The New Southern California Basketball

CIF-SS Small Enrollment Division Preview:
Rio Hondo League 2001-02--(Nov. 25, 2001)

La Canada
San Marino
South Pasadena
Temple City

The Rio Hondo League title is, in our view, going to again come down to a battle between La Canada and Monrovia, and the battle for the third automatic playoff spot will be between the rest.   Monrovia returns the most talented player in the league, Bryant Markson, who has signed with Utah, but La Canada also has a couple of legitimate D-I prospects, including the sensational junior point guard Billy Hofman who knows a thing or two about basketball, having learned it from his father, the longtime coach at La Canada.   We know a little bit about the rest of the teams in the league, but not a lot.  What follows is in most cases only partial roster information, with some history, occasional player insights, and schedules.   The schedules are accurate as far as we know, because they've come from the CIF-SS office.  Like the rest of our league previews, we can't be everywhere at once, so 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.  Here's what we know, which admittedly isn't complete:

Rio Hondo League Rosters Rio Hondo League Schedules
Monrovia--10-0, 21-4  (1st) "Wildcats"

Monrovia made it last year to the II-A playoffs third-round quarterfinals before losing to Ocean View.  The No. 1 team in the Rio Hondo League played Hacienda Heights Wilson in the first round (an at-large entry from the Miramonte League), then dropped Fullerton in the second round before losing in the quarters.  We haven't seen a roster for the 2001-02 season but based on last year's roster, Monrovia will still be deep and could challenge for the league title again.  Unfortunately for them, they lost Ryan O'Hara 6'-7" Sr. F who transferred to Muir, principally for football (he's a QB and signed with Arizona), and promising freshman big man Thomas Herring, a 6'-8" 260 lb space-eater, who has transferred to LA Fremont, and who helped the Pathfinders defeat LA Birmingham this past Wednesday, taking them to the LA City Section semi-finals....but that's a who different story and a different sport.....).  

Also inside, Monrovia returns one of the best players in the San Gabriel Valley region, Bryant Markson a 6'-6" Sr. F who has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of Utah next season.   Again, we don't have the official roster, but here's who should be returning:

Ray Lewis  5'-11" Sr. G
Mike Sechi 5'-10" Jr. G
Steffon Barron 5'-10" Sr. G
Richard Bourne 6'-5" Sr. C
Bryant Markson 6'-6" Sr. G/F--commit to Utah

Hopefully, the LA Times, and/or one of the Los Angeles Newsgroup papers (e.g., Pasadena Star News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, etc) will publish their league and team previews soon.  Better yet, someone may want to e-mail us a full roster. 

The schedule this season is challenging, but shouldn't overwhelm.

Update 11/26/01:  The Pasadena Star News' "Prep Sports" section featured a very nice article by sportswriter Keven Chavez on Monrovia and Bryant Markson in particular. It can be found at this link.   Based on the article, it appears that Markson's injury, suffered at a Rockfish Spring League game, hasn't completely healed yet, but Markson is still looking forward to the season.  In the article, he talks about the effect that the injury had on him this past summer and how the injury occurred: 

"I took a charge from some 320-pound dude,'' he said. "As soon as I tried to stand up, I just fell right back down. I crawled off the court and tried to walk but couldn't even do that.''

* * *

For Markson, the injury meant doing rehabilitation and watching from the sidelines instead of playing in the nation's top spring and summer tournaments.  "It's hard, the hardest thing I've ever done,'' said Markson, who averaged 20 points and eight rebounds last year. "I'm in Vegas at Big Time tournament and it's killing me to not be out there. I was a little upset. It's been a challenge.''

* * *

"On the Internet, it said that some people just don't recover and are never the same (after ACL surgery),'' Markson said. "So I was a little nervous and thought, `There goes my college career,' but then all I do is look at (Charlotte Hornets guard) Baron Davis. He had this and look at him.''   Markson is ahead of schedule and is expected to be cleared to play around the second week of December. It should be just in time to make his third varsity season the charm. 


Coach: Doug Schmidt

D 3-8 @ Arroyo Tourn
11-14 @ Crescenta Vly Tourn
18 @ Bishop Amat
20 @ Charter Oak
26-29 @ Brea Olinda Tourn
J 02 St Paul
09 @ *South Pasadena
11 *Temple City
16 @ *La Canada
18 *Blair
19 PCC Invitational
23 @ *San Marino
25 *South Pasadena
29 @ *Temple City
F 01 *La Canada
05 @ *Blair
07 *San Marino

La Canada--7-3, 22-7 (2nd)

We bumped into Coach Tom Hofman at one of the few fall exposure events (no D-I coaches, but plenty of D-II, III and NAIA guys there), and while he promised to send us a roster, we haven't seen one yet, and didn't want to hold off on the preview any longer.   

Update 12/03/01:  Here's the roster from Coach Hofman:

3 Andrew Scott Jr G 6-0
4 Joel Kim Sr G 6-2
5 Mark Moore Sr F 6-2
11 Robbie Neyland Sr G 6-3
12 Umar Khan So G 5-10
20 Billy Hofman Jr G 6-1
22 Chris Wang Sr G 6-0
24 Garrett Speicker Jr G 6-0
25 Ross Coleman Jr F 6-2
31 R.T. Van Valer Sr F 6-2
32 Dan Vargas Jr F 6-1
40 Greg Gaudino Sr F 6-6
41 Simon Coetzee Jr C 6-7

Players to watch JV

6-6 Phillip Anderson Fr Could be one of the best at LC
6-1 Craig Ballard Fr Brother of Brent and Tim will be the best Ballard. Cousin of Stanford's Casey  Jacobson.


The LA Times had a small capsule report on a few of the teams in the league in the Glendale-Pasadena local edition, and while it wasn't complete either, it's better than nothing.  Here's what the LA Times published this past Friday, 11/23/01, and we've added some information where known:

Coach: Tom Hofman, 16th year.
League: Rio Hondo.
Last Season: 22-7, 7-3 (2nd place)
Lost in quarterfinals of CIF Southern Section Division IIIAA playoffs to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 58-47.

Players to watch:
Billy Hofman, 6'-1" Jr. PG
Robbie Neyland 6'-4" Sr. G
Greg Gaudino 6'-5" Sr. F
Joel Kim 5'-11" Sr. G

Hofman's quote: "This team is even more deeper than last year's. We've got five guys returning, who at one point or another, have started in their career.

The Times also carried a story by local sportswriter Hamlet Nalbandyan, who regularly sees La Canada and wrote about them extensively last season.  Here's the excerpt from the article pertaining to La Canada's prospects for the 2001-02 season: 

"Tom Hofman's squad not only has the superstar, but its got plenty of talent down the roster as well. Which is why the Spartans are thinking Rio Hondo League title for the first time since 1998.  "This team is even more deeper than last year's," said Coach Tom Hofman. That's an impressive statement considering La Canada went 22-7 last year and was arguably the area's best squad. And like last year, Billy Hofman will carry the torch for the Spartans. The junior point guard just might be the area's best player. He only scores about 10 a game, but he also averages seven assists and plays flawless defense -- and you'll rarely see him make a poor decision with the ball. The Spartans also have one of the purest shooters out there in Neyland. An all-league first-team selection last year, look for him to improve on his 12-point-per-game average this season. Outside of those two, the Spartans -- unlike other area teams -- have about six or seven more players that can start and contribute regularly, led by 6-foot-5 forward Greg Gaudino and sharp-shooting guard Joel Kim."

Again, we'll update the roster as soon as we receive a complete list of players. . .



La Canada
Coach: Tom Hofman

N 26 @ Highland
D 3-8 @ Arroyo Tourn
11 @ La Salle
14-22 La Canada Tourn
26-29 @ La Salle Tourn
J 04 Glendale
09 *Blair
11 @ *San Marino
16 *Monrovia
18 @ *Temple City
19 @ St Francis Tourn
23 *South Pasadena
25 @ *Blair
30 *San Marino
F 01 @ *Monrovia
05 *Temple City
07 @ *South Pasadena

Temple City--5-5, 13-11 (3rd) "Rams"

Temple City finished third in league and made it to the Division II-A playoffs, where they lost their first round game against the Orange League's No. 3 entry, Magnolia, which lost in the second round to section runner-up Mayfair.   We haven't seen a complete roster yet, but based on the playoff roster from last season, here's what we'd expect to see this season:

Kevin Sweeney 6'-0" Jr. G
Desmond Reed 5'-9" Jr. G
Tomoji Onogi 6'-1" Sr. F
Jonny Eskander 5'-11" Sr. G
David Sung 5'-11" Sr. G
Creighton Chow  5'-4" Jr. G
Vinny Lopez 5'-7" So. G
Bobby Marks 5'-11" Sr. F
Greg Johnston 5'-7" So. G

Not a lot of size, so the Rams will again have to stress defense and good perimeter shooting if they want to qualify again for the playoffs.

Temple City


Blair--4-6, 11-13 (4th tie) "Vikings"

While Blair made the III-AA playoffs last season, the  Vikings finished in a tie for 4th in league, and thus didn't get an automatic berth, but did receive an At-large berth by virtue of the 11-win rule.  They managed to get Pomona in the first round, the Miramonte League's No. 2 team, and lost.  Based on last year's playoff roster, here's who we expect to see back on the Blair roster for 2001-02:

Kenny Norris 5'-11" Sr. G
Thomas Morris 5'-10" Sr. G
Prentis Smith 6'-2" Jr. F
Rubin Tucker 5'-10" Sr. G
Lavone Ogletree   6'-2" Jr. G/F
Douglas Ealy 5'-10" Jr. G/F

Blair only graduated one senior, Adam Rodriguez a 6'-1" F from last year, but the Vikings hopes took a turn for the worse over the summer when Darryl Strawberry Jr., 6'-2" So. G/F decided to join his cousin Mikey at Mater Dei and transferred out.


Coach: Shawn Peron

N 27 @ La Salle
D 01 @ Glendora
3-8 @ Fremont Tourn
10-15 @ El Dorado Tourn
18 @ Serra
27-29 @ KSA Tourn
J 09 @ *La Canada
11 *South Pasadena
16 @ *San Marino
18 @ *Monrovia
23 *Temple City
25 *La Canada
30 @ *South Pasadena
F 01 *San Marino
05 *Monrovia
07 @ *Temple City

South Pasadena--4-6, 8-16 (4th tie)

South Pasadena didn't qualify for the playoffs, winning only 8 games overall and as a result, we don't have a playoff roster to review, and while we think we recall someone sending us a roster for the 2001-02 season, we can't seem to locate it on the computer we're working on to prepare this. . . .maybe we'll find it during the coming week, but if not, we're sending out an SOS for South Pasadena.

South Pasadena
Coach: Ryan Weisenberg

N 27 Alhambra
30 St John Bosco
D 04 South Hills
6-8 @ Poly/P Tourn
11 @ St Francis
14 @ Hoover
26-29 @ San Gabriel Tourn
J 04 Wilson/HH
09 *Monrovia
11 @ *Blair
16 @ *Temple City
18 *San Marino
23 @ *La Canada
25 @ *Monrovia
30 *Blair
F 01 *Temple City
05 @ *San Marino
07 *La Canada

San Marino--0-10, 3-22 (6th)

Like South Pasadena and Blair, we have absolutely zero information.  We'll update this as soon as we get something reliable in the way of roster info.  In the meantime, we have a schedule.

San Marino
Coach: Sonny Hayes

N 27 San Gabriel
N-28/D-1 @ Rosemead Tourn
D 6-8 @ Poly/P Tourn
10 Southwestern
11-15 @ Alhambra Tourn
J 04 Gladstone
09 @ *Temple City
11 *La Canada
16 *Blair
18 @ *South Pasadena
23 *Monrovia
25 *Temple City
30 @ *La Canada
F 01 @ *Blair
05 *South Pasadena
07 @ *Monrovia


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