FULLERTON — Rosary Academy hosted the first ever Trinity League basketball media day on Tuesday. Here’s what we learned ahead of the 2019-20 boys and girls basketball seasons tipping off in a few weeks.
SANTA MARGARITA BOYS
First year head coach Justin Williams-Bell was hired in May from UC Riverside where he was an assistant coach. He’ll rely on junior guard Jake Blazona to lead a team that won a D1 Southern Section championship a year ago. That team had three Division 1 seniors (Jake Kyman – UCLA, Max Agbonkpolo – USC and Shengzhe Li – Oregon State). It’ll be a new look Santa Margarita team in 2019-2020.
Williams-Bell has been in touch with Santa Margarita grad and Warrior guard Klay Thompson following his hiring. “He’s been very kind to me and very kind to the program,” Williams-Bell said.
SANTA MARGARITA GIRLS
The SM girls have a first-year coach too in Christina Wear. Wear attended USC and has been playing basketball professionally overseas for the last few years. Seniors Jocelyn Ewell and Grace Kozak will be Santa Margarita’s top players. Freshman Jaya Michel will be an impact player as well. She’s from France.
Head coach Keith Wilkinson is in his second season and said he’ll “no longer be drinking from the fire-hose” in year two. JSerra’s two representatives at media day were senior forwards Ian Martinez, a Utah commit and Justin Williams, who was just offered by Cal State Dominguez Hills.
JSerra has five transfers heading into the season, three are from Mater Dei and will have to sit out. Sophomore Isaac Peralta is the one Mater Dei transfer expected to contribute once the sit out period ends. Seven-foot senior Francesco Borra is a transfer from North Carolina who is eligible and will play a big role in 2019. Alpha Chimambe is a sophomore transfer from St. Louis.
First-year head coach Geoffrey Clayton took the job at JSerra a few months ago after spending the previous six years coaching girls basketball in Fresno. His goal in year one is to change the culture at the school. Seniors Sarah Shaw and Alex Iemsisanith will be the Lions’ top players.
ST. JOHN BOSCO
St. John Bosco won the Trinity League last season under head coach Matt Dunn and this year the Braves are hungry for section and state titles. Seniors Wynton Brown and Josh Camper joined Dunn on stage Tuesday along with junior Lamaj Lewis.
ORANGE LUTHERAN BOYS
Following Chris Nordstrom’s abrupt resignation in August, Orange Lutheran named Daniel Dunbar the interim head coach. He’s an Orange Lutheran grad (2009) and current world history teacher at the school. He touched on his interim status on Tuesday.
“As far as what’s going on after the season, after this year we’re going to assess to see how things are going and go from there,” Dunbar said Tuesday. “I don’t have a comment on what the plan is for after the season.”
The Lancers lost their top seven scorers from a year ago; they’re rebuilding. Sophomore Garret Carlson and junior Eric Goodrich Jr. were the Orange Lutheran player representatives on Tuesday.
Senior shooting guard Tibet Gorener is expected to be OLu’s top player.
ORANGE LUTHERAN GIRLS
Following a Division 2AA Southern Section championship, Orange Lutheran has moved up to Division 1 this season under head coach Tom Howard. The Lancers lost seven seniors from a year ago and will be facing a bit of a rebuilding challenge in 2019-2020. Howard will rely on senior Karissa Chvilicek to lead his group.
Head coach John Morris just wants his team to get a chance. The Friars are in Division 3AA and finished 15-13 a year ago but missed the playoffs. This year, Morris has scheduled more teams in Division 3AA with the hopes of improving his team’s record to earn an at-large playoff berth. He also plans for his team to win more Trinity League games to boost their resume.
“I think we have a chance with this group to win more league games than we have [in the past],” Morris said. “…This group reminds me of a group I had five or six years ago that made the semifinals.”
The Friars will be relying on a few football players to help out on the court this season. Sophomore Tetairoa McMillan played basketball as a freshman and will be a big piece again in 2019-2020. Senior Damian Moun will also contribute once football ends.
Sophomore Tajavis Miller is one of the team’s top players along with senior Kunal Bagga.
Fresh off of a Division 1 state championship, Rosary’s goal is to continue to play like a top team in the country. Head coach Richard Yoon has scheduled Windward and Sierra Canyon in addition to their Trinity League gauntlet in 2019-2020. They’re taking on all challengers.
Senior Asia Avinger is committed to San Diego State and will lead Rosary this season. Seniors Nicole Rodriguez and Caylee Santos are important returners too.
On a sour note, senior Kate Goostrey has recently torn her ACL and will miss the season, which is a huge loss.
“We’ve dedicated the season to Kate,” Avinger said.
MATER DEI GIRLS
“This is one of the youngest teams I’ve had in my 35 years,” head coach Kevin Kiernan said on Tuesday.
What the Monarchs lack in experience, they make up for in skill. Junior guard Brooke Demetre is committed to Stanford and junior guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas has eight scholarship offers. This group will compete for sectional and state Open Division titles and are Trinity League favorites once again in 2019-2020.
Freshmen Hannah Vela and Caia Elisandez will split time at point guard for the Monarchs this season.
MATER DEI BOYS
The Monarchs are a national team. Their top seven players have been offered Division 1 scholarships, led by junior point guard Devin Askew, a Kentucky commit.
“We can play a lot of different ways,” head coach Gary McKnight said on Tuesday. “…I’m pretty pleased with the group, it’s a coaches delight..we have a little bit of everything.”
In addition to Askew, Ryan Evans, Aidan Prukop, Harrison Hornery, Wilhelm Breidenbach, Nick Davidson and Logan Cremonesi are all Division 1 players. Evans and Prukop are seniors and are both committed to Cal San Luis Obispo. Cremonesi is a senior too. The rest of the group are juniors.
Sierra Canyon is the top team in the state coming off of Open Division Section and State titles a year ago, but Mater Dei is right behind them at the beginning of the season along with Rancho Christian and Etiwanda. It’s going to be a fantastic championship race.
McKnight has coached for 38 seasons and was asked about if he had any plans to step aside on Tuesday.
“We’ll see,” McKnight responded.
He did say that when he’s done, long time assistant Jason Quinn will likely take over.