No high school basketball team in Southern California has made a faster rise to prominence than Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, which starts three freshmen and has won 15 of its 17 games while building a resume that could leave the Trailblazers playing in the new Open Division for the playoffs come February.
One of those young players is 6-foot-7 Cody Riley, who doesn't look or act like a freshman. Calm, cool and confident, Riley is part of a generation that grew up playing in big games on travel teams and seemingly made a seamless transition to high school basketball.
"He's pretty steady all the time," Coach Ty Nichols said. "We're trying to turn him into a stretch four or wing with a nice jump shot. He's only a freshman, so we have four years to do it."
Riley is averaging 15.1 points per game and has made 12 three-point baskets. Improving his outside shot was a priority, because it will enable him to look for different scoring opportunities.
"It depends how the player is guarding me," Riley said. "If he's sagging off, I'm going to shoot the jumper. But if he's up close, I'll take him in the post."
Riley, who turned 16 in December, said he has been focused on basketball since "I came out of the womb."
"My dad put a ball in my crib," he said.
He has played with many of the Sierra Canyon players growing up, including fellow freshmen Ira Lee, who's 6-7, and Adam Seiko, who's 6-3. Perhaps the key player on the team is sophomore point guard Deveral Ramsey, who has a whole different speed that he uses when needed.
"There's speed and there's Deveral Ramsey speed," Nichols said. "He's very difficult to defend, has a beautiful jump shot, shares it well. I'm just real glad he's on my team."
In prep basketball these days, there's no guarantee players who show up as freshmen will actually finish their high school careers at the same school, let alone the same season.
Riley said he's hopeful the Sierra Canyon group will stay together.
"We've grown up together," he said.
Sierra Canyon is expected to be challenged in the weeks ahead in the Alpha League against L.A. Windward, Brentwood and North Hollywood Campbell Hall. It also has a tough game Jan. 20 against Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart. But it's clear the Trailblazers have demonstrated the talent and ability to play with the big boys this season even though they suffered a 56-55 loss to Los Angeles Price on Saturday.
More schools rising
Price is 13-3 and plays a home game against L.A. Cathedral (8-1) on Monday night. Cantwell-Sacred Heart (12-2) is another team surging behind guards Joey Covarrubias and Emiliano Mejia. The team's only losses were close defeats to Corona Centennial and Los Angeles Loyola.
Off the board
Two of Southern California's best young point guards, sophomore Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills and junior Tyler Dorsey of Bellflower St. John Bosco, made their college choices last week. Ball committed to UCLA and Dorsey committed to Arizona.
Revised Azzam record
CalHiSports.com did further research on the coaching record of Westchester's Ed Azzam and determined that he is 45 victories short of tying Crenshaw's Willie West for most by a City Section coach.
Azzam is 758-232 after Westchester's 77-55 victory over Sacramento Sheldon on Saturday night. West won 803 games.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times