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The heirs up there

Foothill League boys basketball is seeing an influx of new stars this summer

Posted: July 21, 2009 10:02 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon senior forward Wesley Bartole is among the players emerging from summer ball ready to carry the flag for the Foothill League, which saw 10 of its 12 first- and second-team all-leaguers move on.

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Next winter, Foothill League boys basketball will have a much different look.

The league was dominated by seniors last season, and 10 of the 12 first- and second-team all-league selections have moved on, as well as league player of the year Maverick Ahanmisi.

Golden Valley senior swingman Trevor Wiseman and Valencia junior guard Lonnie Jackson head into next season as the cream of the crop.

And by most accounts from summer ball, both are going to have plenty of help.

Golden Valley graduated seven seniors off last season’s league championship squad, but senior Khatari Price is excelling during summer play.

Price served primarily as Golden Valley’s sixth man last season, but he struggled to get on the floor at times because of how heavily the Grizzlies relied on their starting five.

He shouldn’t have any such problem this season.

“Tari’s been our best player,” said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. “For the majority of the time, he handles the ball. He’s our point guard. He’s extended his range as a shooter, and he has to be our best defender.”

Printz also commended Price’s leadership qualities, which will help bring along other young talents like Brandon Hale and Taylor Statham.

Both juniors, Hale and Statham were key contributors on Golden Valley’s junior varsity team, which won a league title last season.

“I’ve been impressed with how open-minded they are,” Printz said. “I’ve been very impressed by their willingness to learn.”

Printz was also impressed by one of Jackson’s running mates at Valencia.

“I’ve seen Valencia without (Jackson), and I thought Brennan Bernardino’s play has really just skyrocketed,” he said.

Bernardino came off the bench for most of last season, but his play gradually improved and he cracked the starting lineup late in the season.

Valencia co-head coach Rocket Collins credited his speed and size for the insertion, and Bernardino might have a new backcourt mate next season.

After playing on junior varsity last winter, junior Max Sommer has impressed Collins during summer competition.

“He can play wherever we need him,” Collins said. “He can shoot the 3, defend well. He could start but he’ll definitely be the sixth man.”

Saugus head coach Derek Ballard also praised the play of Price and Bernardino this summer, and noted the improvement of Centurions junior guard Brad Buchignani.

“He can score, he shoots well and he can drive,” Ballard said. “He gets to be all over the place.”

Two other players who have stepped up over the summer are senior forwards Sean Picard and Jon Grisanti. Neither received much playing time on varsity last winter, but both should make sizeable contributions as Saugus tries to return to the top of the Foothill League.

After finishing second in 2008-09, Hart lost almost everyone from its varsity roster. Therefore, junior forward Cole Preston has had to grow up quick.

Preston saw limited action as a sophomore, but according to Hart head coach Tom Kelly, his game – and confidence – have blossomed during summer ball.

“He played varsity last year but was kind of a role player,” Kelly said. “You can just see he has a confidence about him. He’s scoring from the perimeter and scoring in transition. He’s scoring in more than one way.”

Hart’s Roman Delgado has made the jump from junior varsity this summer and has quickly made an impression as the new starting point guard.

“He’s a really hard worker,” Kelly said. “He’s always in the gym trying to get better.”

A couple of the coaches were impressed with the upcoming talent at Canyon, too.

Printz praised sophomore point guard Coley Apsay.

“I can tell he’s going to be a good one,” Printz said.

Ballard was also impressed by forward Wesley Bartole, who averaged 5.3 points per game last season. Bartole was in the frontcourt rotation but should get increased minutes this winter with the departure of four senior forwards.

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