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SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL PREVIEW : FOOTHILL LEAGUE : Burbank

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COACH: Fred Cook, 3rd season

LAST SEASON: 6-16; tied for 5th in league, 1-9

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Only two players return. Senior guard David Ranney (5-foot-11) averaged only six points last season but had two 18-point performances, one in the playoffs. “He’s our one shooting threat,” Cook said. Senior forward Henry Mangadi (5-9), the other returner, averaged five points and three rebounds. Senior center Peter Kim, who skipped last season, should be the top rebounder. Senior guard Trevor Dossen (6-0) will be the point guard, a position he filled on last year’s junior varsity. Senior Ken Vudmaska (6-3) averaged seven rebounds to lead the junior varsity. Also up from the junior varsity are swingman Tyson Helsley (6-0) and guard Mike Jonas (5-11), both juniors. Junior guard Kendrick Lewis (5-11), a good athlete, did not play last season. Sophomore center Brad Warner (6-3) led last season’s sophomore team in most statistical categories.

OUTLOOK: Kim, Vudmaska and Warner form the best inside combination Cook has had. But the league is tough. “Our goal is to stay out of the cellar,” Cook said. “Anything under 5-5 will be a disappointment.”

Burroughs

COACH: Art Sullivan, 1st season

LAST SEASON: 11-10; 4th in league, 5-5

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Seven players graduate from the junior varsity, which Sullivan coached last season. However, the offense will revolve around three returning lettermen. Junior point guard Gabe Colon (6-0) played sparingly last season but averaged 25 points a game in summer league. Senior forward Phil Hernandez (6-2) is a returning starter and junior center Jeff Pinnow (6-5) played part time last season. All three are excellent defenders, Sullivan said. Also expected to start are senior guard Mike Rangle (5-8) and junior forward Mike Merina (6-4), each of whom averaged 12 points last season to lead the junior varsity. Juniors Marcel White (5-10), a good ballhandler and a transfer from Georgia, and Thomas Mike (5-8), a tenacious player, are battling for the sixth-man position. Senior James Bush (6-2) will fill in at center and forward. Ralphael Delacruz (5-10), the school’s top sprinter, is another good ballhandler and “the kind of kid you throw in to help on a press,” Sullivan said. Junior forward Troy Wilson (5-11, 200) relishes physical inside play.

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OUTLOOK: Burroughs is loaded with quickness and several players might overachieve. “It’s a little tough to say how we’ll be at this point, but we’re pretty quick and we have reasonable size,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to try to hurt people with our defense.” This is the youngest Burroughs team in recent years.

Hart

COACH: Greg Herrick, 5th season

LAST SEASON: 19-7; 1st in league, 9-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior forward Ali Peek (6-5, 245 pounds) will be tough to defend. Hart, consequently, will be tough to stop. “He’s one of the top four players I’ve ever coached,” Herrick said. Peek is one of the top 50 seniors in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports. An all-league selection last year, he averaged 13 points and 8.5 rebounds and shot 64% from the field. He also averaged 25 points in the final five games, including a 35-point playoff performance against Buena. Senior guard Mike Riner (6-2), last year’s sixth man, will feed the ball inside to Peek. Senior Erik Stephens (6-3) and junior Matt Steffe (6-4), each of whom averaged 17 points to lead the junior varsity last season, will team with Peek to form a strong front line. Senior guard Andy Arriaga (6-0), the team’s best outside shooter, moves into a starting role. Junior David Sanders (6-2), who averaged eight points on the junior varsity last season, is the likely sixth man. Junior guard Brandon Moore (6-0), who sat on the varsity bench as a sophomore, should see more action. Also up from the junior varsity are 6-4 seniors Chris Hoaglund and Bill Bedgood. Sophomore forward Cody Patterson (6-4) has been so impressive that Herrick elevated him from the freshman squad. Senior Matt Gillespie (6-0), son of USC baseball Coach Mike Gillespie, is a reserve guard.

OUTLOOK: The game plan is simple: Run down the court and give the ball to Peek. “I’m not trying to hide anything,” Herrick said. “Once we get the ball in there, it’s either two points or a foul.” Hart has enough talent on the perimeter to keep defenses honest and enough rebounding strength to overpower opponents. A second consecutive league title looks promising. Schurr should provide the stiffest competition.

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