Daily News boys basketball preview: 10 teams to watch this season

The high school boys basketball season got underway this week. Here are 10 teams, in alphabetical order, to watch this season:

Birmingham

The Patriots could be the team to beat in the West Valley League, especially since the departure of Taft coach Derrick Taylor. Birmingham reached the CIF Los Angeles City Section Open Division semifinals last season.

Alex Dupre and Ryan Sostman are set to lead the Patriots as senior captains.

Campbell Hall

Point guard Aaron Powell, a 6-foot-1 Cal Poly commit, looks to lead the Vikings’ offense this season.

“Aaron is a tremendous young man who has worked extremely hard on and off the court, earning him a DI scholarship,” Campbell Hall basketball said in a post on X. “Aaron will go over 1000 points this season.”

Isaiah Johnson and Baron Bellamy join Powell as senior captains this season and could make an impact on both ends of the court. Campbell Hall received a nod on the CIF-SS Division 2AA watch list.

Chaminade

The Eagles want to push the pace in games this season and be physical on defense. They want to be scrappy, but also not ignore the fundamentals.

“We have to focus on the fundamentals, which we kind of got away from with some of those guys that we had in the past, which is a flaw for us,” coach Bryan Cantrell said at Mission League media day. “But we’re growing everyday as well.”

Senior Bryce Goldman (6-foot-5) and Amir Johnson have been playing together since middle school and Chaminade will rely on their chemistry.

Crespi

Derek Fisher takes over as head coach at Crespi this season with experience as an NBA player, NBA coach and WNBA coach and general manager.

“We’re excited, but we’re also measured in that excitement,” Fisher said. “When I agreed to accept his job, a lot of it was about thinking about how to help these young guys get to where they want to get to as they move forward.”

Crespi’s Peyton White shoots a free throw during a game against Chatsworth on December 8, 2022. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Peyton White is healthy after dealing with injury last season and said at Mission League media day that his shooting and ball handling have improved. Freshmen Carter Barnes and Isaiah Barnes will have an opportunity to contribute.

Harvard-Westlake

The defending CIF State Open Division champions are approaching this season with a “new year, new team” mentality, according to coach David Rebibo. Returning players are expected to reprise their roles, but also take on additional duties.

“The beauty of having great depth and some really talented players is we have an opportunity to put them out there, provide experience and see what they do,” Rebibo said during the Mission League media day. “But we’re also looking for other guys to step up.”

Trent Perry, a 6-foot-4 guard and USC commit, returns for his senior year with the Wolverines. Other key upperclassmen will likely be 6-4 senior guard Robert Hinton and 6-2 wing Christian Horry.

Heritage Christian

Heritage Christian got a mention in the CIF-SS Division 2AA preseason watch list after reaching the CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinals last season.

Tae Simmons, a 6-foot-7 power forward, will be in his junior year with the Warriors and should create more highlight-worthy plays.

Tae Simmons of Heritage Christian against Village Christian January 10, 2023. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame

Senior guard Mercy Miller looks to lead the Knights in his senior year. The 6-foot-5 Houston commit leads a young group for Notre Dame, which is coming off a CIF State Division I championship.

“We’re really young and we’re very energized,” coach Matt Sergeant said. “Very determined to have a great year.”

Sergeant said at Mission League media day that shooting guard Bryce James, a transfer, has been a “great addition” and that sophomore wing Jordan Ballard could provide energy off the bench, similar to what 6-foot-2 junior Angelino Mark did last season.

Sierra Canyon

The Trailblazers’ theme for this season is “kaizen,” a Japanese word that means continuous improvement.

“This year’s team is maybe a little bit different than Sierra Canyon has had in prior years. We’re a little bit less experienced,” assistant coach Chris Howe said. “It means that we need to play perhaps a little bit differently, a little bit more intently, a little bit more disciplined, a little bit more structure.”

The Trailblazers will emphasize disruptive defense and will press and trap wherever they can. Senior and 6-8 forward Noah Williams returns for his second season with Sierra Canyon and spent extra time in the weight room this offseason. Justin Pippin is back at guard and Howe called junior guard Jayden Alexander a “certified sniper.”

Valencia

Reigning Daily News Defensive Player of the Year Bryce Bedgood has a chance to improve in his senior year as a big with the Vikings, who won a Division IV state championship last season.

Valencia is upperclassman-heavy this year with nine seniors on the roster.

Bryce Bedgood #35 of Valencia drives to the basket against Half Moon Bay in the first half of a boys basketball CIF State Division IV championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 11, 2023. (Photo by Libby Cline Birmingham, Contributing Photographer)

West Ranch

The Wildcats have won the Foothill League title for the last three seasons, and made the CIF Southern Section’s preseason watch list in Division 1.

James Evans, a 6-foot-4 UNLV commit, returns for his fourth season with West Ranch at small forward. Senior big Tracy Bryden lost a significant amount of weight for his final year with the Cats.

“Tracy Bryden (is) down 20 pounds since summer,” West Ranch basketball said in a post on X. “Has 30 more pounds to go. He will be one of the hottest high school bigs this season.”

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