By Michael Bower
The Palomar League is loaded with new faces across the board.
The only underclassmen returning from the All-Palomar League teams is Poway High guard Derek Babiash.
Rancho Bernardo lost its leading scorers Richie Orlins, Michael Pierick and Shane Brown. The Broncos return just three players — no starters.
That means the race to the league title is as wide open as it has been in some time, although, Torrey Pines is considered the favorite by many.
“There really is no outright No. 1 team,” Titans coach Aaron Little said. “There are a lot of new faces in the league. Last year, the league was incredibly senior heavy. I think it will be pretty wide open this season. I like to believe that we will be in the mix for a league title, but it definitely is a mystery this year.”
Del Norte has plenty of familiar faces over in the Valley League. The squad returns a majority of its roster and expects to compete for a league title.
Maranatha Christian will be playing its first season in the Pacific League.
Here is a closer look at each local team:
Aaron Little, 7th year
19-11, eliminated in first round of Division I playoffs.
PG, Tom Erb, Jr.; G, Derek Babiash, Sr.; G, Brandon Dumas, Sr.; G, Tyler Green, Jr.; C, Dalton Soffer, Soph.
Opponents can throw out those scouting tapes from a season ago because the Titans have a completely new look this season. After the graduation of 6-foot-10 Sam Beeler, who earned a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, Poway’s offense will have to take a different approach.
A smaller and less experienced lineup could lead to some early struggles for Poway, but Little is hoping the team can mesh by the start of the new year.
“We are going to be a work in progress,” Little said. “A lot of new faces and guys trying to learn how hard it is to win at the varsity level, but I think we have a lot of upside. We are going to be completely different from last year. At times, we could have five guards on the floor at once.”
That usually translates into an up-tempo offense and pressure, trapping defense. But that will depend on how quick the inexperienced players can adjust to the varsity level. One guy returning with starting varsity experience is point guard Erb. He should be the floor leader out there along with Babiash, the only All-Palomar League player returning from the entire league.
The Titans do not have the one dominating player so the leading scorer could change from game-to-game.
“We will not have that 20-25 point guy,” Little said. “We are hoping to have several 10-12 point guys. I like it that way because if one guy has an off night, other guys can step up.”
Jim Choe, 5th year
12-17, eliminated in first round of Division I playoffs.