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Some big shoes to fill

Top area teams must fill void left by talented graduating class.

November 25, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Renaissance Academy boys' basketball Coach Sid Cooke talks to his players.
Renaissance Academy boys' basketball Coach Sid… (Cheryl A. Guerrero,…)

GLENDALE — You could form a pretty lethal basketball team just from the list of all-league, and in some cases All-CIF, players who graduated from the four area boys' teams that made the CIF playoffs last season.

Flintridge Prep will forge on without its four-year starting backcourt of Edmund Chow and Jonathan Woo, while Crescenta Valley lost its pair of aces in the post, Coltrane Powdrill and Nick Dragovich.

Renaissance Academy is a vastly different team without its Big Three of Gil Tacita, Dushon Carter and Bryan Bourgeoise and St. Francis bid farewell to standout guard Tommy Jordan.

These teams will be going in a new direction for the 2010-11 season personnel-wise, but not exactly with the mindset of starting over, as the hope among all is that a younger wave of players will be able to step in and quickly provide some continued stability.

Renassiance went the farthest in the area last season, advancing to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V-A playoffs. They also lost the most, as senior point guard Ed Burrows and junior center Jessy Cantinol are the only returning varsity starters, with junior guard Troy Fontinilla also back. Other than that, the Wildcats have a lineup consisting of underclassmen, first-time varsity players and transfers.

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"It's going to be interesting, it might be tough," said Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke, who likes the potential of his new additions. "Ed's going to be really the guy to keep it in line and run things."

Also different for Renaissance this year is its transition from freelance status into being a member of the Harbor League, which includes Division VI-A champion Ribet Academy. The Wildcats have not been affiliated with a league since going 8-0 to win the American League title in the 2005-06 season.

"It was hard to motivate guys all the way through [the season]," Cooke said of the days when his team simply had to amass enough quality regular-season wins to qualify as an at-large playoff team. "Now we play Ribet the last game of the year at their place and maybe it will be for a league championship. It's good because this group has never played for a league championship, so it will be something new. Maybe we'll get more respect as far as CIF seeding."

St. Francis will try to qualify for the Division III playoffs for the second year in a row and, although it will have to do so without its best overall player from last season, co-Coach Ray O'Brien feels the team is well-equipped to sustain its progress.

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