It's that type of unselfishness that first caught the eye of Lokar, who was named Bishop Amat coach this past spring. "He has kind of been a pleasant surprise,'' Lokar said. "He's been the hardest worker, the most supportive kid. "He's really a good-attitude kind of kid. It makes your job a lot easier when your hardest worker is also your best player on the floor. The other guys kind of follow him. He's a leader and he sure is talented.''

That ability to look at the overall picture played a part in Haywood's decision to attend Loyola, a program that was nationally recognized in the early 1990s but which has drifted to the lower end of the Division I spectrum in recent years.   He chose the Lions over more noted programs such as Oregon and Massachusetts. Boise State and UC Irvine also were in the picture. "If you're jaded a bit, you might lean in (the) direction (of going to a bigger school),'' Lokar said. "But (John) knew what was important to him.'' And that was both the locale and academic structure at LMU.   "No. 1, the school, academically, was great,'' Haywood said. "It's a great location and (the LMU coaches) were the most loyal to me, from Day 1. So I wanted to be loyal to them. "UCI was a big contender but what it came down to was that Loyola fit me best. Being able to play my freshman year, that meant a lot. I feel it's the perfect fit for me. They are trying to bring back what they where. I'm all for that and I want to be a part of it.''

But first Haywood has some unfinished business at Bishop Amat. "I want to win a CIF championship,'' Haywood said. "That's my goal.''

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