Saturday, December 31st, 2005 at 5:30 am in Prep Sports.
Two things come up immediately when you talk to the boys basketball coaches in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League.
First, everyone agrees that Las Lomas is the rabbit, the team everyone else is chasing out of the gate.
Second, though, and this is important, is that Campolindo — yes, the Campolindo that won the North Coast Section Division III title and came within two points of the state championship game before falling to eventual champ Santa Cruz, then graduated nine seniors — is back. With a vengence.
Somehow, the Cougars reloaded from last year’s stellar run, and should be right back in the thick of things in terms of the DFAL title. Pete Gierlach, Mike Colonna, Scott Nittler and company have really clicked in the early going, and coach Chris Whirlow has a tendency to push all the right buttons.
Still, Las Lomas is deep and experienced at guard and boasts one of the league’s very best players in David Stafford, who can fill it up and makes everyone else on the floor better.
Maybe the biggest bummer about the coming DFAL season is that these two powerhouses only square off one time under the league’s modified schedule. Go ahead and pencil Jan. 24 in on your calendar. If you only see one DFAL game this year, that’s the one.
However, Acalanes has the league’s premier big man in 6-7 junior Jordan Fillmore, and scrappy guards Steve Nigro and Gavin Beeman — who, like he did for the football team, just makes everyone better — make the Dons a scary No. 3 team.
Miramonte is going to hit the gym running every night, and Ben Weinstein and Co. will not lack for hustle or toughness. Whether that moves them into the title hunt remains to be seen, but they’re going to be a tough matchup for just about everyone.
Defending league champ Alhambra, led by 6-6 swingman Chad Black, should remain competitive despite graduating a ton of talent from last year’s 13-1 squad. The Bulldogs won’t lack for athleticism with guards Cameron Yarber and Brandon Rutley. And hey, they were picked to finish sixth last year, too. So why not the Bulldogs?
It’s widely believed that Mt. Diablo guard Antonio Flaggs is the best player in the league. The question for the Red Devils remains how well the supporting cast can come together to help him out on the few nights when he doesn’t go for 35.
Never, ever overlook Northgate, if only because Dan Swan is one of the best coaches in the area. But he’s going to need to see marked improvement from somebody not named Davey Lynch if the Broncos are going to make a run at the playoffs. Guards Clarke Dolliver and Tysan Lynch could be the keys to the puzzle.
College Park, Dublin and Concord all are young and inexperienced, and could struggle in league action against some polished squads. But don’t be surprised if the Falcons and Gaels, at least, knock off one or two of the league’s superpowers before all is said and done, just like the Minutemen did with Alhambra last year.
Then again, what do I know? I’m the football writer, remember.
Think you know something I don’t about the DFAL? Post a comment.