The Accal season kicks off today and Pinole Valley is seeking to defend its title from a season ago. The Spartans (11-0) lost Jontelle Smith, who is now starring for St. Mary’s College, but might be a better team. The addition of freshman center DeNesha Stallworth allows the Spartans four other starters to wreak havoc on the wings. Stopping the Spartans isn’t easy with all five starters capable of scoring 20 or more per game. Jasmine Smith, Jontelle’s younger sister, can do it all score, rebound, pass and play defense. And as talented as she is Jaleesa Ross might be their best offensive player. Ross can score inside, outside and on the break.
The Spartans versatility is one of the reasons why they were picked to win the league again. However, don’t sleep on El Cerrito. The Gauchos match up nice with Pinole Valley. Guards Myleka Emerson and Shonetta Crain-Williams can score at will. Then throw in guards Imani Carson, Shameika Davis and Kiara Lewis and forward Ashley Rollins and El Cerrito has enough scoring power to stay with Pinole Valley. Berkeley had a rough nonleauge showing, going 4-6 but any doubts that coach Gene Nakamura won’t have the Yellow Jackets in the running come NCS would be foolish. Hercules and Richmond have both improved and have 20-point per game guards in K.K. Martin and Alexsis Brown, respectively.
Alameda has talent returning with three starters back, and with Ahshalic Johnson taking over the program, the Hornets should add another level to their defense. Encinal lost Shay Rollins, now playing at USF, but has a promising freshman in Destinee Martel. De Anza is going through a rebuilding stage with new coach Mike Aloi.