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Boys Basketball Preview: Teams you must keep an eye on

LARGE SCHOOLS

Beyer (11-17): The Patriots boast one of the District's top inside players in 6-foot-6 Bryan Garbez, but the backcourt remains a question mark. Beyer needs to establish a strong perimeter game, or Garbez will be double-teamed on a regular basis.

Buhach Colony (7-20): At the very least, count on the Thunder to be entertaining -- they have 85 points or more in three of their first five games. First-year coach John Bliss has a stud in G Hodari Peterson, and is counting on BC's depth to run the floor.

Davis (17-10): The Spartans have a gaping hole in the backcourt to fill with the graduation of MMC MVP Jose Blanco (21.3 ppg), who scored more than a third of the team's points. 6-2 forwards Lance Castaneda and Weston Toste must step up.

Downey (22-5): Four of five starters graduated after taking Knights to D-I quarterfinals. C Chris Kline is the holdover, though coach Doug Streeter typically relies on defense and crisp passing to get the most of his kids. This team is one of the big unknowns.

Enochs (3-24): It was a rough debut with an all-underclass team, but 6-8 Marcus Bell (11.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.4 blocks) is stronger and 6-0 G Tyler Wasden (10 ppg, 47 treys) is sharp from the perimeter. Eagles need a third scorer to step up.

Golden Valley (13-14): 6-5 F John Sykes (15 ppg, 9 rpg), who has a perimeter game and an inside game, and 6-1 G Alex Fletcher (11.3 ppg) are three-year starters. Look for 5-10 G Donte Scott (6 ppg) to score more by driving to the basket.

Los Banos (17-10): Tigers nearly beat Downey in last year's D-I playoff opener, and three starters return -- 6-0 G Rubal Sangha (11 ppg), 5-11 G Andrae Jones (10 ppg) and 6-2 F Tony Faria. Give the Tigers some time because of the football playoffs.

Manteca (12-15): VOL favorite with sophomore PG Kiwi Gardner (15 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.6 spg) back after a short stint at Central Valley. 6-3 F Nick Scheible, 6-4 F Dominique Barnes (7.9 rpg) give Buffs one of the best inside-out games in area.

Merced (20-9): UOP-bound Allen Huddleston was an all-Stanislaus District guard as a junior, averaging 25.4 points. 6-0 G/F Eddie Beavers and 6-4 F Kenny Cooper (7.8 rpg) complete a strong trio and have the Bears' favored to win the CCC.

Pitman (18-9): A D-II quarterfinalist last season, the Pride was hit hard by graduation. 6-4 Matt Lavender gives the team an inside threat, and coach Harvey Marable has high hopes for guards Jaspreet Basi and Edgar Lopez -- both can pop the 3.

Sierra (22-6): The only returners are 6-2 PG Christian Williams, an all-District underclass selection, and 6-4 F Chris Choate. Look for Williams to be one of the region's top scorers, as he has improved his shot beyond the 3-point arc.

Sonora (14-13): Fell short of expectations last season, but 6-5, 210-pound C Brenden Evans (17.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) should help team challenge for VOL title. Good backcourt with 6-0 Matt Relei and junior PG Vicente Navarro. Keep an eye on 6-4 soph G Alex Kiriluk.

Turlock (18-9): The 'Dogs have one of the top duos in 6-4 juniors Travis Souza (12.7 ppg) and Eric Wetzel. Rebounding won't be a problem, as the 'Dogs have seven players who stand 6-4 or 6-5. G Shane Kumar could be the pivotal third piece.


SMALL SCHOOLS

Amador (21-6): No team was hit harder by graduation -- 60 points per game are gone -- so give Buffs time to rebuild. Seven players are 6-4 or taller, so the inside game is sound. Good news is 6-3 sophomore G Clinton Tremelling returns.

Big Valley Christian (24-6): Lions need to account for loss of G Jared Lunsford (18 ppg). 6-7 C Tucker Richardson (2.7 spg, 1.7 blocks) will increase his scoring, and high expectations for junior G duo of Taylor Aderholt and Corey Wells.

Bret Harte (17-10): Graduation of C Brett Downey shifts scoring to 6-2 F Will Finn (5.3 ppg) and Tim Minton (5.7 ppg). 6-3 sophomore F Robby Bragg and 5-8 junior G Jacob Willis could have an early impact for the MLL contenders.

Denair (14-13): Coach Curtis Wooten has a rebuilding effort on his hands after losing all-District F Mason Wooten. 6-3 F Jared Wilcox gets the opportunity to become an inside scorer, but there are many question marks after that. 5-10 G Trent Hamilton also returns.

Central Catholic (19-10): Maybe it's not just a football school? 6-6 C Dan Hulst (8.7 pp, 8.9 rpg) and 6-4 Dusty Killian (7.1 rpg) are threats around the basket, and guards Matt Rios (2.1 spg) and Alex Case (1.9 spg) gained plenty of experience last season.

Livingston (16-12): It's worth a trip to watch 6-5 C Harnarinder Johal -- he scored 46 points against D-I Laguna Creek last week. Wolves are counting on 5-9 G Brian Rivera to spread the ball around, and they'll be shooting customary 3s.

Mariposa (23-5): All-District G Timmy Oswald is gone, so watch junior 6-6 C Cody Wichman (13.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg). 6-3 junior F Pierce Chaney was the top JV scorer and rebounder, while 6-3 F Cassius Camus and G Hank Northop are capable scorers.

Modesto Christian (29-5): Last season ended in the NorCal D-V final. This team could surpass that with all-state 6-8 F Reeves Nelson (26.1, 14 rpg) and the arrival of 6-1 G Liautaud Prophete, a slasher. Quality comes up from JV team as well.

Orestimba (10-14): Warriors won the Gustine Tournament to kick off their season, but the WAC is tough with Patterson, Central and Livingston. G Tyler Brasil is capable of scoring 25 when he's aggressive -- already has a high of 32.

Patterson (22-6): Defending WAC champ ready to win again with 6-1 PG Justin Nuckolls ( 9.6 ppg, 5 asp) on top, and 6-5 Felix Mapanda (13.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and 6-1 leaper Ronyea Ellington inside. Junior G Kent Foster is a key arrival.

Ripon (16-12): A trio of all-TVL guards -- Matt Ratto (11.5 ppg, 2.7 apg), PG Ryan Baker (9.5 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Efren Sifuentes (14 ppg) -- are joined by three frontcourt players who are 6-4. MC might be only team with a more difficult schedule.

Ripon Christian (6-21): The key is 6-7 junior C Tyler Goslinga, 6-5 F David Vander Schaaf (8.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and three other starters who arrive from a 20-6 JV team. Knights need to improve their defense, but should challenge for second in TVL.

Summerville (20-9): Coach Marlen Ronten is always going to provide an exciting team. Three sophomores -- 6-3 Zach Roberson, 5-9 Taylor Gold and 6-4 Tige Wingo -- join senior guards Blake Stephens (6-2), Cody Nelson (6-0) and Jake Hen (6-0).

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