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San Pedro senior Ian Hietala (left) and Mary Star senior Sarah Leyba. (photos by Jamaal K. Street)

The 2019-2020 San Pedro prep basketball season been in full swing since late November, and all six combined boys and girls teams from San Pedro, Mary Star of the Sea and Port of Los Angeles high schools are looking to make potential runs in the postseason, while the boys and girls teams of Mary Star both have the most optimistic chances of winning a league championship. Who will make the biggest shot of them all?

MARY STAR – Mary Star’s all-time leading scorer Joseph Octave is no longer around, but the Stars and fourth-year coach Mike Sestich aren’t void of talent.

Testing themselves early in tournament play against several talented teams has Mary Star off to a current 9-11 season, but the two-time defending Santa Fe League co-champions still stand a good chance of winning the league crown outright if they can thwart fellow two-time defending co-champion Salesian and heavily improved St. Pius X/St. Matthias Academy.

The All-Santa Fe League senior guard tandem of Adrian Alvarez and Aaron Martinez leads the way, while senior forward Henner Joseph will play a more prominent role in the starting lineup alongside them. An up-tempo style is still what Sestich prefers for Mary Star, even with 6’10” international transfer from Sudan, center Yel Deng now in the mix. Another Star primed to break out is senior G/F Chandler Blackwell.

SAN PEDRO – Longtime prep boys basketball head coach John Bobich, owner of seven CIF titles (five at Pacific Hills and two at San Pedro) is now in his 19th season for the Pirates, who placed third in the Marine League and reached the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 1 quarterfinal last season.

All-Marine League senior guard Ian Hietala has shown the capability of making the difficult shots more consistently for the Pirates, currently off to a 13-7 season. San Pedro inherits a young team that still has experience with the likes of Hietala, junior forward Robby DiStefano, senior guard Jerad Braff and senior guard Jackson Wimberly, a 5’9” slasher with leaping ability. Wimberly dunked in the Pirates’ season-opening 78-60 win at Bravo Medical Magnet on November 25.

Jackson’s brother, sophomore guard Boston Wimberly has been a key new addition, as has freshman guard Anthony Hrboka.

POLA – Now in his third season as coach, Spenser Schulte has high hopes for the Polar Bears, who made another appearance in the CIF-LACS Division 4 playoffs.

With powerhouses Washington Prep and King-Drew Medical now in the Coliseum League, chances of capturing an Imperial League title dramatically increased, but Jordan of Los Angeles appears to be the favorite, plus the Polar Bears still must deal with rival Harbor Teacher Prep.

Senior guard Devin DeLozier, junior guard Victor Alvarado, senior forward Elijah Hardy, and senior guard Delevar Lorica are the key players for POLA, while senior forward Micah Wilkes has been a great help.

MARY STAR – Last year was very good for the Stars and seventh-year coach Victor Tuberosi, as they made two distinctive postseason runs, reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 5-AA semifinals once again, and even reaching the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern California Division 5 Regionals.

And so far, the Stars are off to a 12-7 start, reaching the finals of the Downey Calvary Chapel Tournament and winning the St. Monica Tournament.

Now the Stars have higher hopes of trying to win a league championship for the first time since 1984, but will have to defeat both defending Santa Fe League champion St. Genevieve and St. Pius X/St. Matthias Academy for those dreams to become reality.

Mary Star returns most of their players from last year’s history-making squad, including the likes of All-CIF selection junior guard Isabella Serrano, senior forward and two-sport athlete Sarah Leyba, and two more junior guards Kaitlyn Oasay and Cristina Camacho.

Senior forward Jenna Miloe and two talented freshmen in guards Bella Marconi and Paula Serrano (Isabella’s sister) are also critical to the Stars’ recipe for success.

SAN PEDRO – Kevin Simpson takes over the coaching spot for the Lady Pirates, who have been brutally tested facing top-notch teams in the early going. Yet, San Pedro will look to turn the corner in what looks like a more competitive Marine League, which still has Narbonne as the prohibitive favorite.

Junior center Gianna Dileva, senior forward Stormy Carter, and junior guard Courtney Marshall have carried most of the workload for the Lady Pirates. All-Marine League senior power forward Adri’yanna Edmonds returned at the start of Marine League play on January 15 and has been an even more dangerous post presence.

San Pedro reached the CIF-LACS Division 2 quarterfinals last season.

POLA – The Polar Bears reached the CIF-LACS Division 4 playoffs last season and will be paced by senior point guard Annie Le, along with the duo of senior forward Kaylen Scott and freshman guard Sasha Suggs; the latter two are familiar to everyone else at the San Pedro-based charter school campus.

Scott and Suggs both played massive roles in pacing the POLA girls volleyball team to the 2019 CIF-LACS Division 4 championship in November. In fact, Scott was the 2019 CIF-LACS Division 4 Player of the Year, and Suggs was also an All-City Division 4 selection. spt


photo of san pedro today author Jamaal k Street

Jamaal K. Street

Jamaal K. Street has been writing sports articles and features for San Pedro Today magazine since September 2013. His main objective is spreading the good news of high school sports all over San Pedro, California. Street is also a public address announcer and plays organ/keyboard at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in San Pedro.