I will be doing a weekly breakdown of the Hayward Area Athletic League. We had a few games start before the Christmas break so this will be my currently ranked order of the league along with a couple sentences or so about the squads. I am on vacation until Jan. 5, but thought I would start anyway. Here we go…. (Records are through Dec.19)
1. Castro Valley (10-1, 2-0 HAAL) - Trojans are off to another fast start and, despite their youth, have shown a lot of experience. Sophomores Roderick Bobbitt and Chris Read have filled in very nicely and a real argument can be made to say this year’s squad is better than last years. The Trojans are certainly more athletic this season.
2. Bishop O’Dowd (5-1, 1-0 HAAL) – The only true big team in the league could cause serious problems inside for opponents. The Dragons will want to slow it down against teams like Hayward and Castro Valley. Freshman forward Brandon Ashley looks like the next superstar of the HAAL.
3. San Leandro (4-2, 1-1 HAAL) - The Pirates played their first week with senior guard Jared Cunningham battling the flu. San Leandro got past Tennyson without him, but couldn’t get by Castro Valley with him not being 100 percent. The Pirates have started fast and finished slow the last few seasons – even though that has been mainly because of injuries. But maybe an early HAAL loss will inspire this squad to finish strong.
4. Hayward (4-2, 2-0 HAAL) - I hate to put such an experienced and solid team all the way down at the fourth slot, but the HAAL is stacked. The Farmers can definitely play with any of the top three that I have listed, though. Davion Berry starts out strong and Jabril Nasir is another name to remember. Keith Martin gives the Farmers a bit of an inside prescence and he hits the boards hard. Farmers coach Iman Mattox definitely gets it all out of these kids every night and I expect them to get a few wins against the teams I have ranked above them.
5. Tennyson (5-6, 0-2 HAAL) – Sophomore Hameed Ali is another young star in the league. There certainly isn’t a lack for young talented athletes in the HAAL this year. Tennyson had to open with San Leandro and Bishop O’Dowd and lost both games, but this Lancers squad has a solid chance at reaching the Division II playoffs.
6. San Lorenzo (4-3, 0-1 HAAL) – I am not very familiar with the Rebels yet, but I briefly seen them play against the Trojans. I couldn’t gauge much just because Castro Valley is on another level, but I did see a few promising shooters for the Rebels.
7. Mt. Eden (3-8, 1-1 HAAL) - It took overtime to knock off a very young Moreau Catholic team, but the Monarchs got the win. That’s why they are one slot ahead of the Mariners.
8. Moreau Catholic (0-8, 0-1 HAAL) – The Mariners are playing with a seniorless squad and are going to have a ton of growing pains this season. But Moreau will be able to compete with San Lorenzo, Mt. Eden and Arroyo this season.
9. Arroyo (0-5, 0-1 HAAL) – Another team that has struggled due to a ton of coaching changes over the recent years and have seemed to be going through a youth movement for the last three years. But I think the Dons finally have the coach they want and in a few years will be back on track.