Much like their respective football teams, the boys’ basketball teams at Burbank and Burroughs highs have a similar feel. Burbank has a deep nucleus returning. Burroughs has a star leader in Tristen Hull, but is relatively inexperienced around him. Both teams are hoping to achieve similar success to last season when both went deep into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Bulldogs went 20-11 a year ago and return four of five starters as well as their sixth man. Burbank will carry 14 players with seven seniors and seven sophomores.
Last season the Bulldogs reached the quarterfinals of the Division 2 AA playoffs, before losing to Loyola of Los Angeles.
Burbank is led by 6-foot-2 senior Michael Woods, a first-team all-league pick a year ago. Woods also earned second-team All-CIF honors.
“He does everything for us,” second-year coach Jamayne Potts said. “His job is to give us points or create for others.”
Faraz Khandaker (6-3) was the sixth man last season and led the team in rebounding.
“He brings a lot of energy on both sides of the floor,” Potts said.
Cameron Sweeten (5-11) returns as the point guard.
“He dictates our tempo and gets everyone their open looks,” Potts said. “He should lead our league in assists. He has that kind of ability.”
Thomas Clark (6-4) was Burbank’s defensive player of the year last year. He has committed to Macalester College in Minnesota.
Potts said Clark generally takes on the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s tallest player, but is more than an inside presence because of his ability to knock down three pointers.
Ben Chavez (6-2) is also a returning starter and is a solid shooter.
Abdullah Kobaissi (6-3) is a versatile returner who Potts said greatly improved in the summer.
Henrik Anassian (5-8) is a guard who Potts said is one of the smartest players on the team.
“We have some high expectations for ourselves. We would like to get above 20 wins,” Potts said. “We’re also looking to win league. We know it won’t be easy, but with the veteran group that we have we should be competing for (a) league (title). We’d like to make the CIF championship this year.”
Of the sophomores, one interesting player is sophomore Tyrese Willis, who will sit out the first month of the season after transferring from Village Christian. Willis is a 5-5 point guard with a bright future.
Erik Harutyunyan (6-1) and Duncan Smith (6-4) are both experiencing success with the football team and will add some depth when they return.
Jared Pasion (5-7) is a point guard up from the freshmen team. Luke Johnson (5-9), Avi Rivera (5-10) and Chance Van Hook (6-1) are all sophomores who came up from the freshman team.
“We have a senior group that will provide great leadership,” Potts said. “They are mentoring the sophomores so when they graduate those sophomores will be ready to go. The sophomores are talented. They went 24-3 and learned how to win as freshmen.”
The Indians are coming off an outstanding season in which they went 22-8 and reached the semifinals of the Division 1A playoffs, losing to eventual champion Santa Monica.
Allen Ellis has taken over as coach for Adam Hochberg, who stepped down to spend more time with his family.
Four players return from that team. Mostly notably is the versatile Hull, who has grown 6-7. Hull said he is being looked at colleges like Cal State Los Angeles, Northern Arizona, North Dakota St. as well as others.
“He’s going to have to play all positions at times,” Ellis said. “He’s our five-four man, but he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create for others. We’re going to utilize that and utilize his strengths the best we can to help the team.”
Like Burbank, Burroughs will carry 14 players on varsity.
Also returning to the varsity are senior power forward Justin Henderson (6-3) and senior small forwards Austin Marx (6-0) and Brannan Shepherd (6-0).
“I think we have a lot of talent. Defensively we’re going to be aggressive and go after it,” Ellis said. “I like our chances throughout the year. I like our chances in league. We’ll be ready to play every single night.”
Junior point guard Stefon Foster (6-2), who was on the junior varsity last year, is expected to take over the playing making duties.
“We have a couple of young guys like Stefon Foster who is going to surprise a lot of people,” Ellis said.
Also up from the junior varsity is sophomore guard Zion Bazzell (6-0).
“We’re excited to watch him play,” Ellis said. “He’s very young, the youngest on the team but he has a great skill set.”
Junior Omar Searcy (5-11) and senior Ryan Del Castillo (6-1) also figure to be in the mix to get significant playing time.
Rounding out the team are seniors Hunter Cutone (5-8), Adam Kaba (6-1), Trevor Renga (6-3), juniors Carson Clarke (6-2), Kevin Rickman (6-0), and DJ Hubbell (5-8).