The biggest surprise in the first month of the high school basketball season is the rise of City Section teams.
Taft is 7-1 in the return of Derrick Taylor as coach. Washington (4-4) has wins over Loyola and Orange Lutheran. Birmingham (5-3) has a star in the making in Devante Doutrive, who keeps scoring in the 30s. Fairfax (5-0) and Westchester (4-3) are as good as advertised. Dorsey (4-3) and El Camino Real (4-3) have held their own against top opponents. Narbonne (2-2) will soon get a lift from football players arriving.
Even the non-Division I teams are playing well. Lincoln is 6-0. South Gate is 5-3. Central City has a senior guard, Joel Finney, who's averaging 33 points.
It's going to be pretty easy picking eight teams for the Open Division playoffs. The improved depth should help with other divisions.
A big development was the debut of Donald Gipson for Fairfax last week. He had knee surgery following his injury last March. He scored 14 points against Venice, including four threes. A healthy Gipson is good news for the Lions, who leave Wednesday for a tournament in Hawaii.
Taft could be the most dangerous team, because several new players will be joining the team in January. What you can say is that Taylor doesn't need a whole lot of time to make an impact, especially when he has a point guard the caliber of sophomore Kihei Clark, MVP of the Beverly Hills tournament.