Despite a high departure rate through graduation, high expectations still abound for this year’s edition of the Los Alamitos Boys basketball team which begins its 2012-13 season this week with action at the Cerritos/Gahr Tournament.
The high expectations should be no surprise for a program that has won nine straight Sunset League championships (and fifteen in the last sixteen years), not to mention two CIF-SS championships, despite having to reload many times in that process.
Coach Eddie Courtemarche, who as a player was part of three of those championship teams (1998-99, 99-2000, 2000-01) begins his third year as the head coach of the Griffins, and brings back six seniors, led by three-year Varsity guard Wes Mitter and co-captains Paul Kadletz and James Noble.
Mitter, a three-year member of the Varsity, has been one of the school’s top three-point shooters, but will have to assume most of the point guard duties as well this season. Although playing a limited role in the Griffins’ small, up-tempo system last season, the 6-6 Kadletz got lots of valuable experience that should pay dividends this year, and Noble always turned in great defense coming off the bench, as did guard Darren Kusmoto. The latter two will be expected to apply constant pressure on the opponents top offensive players this year.
Filling out the expected starting five is junior Captain Khalid Washington who Courtemarche expects to have a breakout year — no surprise after the lanky guard-forward showing poise and performance in crucial moments last year, especially with points from the baseline.
Other seniors who should see plenty opportunities to earn more playing time in Courtemarche’s up-tempo frequent-subbing system are Nathan Wakamoto and Joey Castro. Juniors in the same position are Chris Powelson, Devin Pagett, Bryan Igboke, Tyler Huesca, and Derrick Worthy, who brings his scrappy defensive back skills to the basketball court. Pagett should also see action at the point guard slot. He is the son of former Griffin great Brett Pagett (1988 Sunset League Player of the Year, and starting guard at the University of Washington) and his grandfather is longtime SoCal area basketball coach Dana Pagett.
Courtemarche also has high hopes for three standout underclassmen — 6′-3″ sophomores Ryan Kusch and Matt Locher and freshman Eyassu Worku. Locher, a starting linebacker on the football team, should establish a presence in the middle while Kusch gets up and down the court well and plays strong defense. Worku, one of the very few freshmen to ever be carried on the Griffin Varsity roster, is expected to contribute with his floor vision, quickness and ability to shoot. But he will most likely benefit from being around the day to day coaching of Courtemarche and assistant coach Cary Kutzke. Courtemarche was one of the Griffins top point guards during his playing tenure at Griffin-ville, while Kutzke, was a standout point guard and scorer at Warren High School and college in the Denver area. He also toured with some pro teams for a short while. He has been a volunteer coach on the bench for all nine of the Griffin’s current championship run and was the head coach during the one-year interim when Russ May left and before Courtemarche returned to the school.
November 3rd marked the unofficial opening of the 2012-2013 Los Alamitos boys basketball season with the Griffins’ annual Tip-Off Event. The evening began with families and players sharing food and folklore and was punctuated by the introduction of the program’s four teams on the hardwood of the newly renovated gymnasium.
The Varsity boys held an intra-squad scrimmage on November 10th, simulating game situations during three high-energy eight-minute periods. Afterward, Varsity Head Coach Eddie Courtemarche commented, saying, “Overall, philosophically, I was pleased.” He said, “I’d give us a B,” then added, “Eighty-six and a half!”
The Varsity Griffins begin their season with the Cerritos/Gahr Tournament at Cerritos High School from November 26th through December 1st. Their first home game is 7pm on Friday, December 7th, against Canyon High School (Anaheim) in the new gymnasium that showcases new seats, fantastic lights and a new A/V system that incorporates videos shown on dual screens. The Varsity boys will use the 2012 KSA Events Holiday Basketball Tournament in Orlando, Florida, from December 27th through January 1st as their final tune-up before their first Sunset League game at home on January 4th at 7pm against Marina High School. There will be plenty of moments to cheer in 2012-2013, so come out and support all four teams and continue the tradition of making the Home of the Griffins the loudest, most difficult venue for opposing teams to visit!
For more information on the teams, schedules and personal player ads, visit GriffinHoops.com. For information on video advertising opportunities (new this year) and booster club contributions, email GriffinHoops@Yahoo.com.