Marauders look to bring home Conference title

The 2017-2018 season is around the corner and it appears the Western State East Conference is going to be a race to pay attention to. Antelope Valley, Citrus and Barstow all made the post season a year ago and Antelope Valley made an appearance at the Elite Eight losing to San Francisco. Citrus made a solid showing last season and came within one game of the Elite Eight losing to Conference foe Antelope Valley to make the trip to the Elite Eight. Barstow picked up a first round win before losing to Fullerton in the 2nd round. Glendale, Los Angeles Valley, and Victor Valley will look to improve this season and make a move towards the upper half of conference after missing the post season a year ago.


 

Antelope Valley (22-11 overall, 6-4 3rd place in Western State East Conference): Last season, Antelope Valley was our preseason number one team in Southern California and the Marauders started off the season losing four of their first five games. The Marauders got on track and won 15 of their next 17 games and had some momentum going into Western State East Conference action. Antelope Valley struggled mid way through conference action as well but caught fire right before the start of the post season. Antelope Valley picked up a 14 seed in the post season and picked up three road victories en route to a final eight appearance before losing to San Francisco City. The Marauders will look to build upon last years post season success and have a solid 2017-2018 season.

Returnees: The Marauders will return four players from last seasons squad that won 22 games and made an appearance at the Elite 8 before losing to San Francisco. “6-3” DMauria Jones returns to the Marauders after a solid freshman season. Jones averaged 11.4 points and 3.2 rebounds last season in his freshman campaign and the sophomore is expected to have another solid season for the Marauders. Another impact player returning for the Marauders is “6-4” Osi Nwachukwu, the sophomore averaged 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds last season in his freshman campaign. The wing has the ability to change the game in multiple ways and will be a solid player in the Western State East Conference. “6-2” Myles Wise (1.9 points), and “6-8” Jesse Burns (2.2 points) both return to Antelope Valley for the upcoming season.

Newcomers: The Marauders have some solid pieces coming into the season as Antelope Valley will look to make a solid run at the conference championship this season. “6-8” sophomore transfer Jamar Kemp will provide a front court banger and his versatility will help out the Marauders this upcoming season. “5-9” Gabe Solache a transfer from College of the Desert will bring experience to the back court this upcoming season. “6-8” Greg Floyd (Middlebrooks Prep) is a freshman that is expected to have a standout season as the wing has caught the attention from four year schools as he stood out at the showcase in September. “6-0” Julian Payton (Hill Crest HS) is another player that is expected to have a standout season for the Marauders. “6-4” Angelo Solis (Burroughs HS) is also expected to contribute for Antelope Valley this season.

Projection: Antelope Valley will look to have an improved season within the Western State East Conference as the Marauders finished in 3rd place last season. This season the Marauders return a solid core of players from last seasons elite eight team and have some newcomers that should put the Marauders in good position to have a standout season. Antelope Valley should compete for the conference championship and they are our favorites to win the Western State East Conference for the 2017-2018 season.


 

Citrus (24-7 overall, 8-2 tied for 1st place in Western State East Conference): Last season, Citrus was a team that had a standout season as first year head coach Brett Lauer and company won 24 games. Citrus picked up a share of the conference championship and was one game away from making an appearance at the Elite Eight. The Owls had a chance to win the Western State East Conference outright on the last game of the year, but Barstow picked up the win and the Owls ended up sharing the title with Barstow. Citrus will be a major player this upcoming season as the Owls return a solid core of players and should be a team that will contend for the Western State East Conference for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

Retrunees: The Owls will return five players from their Western State East Conference championship team. Leading the list of returnees from the conference champs is Jeremy Smith. The “6-0” sophomore led the team in scoring averaging 15.8 points last season. Smith shot 40% from downtown and also averaged 4.2 assists as a freshman. “6-4” Kyle Gray returns for the Owls as the sophomore averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds last season for Citrus. Gray scored a season high 20 points against Fresno and had a standout freshman year for the Owls. The sharp shooting Andrew Ammann returns to Citrus for his sophomore campaign. The “6-5” wing averaged 6.2 points last season and will look to contribute this season for Citrus. “6-7” Quintin Bailey (4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds), and “6-2” Alexios Ziska (3.5 points) will also bring sophomore experience for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

Newcomers: The Owls will have a couple of sophomore transfers coming in that will help for the upcoming season. “6-6” Austin Clarke will be a freshman for the upcoming season after redshirting at California Baptist last season. “6-3” Miles Crawford is coming in from Loyola Marymount and will bring athleticism to the back court for Citrus this season. “5-10” Decaurey Brown (Newark Memorial HS), and “6-9” Jesse Elrod (Maranatha HS) will also look to contribute as freshman for the Owls for the upcoming season.

Projection: Last season Citrus was a standout team in Southern California and the Owls were co champions of the Western State East Conference. This season it should not be any different as the Owls will be a standout team and make the post season. Citrus will be in the mix of a conference championship and the Owls should be near the top of the standings fighting with Antelope Valley for a conference championship this upcoming season.


 

Glendale (13-14 overall, 3-7 5th place in Western State East Conference): Last year Glendale struggled to find any consistency and found themselves finishing 13-14 and missing the post season. Glendale finished 3-7 in conference action and finished with a fifth place finish in the Western State East Conference. The Vaqueros will look to improve this season in a conference that saw three teams make the post season a year ago.

Returnees: The Vaqueros will return five players from last seasons team that won 13 games and finished 5th place in the Western State East Conference. “6-3” Serigne Athj returns back for his sophomore season after averaging 19.9 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. Athj shot 51% from the floor and the sophomore made 60 three pointers while shooting 44% from downtown. Athj is an elite scorer and had a season high of 44 points last season against Barstow in February. “5-11” Dominic Gully is another player that will return this season for the Vaqueros. Gully averaged 9.9 points and 2.4 rebounds last season as a freshman. “6-2” Jordan Matthews will also bring sophomore experience to the team as Matthews averaged in double figures a year ago. Matthews averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in his freshman season. “6-5” Frank Irowa (5.7 points) and “6-3” Richard Hollinger will both provide some sophomore depth for the Vaqueros this upcoming season.

Newcomers: Glendale will look to make a jump in the standings as the Vaqueros have some solid pieces coming into the new season. “6-1” Chris Daniels will add some sophomore experience as the guard comes in from Fresno City College for the upcoming season. “5-10” freshman Steven Hubbell comes in from California Lutheran University and will look to have an impact for the Vaqueros as well this season. “5-9” redshirt freshman Derrick Lockman , “6-2” Jazerie Hoggatts (Redondo Union HS), and “6-8” Aaron Yarnell will all come in as freshmen and look to contribute this upcoming season.

Projection: The 2017-2018 Glendale squad will look to make a push toward the upper half of conference this upcoming season. The Vaqueros return three solid pieces (Athj, Gully, and Matthews) and have a chance to have a solid season. Will they have enough to compete in the upper half of the conference? Our projection is the Vaqueros will be in the middle  of the conference but this is a team that can play with anyone in the conference with the returnees that they have coming back.


 

Victor Valley (4-21 overall, 0-10 6th place in Western State East Conference): Last season, Victor Valley had a disappointing winning four games all season and going without a win in Western State East Conference action. The Rams will look to find any type of consistency going into the new year. The Rams did not play well in conference as Victor Valley lost all ten games and will look to have a better season with some talented players coming in this season.

Returnees: After having a dismal season a year ago, the Rams will return two players back after posting four victories a year ago. “6-3” guard Tristan Angelo will be a standout player for the Rams this upcoming season after averaging 13.0 points last season. Angelo was second in the team in scoring a year ago and will look to have an impact season for the Rams. “6-5” Nathan Clark will also provide some sophomore experience for Victor Valley this upcoming season. Clark averaged 8.4 points last season for the Rams and will look to contribute and bring sophomore leadership this season.

Newcomers: Victor Valley will welcome in many new faces as the Rams will look to improve from last season. “6-10” sophomore Zach Christian (transfer Merritt JC), “7-0” William Brooks (transfer Tyler CC), “6-4” Michael Obi (Transfer Seminole CC), and “6-4” Aaron Hill (redshirt) will all provide sophomore experience to the Rams. “6-2” Jamain Owens is another transfer that should help Victor Valley, “6-6” Milan Taylor (Golden Valley HS), and “6-9” Leon Watson (JW North HS), will all look to contribute this upcoming season. The Rams have a lot of new talent coming into the 2017-2018 and should push them into the upper half of the Western State East Conference.

Projection: The Rams could be a team that could make some noise this season and could be one of the most improved teams this upcoming season. After winning 4 games a year ago, Victor Valley has a lot of players coming into the program that could be difference makers. If the chemistry gets going early, this could be a team that could challenge Citrus and Antelope Valley at the top of the standings. Victor Valley will be an improved team and we expect them to have a solid season and make a push for the post season.


 

Barstow (16-12 overall, 8-2 tied for 1st place in Western State East Conference): Last season was a season to remember for the Vikings as Barstow College won 16 games, made it to the post season and shared a piece of the Western State East Conference championship. The Vikings were a standout team in Southern California and earned a 17 seed in the post season. Barstow picked up a first round victory over San Diego Miramar and lost in the 2nd round to Fullerton after having a solid season. Barstow will look to have another standout season in 2017-2018.

Returnees: Barstow will look to have another solid season as the Vikings will return four players for the upcoming season. “6-3” sophomore guard Will Pierce leads the wave of returnees for the Vikings. Pierce averaged 7.1 points last season for the conference champions. “6-2” Clay Evans returns after averaging 8.8 points per contest last season. “6-10” Borja Soriano returns to the Vikings for his sophomore season as well. The big man from Spain averaged 10.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in his freshman campaign.  and “6-5” Jan Piechocki both return for the Vikings and will bring sophomore experience to the Vikings for the upcoming season.

Newcomers: The Vikings will welcome in some solid newcomers as the season approaches. “6-4” Ron Nezey will provide some sophomore leadership for the upcoming season. “5-8” Paul Vilela (Centennial HS), “6-1” Denzel Lipson (Columbus, OH), and “6-4” Jefferson Carver Locke will all be players expected to contribute for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

Projection: The defending co champs of the Western State East Conference will look to defend their championship but the Vikings lost a lot of experience from last seasons team. Barstow lost a lot of scoring from last years team and will look to stay competitive and compete to stay in the upper half of the conference. Barstow returns three key pieces and with that being said I think Barstow should stay competitive and finish in the upper half of the conference.


 

Los Angeles Valley (11-15 overall, 5-5 4th place in Western State East Conference): The Monarchs will look to have a better season than a year ago when Los Angeles Valley went 11-15 and finished 5th place in the Western State East Conference. It was tough to find consistency last season for the Monarchs and they failed to make the post season. Los Angeles Valley will look to have an improved season as the Monarchs will return four players for the upcoming season.

Returnees: The Monarchs return four players off last years team which won 11 games a year ago. “6-3” Dejwan Walker returns back for his sophomore season after averaging 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in his freshman campaign. Walker scored a season high of 28 points last season against Oxnard and will look to have another standout season for the upcoming season. “5-8” Chris Morataya returns after averaging 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Monarchs. “5-10” Brian Cabagnot and “6-0” Nick Howard return to the Monarchs and will look to contribute this season for the Monarchs this upcoming season.

Newcomers: Three newcomers are expected to contribute for the Monarchs this upcoming season. “6-8” Chris Hodge (Venice HS), “6-6” Samson Young (Birmingham HS), and “6-3” Elijah Bond are all expected to contribute this season for Los Angeles Valley College.

Projection: Will Los Angles Valley have enough to finish in the upper half of conference? The Monarchs will be a competitive team in the Western State East Conference but can they find a way to pick up wins against teams with size. The Monarchs finished in fourth place last season and time will tell how Los Angeles Valley will finish this upcoming season.


Top Returning players from last season in the Western State East Conference:

“6-3” D’Mauria Jones (Antelope Valley), “6-4” Osi Nwachukwu (Antelope Valley), “6-0” Jeremy Smith (Citrus), “6-4” Kyle Gray (Citrus), “6-3″ Dejwan Walker (Los Angeles Valley), “6-3” Will Pierce (Barstow), “6-3” Tristan Angelo (Victor Valley), “6-10” Borja Soriano (Barstow), “6-3” Serigne Athj (Glendale), “6-2” Jordan Matthews (Glendale), “6-3” Will Pierce (Barstow), “5-11” Dom Gulley (Glendale)

Western State East Conference Projection

1. Antelope Valley

2. Citrus

3. Victor Valley

4. Barstow

5. Glendale

6. Los Angeles Valley

It should be an interesting race in the Western State East Conference for the upcoming 2017-2018 season. Three teams were over .500 and three teams made the post season a year ago from the conference. Citrus came within one game of making the Elite Eight and Antelope Valley made a trip last season to Las Positas before losing to San Francisco. This season, as we take a deeper look into the 2017-2018 season, we think that Antelope Valley will bring home the conference championship. The Marauders have some solid back court players coming back and added some size and talented freshman to their equation. Citrus and Victor Valley appear to have talented teams and Citrus will try to defend its conference championship from a year ago. Victor Valley is a team that may surprise a lot of people, the Rams have a lot of size and have some solid players that should put them in the upper half of the Western State East Conference and we could possibly see them in the post season. Glendale and Barstow are also teams that may be in the upper half of the conference as well. Both teams return some solid pieces and should be competitive throughout the season and in conference as well. Los Angeles Valley is another team that should not be overlooked in conference action as the Monarchs return Dejwan Walker and will look to be competitive in the 2017-2018 season.