By Rick Assad
Seeking the same prize, the Pacific League banner, is a yearly ritual for the Burbank High and Burrough boys’ basketball teams.
This campaign is no different, and each hope to make some noise before the dust settles.
Last season the Bulldogs went 10-5 overall and had a 5-2 mark in league play.
What was impressive, though, is that the team advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III AA semifinals.
Key among those were senior shooting guard Elmer Reyes and shooting guard Phoenix Mosley, who was then a junior.
Burbank began this trek by knocking off Montclair 46-44 in the first round, and then edging Thousand Oaks 62-56 in the second round.
The next time the Bulldogs took the court they beat Foothill in the quarterfinals 79-73 before falling to King [Riverside] 64-51 in the semi.
Burbank has been elevated to Division II rhis season and though the competition will be stiffer, Sid Cooke, the head coach, feels confident the team will respond.
“I expect us to be at the same level and the same standard,” he said. “It’s a different team, and they’re still learning, but we’re going to play hard.”
Cooke said that he’s trying to install a philosophy and a system, and it takes time to implement. “The kids all know each other and there’s good chemistry and they play hard,” he said.
Mosley, who is 5-foot-10, will be a key player this season and is a terrific two-way athlete.
“Phoenix isn’t going to be asked to score as much, but he’s going to be one of our floor leaders,” Cooke said.
Besides Mosley, there are four other seniors and they are 6-3 small forward Arman Danielian, 6-3 small forward J.G. Lambert, 6-0 wing Alex Emami and 5-5 point guard Nathan Contreras.
Six juniors are on the team and they include 6-5 center Benjamin Forster, 6-3 forward Josh Navarro, 6-2 wing Sattwik Banerjee, 6-1 wing Giovanni Castillo, 5-10 point guard Julian Gonalez and 5-10 guard Liam Baker.
The Bears, who are coming off a season in which they went 6-9 and 4-3 in league, fell to Eastside [Lancaster] 62-40 in a Division III AA opening-round match, are also looking to make an impact in league play according to Allan Ellis, the coach.
“The first couple of games are really important because they’re league games,” he said. “I haven’t seen every single team in the league, but I like our chances. If we compete and play hard, we’re going to be right there.”
In his sixth season at the helm, Ellis is raising the stakes with respect to the number of games this team is shooting for.
The best record Burroughs has posted during Ellis’ reign is 19-10 and 7-7 in league during the 2019-2020 campaign, which included a 55-45 loss to St. Bonaventure [Ventura] in the Division III A first round.
The Bears’ big men include 6-6 T.J. Lumpkin and 6-3 Chase Walker, while 6-0 Elias Pavia, 6-0 DeSean Robinson and 6-0 Chase Kardosh will also play in the frontcourt.
The backcourt players are 5-11 Sam Horning, 5-11 Noah Valdez, 5-10 William Hubbell, 5-10 Elden Jackson, 5-10 Nick Schlander, 5-10 Jake Johnson, 5-9 Jesse Pineda, 5-8 Jailen Jackson and 5-7 Jagger Topp.
The starters will be Horning, Schlander, Elden Jackson, Robinson and Lumpkin.
“Our goal is 20 or more wins and I think they’re attainable. We want to win as many games as we can so we can get a good seed [for the playoffs],” Ellis said. “We haven’t won the league championship since the 2000 season.”