What we learned: A FTH Post-Tourney Wrap up
The calendar has turned over a new page, as has the 2015-16 high school basketball season.
The new year means the end of the high-school tournament season, and the beginning of league play and showcase games.
With the tournament season over, FTH will look back and see what we have learned about some of San Diego's most high-profile teams - and some of the biggest surprises too.
1. San Diego's "Big 3" is legit
At the start of the season, we tabbed Foothills Christian, St. Augustine and Cathedral Catholic as potentially being the best triumvirate of teams San Diego has seen in quite some time. So far, the team's performances lend nothing to change that notion. Foothills Christian has lost two games all season: Chino Hills and Corona Centennial (which they defeated earlier in the season); St. Augustine has wins over Catwell Sacred Heart, Diamond Ranch and Santa Margarita, and too only has two losses; to Foothills Christian and Archbishop Mitty in the Under Armour Holiday Classic. Cathedral Catholic isn't off to the fastest of starts at 6-4, but its losses were to Mitty, Jesuit and Chicago powers Bogan and Whitney Young. In between its losses, the Dons won a division of the Tarkanian Classic that was capped off with a win over Rock Canyon, Colorado's sixth ranked squad. Expect for these three teams to represent the region in the state playoffs, whether it be Division 1 or at the Open Division level, and one of them to make a deep run.
2. Poway, Lincoln, Morse and La Jolla Country Day are all for real
Every year, there are a handful of teams that seemingly come out of nowhere to get off to great starts. This year, the aforementioned quartet of teams fit that ball. La Jolla Country Day is off to a 15-0 start with wins over Grossmont and Kearny in which they dominated the opponent. The Torreys have an intriguing mix of young talent and senior leadership, and its lone senior - Bruce Edwards - is playing the best basketball of his career. Lincoln has also been a major surprise, picking off Coastal League stalwart Parker twice and Eastern League title contender Mira Mesa two out of three games. While there are no true stars, Lincoln has a deep team that plays hard and has bought into Jeff Harper Harris' philosophy in Year 2. Guard play has been a strong spot for the Hornets, with junior transfer Alex Dumas and senior Moli Mojus having strong seasons. Morse was not expected to contend after losing Brandon McCoy to transfer and graduating UC Riverside guard DJ Sylvester, but the Tigers have rallied around their star, senior wing Justin Davis, and are off to an 8-4 start with a win over fellow surprise team Poway, Great Oak and La Costa Canyon. The Tigers are also buoyed by the surprise return of sophomore guard Robert Young, who was expected to miss the season recuperating from knee surgery. If La Jolla Country Day is the biggest surprise, then Poway, with its 13-2 record, might be a close second. Graduating high-scoring guard Dalton Soffer and versatile forward Matt Beeler created a void of leadership, which has been filled by committee. Two players, however, have emerged as clear leaders for the Titans: junior point guard Derek Sit and sophomore swingman Zach Reiter, who won the MVP for the Governor's Division of the Under Armour Holiday Classic, in which Poway defeated previously 12-1 Riverside Poly in OT to capture the crown.
3. Parker, Mission Bay, RB and Escondido not off to fast starts
Conversely, every year you have teams that are highly touted in the preseason that don't quite live up to expectations early on. Parker, Mission Bay and Escondido fit this bill for a variety of reasons. In the case of the Bucs and Lancers, it is injury. Tulane-bound point guard Justin Moore has missed five games for the Bucs, which have struggled in losses to Kearny, Parker, Westlake (UT) among others. Parker was missing starting guard Andrew Cross until the Under Armour Holiday Classic, and lost a pair of close games to Lincoln, but were blown out by Poway and Kearny. Escondido hasn't had major injuries, but role allocation after the graduating of stalwart point guard Khy Kabellis has been an issue, as scoring guard Marcus Hentley has slowly grown into the role of floor general. Rancho Bernardo, which returned almost everyone from its Division 3 semifinal run, was also expected to challenge Torrey Pines for the Palomar League crown. but the Broncos are off to an underwhelming 5-4 start, and have gotten inconsistent play from its reserves. Each of the teams will have an opportunity to turn the corner in league play.
4. Tournament Champs:
Bonita Vista/ Mt Miguel: Lincoln, Ramona
Granite Hills: Poway
Coast News Classic: El Camino
Winter Prep Classic: Lincoln
North County Classic: San Marcos
Montgomery Aztec: California (San Ramon)
Sweetwater Lions Club: El Camino
Chula Vista Spartans Classic: Grossmont
Surf and Slam: St. Stephens; Westlake
UA Holiday Classic
-American: Corona Roosevelt
-Senators: Oakland Tech
-Mayors: La Jolla Country Day
Saint Augustine won Pasadena Rose City Classic and the Santa Margarita Holiday Classic