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SoCalHoops High School Previews

SD-CIF: Grossmont Conference
South League Preview--(Nov. 27, 2002)

The San Diego Coaches Association has been really good to us this year.  In the past, getting information out of San Diego has been like pulling teeth, but this year, we've gotten a slew of league and team capsule preview from our friends down south. 

The Grossmont Conference is a much-improved conference this year, and the South League has better depth overall than last year's group of teams. Mt. Miguel, which lost in last year's D-II semifinals, returns probably the best player in the league, J.R. Griffin, but they have a number of other guys who can also produce.  Helix, last year's champions, will have to overcome some losses to graduation, but they also have some talented guards.  Top to bottom, the league should be more competitive, making for a more exciting season.  What follows are previews and predictions from the Coaches' Assn. (no, these picks are not ours), for the South League of the Grossmont Conference, including some pre-season picks for MVP and All-League players.   Teams are listed in the order of finish; again these are the Coaches' Association's picks, so if you don't like them, blame them, not us. 

1) Mt. Miguel (Division 2, Spring Valley)

Head Coach: Jimmy Hurst (3rd Year)
Last year’s record: 19 – 10 (5 – 3, 2nd)
Last year’s playoffs: Lost in semi-finals.
Key players: J.R. Griffin (Jr, 6’04"), Ralph Johnson (Sr, 6’02"), Joey Street (Sr, 5’10"), Greg Monroe (So, 5’10")
Losses to overcome: Chris Campbell (graduation), J.R. Singh (graduation), Anthony Cox (graduation)
Summary: The Matadors return a very athletic unit who have waited all off-season to avenge last year’s heartbreaking semi-final loss. Griffin and Johnson should lead the way as they battle Helix for league supremacy.

2) Helix (Division 2, La Mesa)

Head Coach: John Singer (23rdYear)
Last year’s record: 25 – 4 (8 – 0, 1st)
Last year’s playoffs: Won CIF D-2 Championship, lost in state 1st round.
Key players: Ray Toilolo (Sr, 5’11"), Cliff Johnson (Sr, 5’10"), Tim Bland (Sr, 6’01"), Raphael Bell (Sr, 6’03"), Lance Hurdle (So, 5’09"), Charles Smith (Sr, 6’01")
Losses to overcome: Tramaine West (graduation), Kenny Farris (graduation), Stanley Caldwell (graduation)
Summary: Major graduation losses may hurt the Highlanders, but the tools to re-load are there. A lot will depend on Hurdle’s maturation and whether they can find a steady scoring option. It’s a toss-up between the Highlanders and Mt. Miguel.

3) Granite Hills (Division 1, El Cajon)

Head Coach: Jim Gleboff (8th Year)
Last year’s record: 8 – 19 (1 – 7, 5th)
Last year’s playoffs: None
Key players: Mark Hall (Jr, 6’07"), Tyrone Araya (Jr, 6’00), Rony Nasser (Jr, 5’06")
Losses to overcome: Mohammed Elhabashy (graduation), Greg Chase (graduation)
Summary: The Eagles should be improved over a year ago, but not enough to make a run at title contention. Hall is a quality young player who will do some damage inside, while Nasser and Araya should provide backcourt help.

4) Valhalla (Division 2, El Cajon)

Head Coach: Eric Thomas (2nd Year)
Last year’s record: 13 – 16 (4 – 4, 3rd)
Last year’s playoffs: Lost in 1st round.
Key players: Andrew Stinnett (Sr, 6’04"), Travis Rothlisberger (Jr, 6’01"), Devon Jones (Jr, 6’01")
Losses to overcome: Blake Fowler (graduation), Tommy Hanna (graduation), Danny Sheppard (graduation)
Summary: Graduation losses to a mediocre squad will hurt. Stinnett is a good inside player who will need Rothlisberger and Jones to step up in order to do some damage in league.

5) Steele Canyon (Division 3, Rancho San Diego)

Head Coach: Brad Leaf (1st Year)
Last year’s record: None (1st year of Varsity play)
Last year’s playoffs: None
Key players: Richie Williams (So, 5’08"), Keith Williams (Fr, 6’00"), George Cunningham (So, 6’04"), Ricky Bailey (Jr, 6’02"), Camilo Martinez (Jr, 6’01")
Losses to overcome: None
Summary: Young but talented group moves up from an undefeated JV at the new school. Richie Williams will be one of the top newcomers in the county, and if teammates mature quickly, the Cougars will shock some teams.

6) Monte Vista (Division 2, Spring Valley)

Head Coach: Zach Peck (3rd Year)
Last year’s record: 6 – 19 (2 – 6, 4th)
Last year’s playoffs: None
Key players: Nick Childs (Jr, 6’05"), Clinton Snyder (So, 6’03"), Carlos Ramer (Sr, 6’01")
Losses to overcome: Dalon Wells (graduation), Jacques Alaby (graduation)
Summary: Monarchs should be improved, but so is the overall league depth. Could easily battle other teams for middle of the pack status behind the frontline of Childs and Snyder. Still lack dependable scorer to compete with the upper echelon of the league.

Pre-Season Player of the Year:
J.R. Griffin (Mt. Miguel)

Pre-Season All-Grossmont South League:
Raphael Bell (Helix)
J.R. Griffin (Mt. Miguel)
Mark Hall (Granite Hills)
Ralph Johnson (Mt. Miguel)
Drew Stinnett (Valhalla)

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