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Five Teams Have a Chance

Posted: January 25, 2008 5:51 a.m.
Updated: March 27, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Thank goodness Valencia and Saugus are playing tonight on the first day of second round play in Foothill League boys basketball.

Now we'll know, with the teams being 4-1 and tied for first place, who the frontrunner for the title is.
Um, yeah - not so much.
Already this season, Valencia has lost to Saugus, which lost to West Ranch, which lost to Hart, which lost to Canyon.
Golden Valley is the only team that hasn't entered the party at 0-5.
So it seems, anything can happen in Foothill boys basketball this season - just as predicted before the season started.
At the end of last season, five teams made the playoffs. West Ranch was left in the cold.
All six could make it this season as Golden Valley needs one win for the magic No. 12, which is the minimum number of wins a team needs to qualify for the postseason.
But the first thing these teams are aiming for is a Foothill title - especially Saugus, which hasn't secured a league crown in 25 years. The Centurions have shown they may be the best team in the league because of their chemistry.
Then there's Valencia - the most talented squad.
And West Ranch - the most improved and some say the best coached team.
And Canyon - with the most talented tandem.
There's Hart - maybe the team with the biggest heart after overcoming adversity.
Decisions, decisions.
Maybe this will make it more clear.
T1. Saugus (17-3, 4-1)
People talk about West Ranch being a big surprise, but what about the Centurions?
Not the biggest team or the most talented, Saugus may be the most precise and focused squad.
Center Cameron Diorio has been the breakout player of 2007-08, leading the team with 14.9 points per contest.
His ability to shoot from all parts of the floor has created a matchup nightmare for opponents.
His surrounding cast has been outstanding as well as Saugus has a well-defined starting five. All players in the starting lineup are naturals for their position, with exception to Diorio.
One of those players, Michael Cassio, defined his 2006-07 season by coming on strong late in Foothill play.
If he provides that same contribution again, the Cents will be tough to beat every night.
T1. Valencia (15-6, 4-1)
The Vikings finally have it right.
Sure they won a league title in 2005, but this is what Valencia basketball is supposed to be - a talented group with individual roles.
It's also obvious who the team's playmakers are and coaches Rocket Collins and Greg Hayes have allowed them to flourish.
Center Jim Baughman has been a beast on the defensive side of the ball.
Shooting guard John Otavka has less pressure to score because of the emergence of Skyler Seymour, yet he still leads the team at 12.6 per contest.
And the league hasn't seen what point guard Terrez Scott is capable of yet.
The Vikes lost 70-63 to Saugus in the league opener.
There's no bigger game for them in the second half than today's rematch - that is unless they're playing for the league crown.
3. West Ranch (15-6, 3-2)
Seeing is believing.
Watch the Wildcats and you'll see why they've knocked off Saugus and Canyon.
With a fast attack offense and pressure defense combined with constant substitutions, they're tough to beat.
But the Wildcats blew a 14-point lead with 3:30 to play to Hart Jan. 18.
Do they have that killer instinct and the go-to guy?
Other times, they've shown it and Beau Martin has been one of the major players late in games.
T4. Hart (16-6, 2-3)
When Hart dismissed the league's leading scorer Michael Montgomery from the team after just the second league game, it created some issues.
Who would be the next option.
The next best pure scorer is Brad Wyche, but he hasn't taken the torch.
Levi Wenrich is one of the best point guards in the league, but has been relied on heavily to take over scoring duties.
One player off the bench has shown the ability to create instant offense - Rendon Dominguez - but overall, the team's offense is still its biggest question mark.
Or is it defense?
Hart surrenders the second most points per game in the league - by just 0.2 points.
Should the Indians solve those problems, they might get back in the hunt.
T4. Canyon (11-10, 2-3)
It's not much of a shock here - Canyon's Cody Anderson and Mark Lewis are very good.
But basketball, and baseball and cricket for that matter, are team games.
Lewis at 18 points per game and Anderson at 17.5 are carrying the load.
Mike Edwards has done a nice job as the third option, but the Cowboys have to score a lot to win.
In 12 games that they've scored 60 points or less, the Cowboys are 3-9, dropping their last six.
So is defense the issue?
Not necessarily so.
The Cowboys are in the middle of the pack in team defense.
6. Golden Valley (11-9, 0-5)
Plain and simple, the best chance Golden Valley has to beat a Foothill team is today at home against Hart.
They match up well with the Indians.
Should that happen, the Grizzlies have enough talent to have a respectable finish.
Guard Maverick Ahanmisi has given a solid 15.8 points per game and 6-foot-5 point guard Trevor Wiseman is tough to guard, hence his stats - 12.6 points, 6.2 assists (second in league to Lewis' 6.3) and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Defense has been the biggest issue for the Grizzlies, though, as they surrender a league-worst 71.6 points per game.


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