By Rick Assad
Burbank High, Burroughs and Providence are looking to win or finish near the top of its respective leagues and then advance deep into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Bulldogs, Bears and Pioneers boys’ basketball teams have a good chance of succeeding in that endeavor.
Burbank’s Sid Cooke who has been coaching basketball for a long time and with much success, thinks the Pacific League title is basically up for grabs.
“Regarding the league, all I can say is that everyone lost key players except for maybe Pasadena,” he said. “I think everyone is in the same boat, just waiting for their younger guys to develop.”
The Bulldogs, who fashioned a 6-11 record and 2-5 for sixth place in the Pacific League, lost to San Pedro 78-73 in the first round of the Division II AA playoffs, and will be led by senior shooting guard/small forward, six foot one, Sattwik Banerjee, who came into his own last season and should be even better this season.
The other seniors on the squad are small forward Dante Shahbazian (6-2), small forward Nathan Figueroa (6-1), small forward Josh Navarro (6-2), point guard Ashot Danielian (5-11), point guard Alex Aroyan (5-8), shooting guard Liam Baker (5-11) and shooting guard Steven Harutyunian (6-0).
The juniors Cooke has at his disposal are shooting guard/small forward Omar Piyand (6-2) and point guard Mike Gutierrez (5-8).
The lone sophomore is point guard Kevin Debashian (5-10) and the only freshman on the club is shooting guard Evan Baker (5-11).
Allan Ellis has been the Bears’ head man for several seasons and has had several competitive teams.
Burroughs put together a 17-10 overall mark and 3-4 in league for fifth place and then edged La Canada 55-45 in the Division III A playoffs but lost to Bishop Diego 58-50 in the second round.
“I love this group. Every year is a different team and a new challenge. In my seven years here, this is one of the most competitive and resilient teams that I’ve ever been around,” Ellis said.
Ellis added: “I love coaching them. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this year and they’re really playing with a chip on their shoulder,” he noted. “They really feel like we’re one of the best teams in the league and they’re ready to show everybody that they can play with anybody on any given night and that we’re not going to be an easy out.”
The Bears are going to be without power forward/center T.J. Lumpkin (6-5), who transferred to Village Christian.
This season’s edition includes senior guard Tyrell Burrell (5-10), senior guard Sam Horning (5-10) and senior guard Elden Jackson (5-11).
Four juniors populate the team and they are shooting guard/small forward Chase Kardosh (6-2), shooting guard Arthur Gabrielyan (6-1), shooting guard Thomas Mahoney (5-11) and point guard Francesco Sabato (5-10). Elijah Orjuela is also on the squad.
There are three sophomores on the team, and they include point guard Jagger Topp (5-10), small forward/power forward Landon Everhart (6-4) and point guard Jacob Samontina (5-8).
Providence cobbled together a 19-7 record and 8-0 for first place in the Prep League.
The Pioneers drilled Arcadia 82-55 in the first round of the Division III AA playoffs, held off Walnut 63-58, but were beaten by Rancho Cucamonga 71-57 in the quarterfinals.
Half of Providence’s team is comprised of seniors and they are power forward Nick Stolicker (6-6), wing/small forward Maxwell Hudnall (6-4), guard/wing Kaiden Fine (6-1), small forward Nicholas Sarkissian (6-1), point guard Ben Curtis (5-10) and point guard Connor Cafferty (5-10).
The rest of the team will consist of junior wing Julian Thompkins (6-3), junior power forward Alexander Kochoa (6-3), junior wing Jalen Thomas (6-2), junior guard Ciaran Turner (6-1), point guard Alex Kizirian (5-8) and sophomore wing Jacob Arias (6-1).