The New Southern California Basketball

CIF-SS Small Enrollment Division Preview:
Mission League 2001-02--(Nov. 21, 2001)

Notre Dame/
Sherman Oaks
St Francis

The Mission League has been one of the most competitive leagues in the San Fernando Valley region over the years, composed of entirely private schools, mostly Division III but one D-I school (Loyola, which also isn't in the San Fernando Valley, but instead is in downtown Los Angeles), along with a few D-IV's, most notably Crespi, which won a Section Championship for the first time in its history last season after splitting a league title with Notre Dame.   The league has been dominated for the past few years by names such as Cody Pearson of Notre Dame (now at Long Beach State), Scott Borchart  of Chaminade (now at Santa Clara University),  Andrew Moore (who will be enrolling at USC), and Russell Lakey (who actually graduated two years ago, and is the starting point guard at Vanderbilt).   But this year the league is wide open and we'll have to see what happens to determine who the next big-name player will turn out to be.  There are a lot of excellent young players, and it's really anyone's race to win. 

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.

Mission League Rosters Mission League Schedules
Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks--9-3, 23-7 (1st tie) "Knights"

Notre Dame will be rebuilding after graduating11 seniors from a 15 man playoff roster.   Gone are all 5 starters from last year, including Cody Pearson (LB State), Ruben Sanchez, and Mike Luderer.  Here's the roster we received from the coaching staff:

Orlando Baeza 5’10 So G
Danny Calin 6’ 8 Jr C
K.C. Croal 6’ 1 So G/F
Steve Cullity 6’ 3 So F/C
Sean Djernes 6’ 0 Sr G
Chris Flick 6’ 2 Jr F
Jason Lepore 5’ 11 Sr G
Patrick Sison 5’ 6 Sr G
Josh Smith 6’ 2 Sr G/F
Jeff Sobel         6’ 3 Sr F/C
Michael Srour 6’ 1 Sr G/F
BeeWee Vallesteros 6’0 Fr G
Jimmy Welker 6’ 3 So G/F
Tyler Rose 6’ 2 Jr G

Playoff Record: 2-2 Canyon and LaSalle Tournament Champs
Head Coach: Rob DiMuro Asst. Coaches: Rob Kurowsky, Kevin Kenney,
Matt Geyer

We don't expect the Knights to contend for a league title, but then you never know. . . .

Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks
Coach: Rob DiMuro

N-27/D-1 @ Saugus Tourn
D 10-14 @ El Dorado Tourn
18 Newbury Park
22 Simi Valley
26-29 @ La Salle Tourn
J 03 *St Franics
05 @ *Chaminade
09 *Alemany
14 @ *Crespi
16 *Loyola
18 *Harvard/Westlake
24 @ *St Franics
26 *Chaminade
29 @ *Alemany
F 01 *Crespi
05 @ *Loyola
07 @ *Harvard/Westlake

Crespi Carmelite--9-3, 19-6 (1st tie)  "Celts"

The Celts won a league title and then went on to win the CIF IV-AA title, a first Section crown ever for the Celts in basketball.  But four of five starters are gone, and Dick Dornan's squad graduated 7 seniors, including CIF Player of the Year Andrew Moore.   Here's the official roster from Coach Dornan:

Allan Ellis 6'-2' Sr. G
Rob Koslowsky 6'-2" Sr. G
Casey Wong 6'-1" Sr. G
Danny Witt  6'-1" Sr. F
Dino Fekaris  5'-10" Jr. G
Eric Anderson  6'-3" Jr. G
Aynsley Moffitt 6'-2" Jr. G
John-Liam Stapleton 6'-3" Jr. F/G
Michael Sisto 6'-4" Jr. F
Kevin Flahavan 5'-9" So. G
Uche Anyanwu 6'-3" So. F
Kyle Bremond 6'-0" So. G

Head Coach:  Dick Dornan (5th season, 67-44 overall)
1 Mission League title (2001)
1 CIF Title (2001)

Varsity Asst. Coaches:
Chris Yoakum
Paul Grazulis
JV Head Coach: Rob Poyer
JV Asst.: Blake Tibbetts
Freshman Head Coach: Anthony Vacca
Freshman Asst:  Robbie Nicholas

Here's the preview we received from the school:

Crespi, the defending CIF Division IV-AA Champions, return only one starter, Allan Ellis and 5 lettermen (Ellis, Koslowsky, Wong, Fekaris and Anderson).  Ellis was 2nd Team All-CIF last year as the Celts went 24-7 and advanced to the State Quarterfinals in Division IV.  The 24 wins were the 2nd most in school history and the CIF Championship was the first in the 42 year history of the school.   Coach Dornan enters his fifth season with an overall record of 67-44 and was named CIF Coach of the Year, Daily News Coach of the Year and LA Times Coach of the Year last season.

This season, Ellis (10 ppg) and Koslowsky should lead th eway.  Koslowsky averaged 13 ppg and 6 rpg over the summer.   The Celts possess 7 terrific long range shooters but lack height and size.  Transfers Uche Anyanwu (Taft) and John-0Liam Stapleton (Crossroads, with a year in between attending school in the midwest) will add to the nucleus (readers of SoCalHoops will recognize John's name from Rockfish Spring League....his father also coaches one of the Rockfish teams as well and was a former assistant at Fordham).  With the addition of talented sophomore Kevin Flahavan, who averaged 24 ppg on the freshman team, there will be some additional offensive ability.  Crespi has only 4 seniors on this year's varsity but is very talented on the JV and Freshman levels.  Twenty freshman made the program this year, 5 on JV and 15 on the frosh team, so look for the Celts to rebuild for a year or two from now.  This year's varsity will rely on accurate shooting, tough-nosed defense, and quickness to offset its lack of size and height.  Championship experience will be a key intangible for this year's squad.

Coach Dornan also offered us this view of the league:

"The Celts will look to qualify for the playoffs for the 5th consecutive season as the Mission League looks to be in the grap of either Loyola, Harvard-Westlake or Chaminade.  But then again, Crespi was picked to finish 4th last year and instead won their first mission League Title since 1992.   The future of Crespi basketball looks very promising and exciting." 


Crespi Carmelite
Coach: Dick Dornan

N-29/D-1 @ San Luis Obispo Tourn
D 3-8 @ Beverly Hills Tourn
13 Servite
15 @ Santa Clara
18 *Harvard/Westlake
21-29 @ St Anthony Tourn
J 03 @ *Harvard/Westlake
05 @ *St Francis
09 *Chaminade
11 @ *Alemany
14 *Notre Dame/SO
18 @ *Loyola
26 *St Francis
29 @ *Chaminade
31 *Alemany
F 02 @ *Notre Dame/SO
07 *Loyola

Chaminade College Prep--8-4, 17-8 (3rd) "Eagles"
(new coach this season, Brian Cantwell)

Marcus Everett 6'-0" So. G
Chris Abi-Chaker 6'-0" Sr. G
Dion Cook 6'-5" Jr. G
Gerred Link 6'-0" Sr. G
Josh Jones 6'-5" Sr. F
Jon Todd 6'-9" Sr. F
Adrian Aye-Darko 6'-2" So. G
Jeff Stewart 6'-2" Jr. F
Trevor White 6'-5" Jr. F
David Estrada 5'-10" Jr. G
Kevin Hiraiwa 5'-9" Jr. G
Chris Olney 6'-0" Sr SG
Jesse Taylor 6'-6" Sr. C
Dylan Bridges 6'-4' Sr SF

(graduated 6 seniors, including Scott Borchart (St. Mary's)
Marcel Jones 6'-4" So. F--transferred to Mater Dei

We heard from the coaching staff at Chaminade and they provided us with the following info, in addition to the roster above:

Season Outlook:
"This years team will feature an uptempo style of play offensively as well as an aggressive defensive style. Unlike in years past, the offense will not run through the post, it will, however, be predicated on the ability of the guards to push the ball up the court and provide defensive pressure to the opposing teams backcourt. 

Coaching Info:
"Chaminade will now be guided by long time assistant Bryan Cantwell. Cantwell has served as an assistant a Chaminade since 1994. In those seven years Cantwell helped lead the Eagles to consecutive CIF and Mission League Championships in 1998 and 1999, as well as playoff berths from 1994-2001. Coach Cantwell attended California Lutheran University where he met and played for his mentor Mike Dunlap, (Head Men's Basketball coach Metro State University - Denver, Colorado. 1999 Division 2 National Champions). Cantwell has adopted many of coach Dunlap's philosophies and teachings and brings that knowledge with him in his first season as a head coach. Cantwell will not be alone, however, he will also be joined by another long time assistant Chris Johnson who is entering his sixth season at Chaminade. Along with Cantwell, Coach Johnson attended California Lutheran University and played for Coach Dunlap. Rounding out the staff is varsity assistant Chris Lawson, JV coach Larry Allbritton, and freshman coach Darrin Jones, making the transition a smooth one for the Eagles."

The coaches also provided us with some detailed info on some of their players:

Marcus Everett - A true point guard with the ability to score and dominate a game. Outstanding outside shooter, very good ballhandler and great floor general, a natural leader. Had a very strong showing at Five Star Camp in Pittsburgh this summer in spite of an ankle injury he suffered in a summer league game just days prior to leaving for the camp. Projected as a D-1 prospect in basketball as well as football where he is a two way starter at WR/DB. Fastest player on the team as well as top returning scorer and assist man.

Adrian Aye-Darko - Along with Everett, these two provide a one-two punch in the backcourt that is hard to match. A natural scorer and maybe the best athlete in school, silky-smooth player who can do it all: score, rebound, defend, pass. Has a very high basketball I.Q. as well as a high GPA. Another projected D-1 prospect in basketball and football he is also a two way starter at WR/DB.

Dion Cook - Cook is the younger brother of Cayce Cook, (a standout point guard who played for Chaminade from 97-99 and is now playing for Colorado Christian University). Cook is a super athlete who runs the court well, has excellent jumping ability, can score from the outside or the post. Cook has very long arms which makes him a very good defender and rebounder.

Jon Todd - Todd is the younger brother of J.J. Todd, (who played for Chaminade from 96-99 and is now playing for University of California-Santa Barbara). Todd is a hard working post player who can score with a number of moves down low. Provides a defensive presence in the paint and is a tough, hard nosed shot blocker.

Josh Jones - Jones is another two sport athlete with great athletic ability. A tenacious defender and rebounder and team leader. Can score in the post or step out and hit the mid-range shot. A very good passer for a post player and is the top returning rebounder.

Other players who will are expected to contribute include:
Gerred Link - Nice outside shooter and defender.
Chris Abichaker - Good passer and stronger off the dribble.
Trevor White - Big guy with three point range and nice post moves.

Side Note:
This years team features three brothers of players who played on the Chaminade CIF Championship teams in '98 and '99, they are:
Dion Cook - Brother of Cayce Cook (Colorado Christian University)
Jon Todd - Brother of J.J. Todd (UCSB)
Jeff Stewart - Brother of Justin Stewart (SDSU)

Coach: Jeff Young

D 4-8 @ Canyon Tourn
11 Canyon
17 @ *Alemany
19 @ Kiwanis Tourn
26-29 Chaminade Tourn
J 05 Notre Dame/SO
07 @ Harvard/Westlake
09 @ Crespi
17 *St Francis
19 @ *Loyola
24 *Alemany
26 @ *Notre Dame/SO
29 *Crespi
31 @ *Loyola
F 02 *Harvard/Westlake
05 @ *St Francis

Loyola--7-5, 16-8 (4th)  "Cubs"

We received the following roster from Loyola Cubs coach Jim Williamson, so we're fairly certain that this is an accurate roster for the team for the 2001-02 season: 

Name Yr Ht. Wt. Pos.
Ali Decasto 12 5’10 160 G
Will Roberts 12 6’0 160 G
Terence Balagia 12 6’4 200 F
Omar Wilkes 11 6’4 172 G
Morgan Roberts 11 6’2 170 G
Patrick O'Connor 11 6’6 175 F/C
Davis Cantor 11 6’2 165 G
Josh Flynn-Brown 11 6’3 180 G
Jay Leffall 11 6’0 165 G
Byron Jones 11 6’2 175 F
Ryan Foresta 11 5’8 150 G
Adam Bonifer 11 6’3 175 F
Nick Gonda 11 6’5 195 F/C
Chris Rucker 11 6’5 200 F/C
Vince Oliver 10 6’1 180 G

Coaches: Jim Williamson, Jamal Adams, Mike O'Quinn
Managers: Sean Flaherty, Anthony Pinkett, Jeremiah Lejade, Josh Rea

We'd expect Loyola this season to contend for a league title now that Notre Dame and Crespi will be rebuilding, and it looks like the race will be between Loyola, Chaminade and Harvard-Westlake.  From a pure talent point of view, there isn't a more talented player in the entire league right now than Omar Wilkes, who made a national name for himself this past summer with the Pump N Run team and at the prestigious adidas ABCD Camp in New Jersey which features perhaps the top 200 players in the country.  Returners to watch for also include Davis Cantor, Josh Flynn Brown, Chris Rucker and Nick Gonda.  The Cubs will start off at the 1st Annual AMDG Classic Tournament which will be held up at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose. The AMDG Classic will feature teams from six Jesuit schools: Jesuit of Sacramento, Saint Ignatius of San Francisco, Loyola of Los Angeles, Brophy Prep from Phoenix, Denver’s Regis College Prep, and Bellarmine. The tournament’s title draws on the Jesuit motto, "Ad Majorem Dei Glorium," meaning "to the greater glory of God."   According to what we've been able to find out about the tournament (which actually is quite a bit), besides the three games each team will play, Bellarmine will provide other venues for the students to get to know each other: On Friday, November 30, visiting students will attend some classes at Bellarmine, share in a liturgy and participate in a field trip to the Tech Museum of Innovation. The students will share meals together each day of the tournament, a hospitality room will be set up to serve dinner to visiting teams, coaches, and officials and visiting students will stay with Bellarmine families, not in hotels or with their entire teams. Followikng the Bellarmine tournament, they'll return to a more "traditional" basketball setting of the El Segundo Tournament, and then will play at the Torrey Pines National Prep Classic, one of the two large tournaments taking place on the west coast this year at the end of December.

You can also keep up with Loyola throughout the season by following Cub Sports Online, the school's own sports website.


Coach: Jim Williamson

N-29/D-1 AMDG Classic Tourn
D 4-7 @ El Segundo Tourn
13 @ Buena
26-28 @ Torrey Pines Tourn
J 05 @ *Harvard/Westlake
09 *St Francis
14 *Alemany
16 @ *Notre Dame/SO
18 *Crespi
19 @ *Chaminade
26 *Harvard/Westlake
29 @ *St Francis
31 *Chaminade
F 02 @ *Alemany
05 *Notre Dame/SO
07 @ *Crespi

St. Francis--5-7, 11-14  (5th) "Golden Knights"

We will be the first to note that we know next to nothing about the St. Francis Golden Knights.  The team graduated 8 seniors from an 11-man roster, and while St. Francis usually excels in football, last year's team was pretty decent considering that they barely made the playoffs, and graduated a D-I player (Michael Jenkins who is now on the roster at Northwestern).   The schedule looks fairly pedestrian, which ought to be just fine because these guys will need to use the preseason to get ready for the kind of competition they'll face during the regular season, which will be considerable again.  A playoff spot could be iffy, but St. Francis is always well-coached, and somehow finds a way to see post-season action.  

As we say, we don't have a current roster, but here is who ought to return at a minimum:

Kevin Davies 6'-3" Jr. G
Chris Miller 6'-2" Sr. F
Steve Sartoris 5'-10" Sr. G

Update 11/24/01:  The LA Times had some local coverage of Glendale area schools on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2001, running a series of small capsule profiles. Here's what they had on St. Francis of La Canada:

Coach: John Jordan, 15th year.
League: Mission.

Last Season: 11-14, 5-7 in league for fifth place. Lost in first round of CIF Southern Section Division IIIAA playoffs to Banning, 71-63.

Players to watch:
Chris Miller, senior, forward;
Kevin Davies, junior, forward.

Jordan's quote: "It'll be hard to replace Michael [Jenkins], but we're more balanced this season. We've got several guys that can be double-figure scorers.


St Francis
Coach: John Jordan

D 11 South Pasadena
15 San Gabriel
17-22 @ La Canada Tourn
26-29 @ San Gabriel Tourn
J 03 @ *Notre Dame/SO
05 *Crespi
09 @ *Loyola
11 @ *Harvard/Westlake
17 @ *Chaminade
19 *Alemany
24 @ *Notre Dame.SO
26 @ *Crespi
29 *Loyola
31 *Harvard/Westlake
F 02 *Chaminade
07 @ *Alemany

Harvard-Westlake --4-8, 9-15 (6th) "Wolverines"

We received the following roster from the H-W athletic office, so it's pretty accurate:

2001-02 ROSTER

Player No. Ht. Wt. Yr.
Austin Scott 10 5’7 170 12
Tep Royster 1 5’10 145 10
Craig Weinstein 12 6’0 175 12
Drew Firestone 4 5’10 155 12
Bryce Taylor 14 6’4 178 10
Adam Gilman 5 6’0 160 11
Bobby Weinberger 20 6’0 165 11
Jim Shook 25 6’2 170 11
Marty Matthies 22 6’1 172 11
Harris Chung 23 6’3 182 11
Robbie Wizenberg 24 6’1 190 12
Zach Woolridge 21 6’5 181 10
Mike Carley 33 6’5 228 11
Ed White 11 5’11 147 9
Evan Harris 15 6’7 180 10
Jon Kichaven 30 6’4 235 12

Head Coach: Greg Hilliard Asst. Coaches: George Fecske, Larry Klein

The team will be led by starting point guard Craig Weinstein and a cadre of other supporting seniors and juniors, as well as several rising young sophomores and even a freshman.  Inside, H-W has some size and bulk up front with guys like Evan Harris, a mobile and agile big man.  Mike Carly and Jon Kichaven will provide some backup, while Zach Woolridge should see some time at the wing and small forward spots.  But like a lot of high school teams, the Woverines are guard-heavy, which is a very good thing, considering most of them are excellent ball-handlers and can shoot the three.  Bobby Weinberger and freshman Ed White are real three-point specialists, as is senior Robbie Wizenberg. Look for the Wolverines to run, run and then run some more, and to shoot the ball a lot.  This is not an overly quick team, nor is it a team that's going to blow anyone away with spectacular athleticism, but it's a solid club, and they've got a phenomenal player in young and developing Bryce Taylor


Coach: Greg Hilliard

N-27/D-1 @ Saugus Tourn
D 3-8 @ Thousand Oaks Tourn
12 North Hollywood
18 @ *Crespi
20-22 @ Powerade Holiday Classic
J 03 *Crespi
05 *Loyola
07 *Chaminade
11 *St Francis
16 @ *Alemany
18 @ *Notre Dame/SO
19 @ McDonald’s Invitational
26 @ *Loyola
31 @ *St Francis
F 02 @ *Chaminade
05 *Alemany
07 *Notre Dame/SO

Alemany--0-12, 5-20 (7th) "Indians"

The Indians haven't made the playoffs since Darryl MacDonald was the coach.  That year, he was lucky enough to get Devin Montgomery (Duquesne, Moorpark JC, Pepperdine) as a transfer from San Fernando,  along with four other San Fernando players....which drew an inordinate amount of attention to the Alemany program, in fact a lot of unwanted attention, and eventually someone from the Daily News, a local paper we all know, looked a bit more closely into MacDonald's background than perhaps he would have liked,  which revealed a prior felony conviction.  Of course the upshot of that was MacDonald's termination from the school, and an exodus of sorts by players, and in reality the MacDonald experiment, which lasted just one season, set the school back considerably;  the football team is still very competitive, but the basketball program, which was always on the verge of doing great things, has never recovered.  Last year's best player on the roster, Evan Cline, graduated, and his younger brother, also a talented guard, who had been anticipated to be at Alemany is instead attending Oaks Christian in Westlake Village.   Again, we have no idea who will be suiting up for the Alemany Indians, but anything will be better than going 0-12 again in league.


Coach: Chris Dunbar

D 17 *Chaminade
19 @ Oak Park
26-29 @ Clovis Tourn
J 09 @ *Notre Dame/SO
11 *Crespi
14 @ *Loyola
16 *Harvard/Westlake
19 @ *St Francis
24 @ *Chaminade
29 *Notre Dame/SO
31 @ *Crespi
F 02 *Loyola
05 @ *Harvard/Westlake
07 *St Francis


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