2016-2017 Orange County High School Boys Basketball Season Recap
There weren’t many things that could be considered a constant in the 2016-17 Orange County basketball scene. South County teams, especially the South Coast League, beat up on one-another game-in and game-out; the OGP Top 25 fluctuated week-by-week with
a few teams moonlighting in the top 10 before being ousted with a tough loss; but, for the most part, our preseason league championship predictions held true.
- Esperanza won the Crestview League behind a huge senior campaign from Kezie Okpala.
- Sonora got the most out of a cohesive unit to win the Freeway League. Raiders coach Mike Murphy was named OGP Coach of the Year.
- The junior duo of Mehkel Harvey and Paul Head led Ocean View to another Golden West League title.
- The Franklin brothers, Myles and Julien, used their inherent rapport to propel Villa Park to the top of the North Hills League.
- Capistrano Valley’s bevy of talented juniors, led by Dawson Baker, made a perfect run in the Sea View League
- Edison and Los Alamitos battled it out to a pure tie in the Sunset League, each defeating the other at home, finishing with a 9-1 mark in league play.
- Mater Dei picked up yet another wire-to-wire Trinity League title.
The league titles that deviated from the predictions came in the Empire, Pacific Coast, Orange Coast and South Coast Leagues.
- Tustin coach Ringo Bossenmeyer orchestrated another brilliant coaching job in leading the Tillers to the Empire League championship.
- Dennis Rodman, Jr. and Kevin Kobrine established themselves as two of the top players in Orange County in leading Corona del Mar to the top of the Pacific Coast League.
- Ramon Lopez-Felix and Bryan Rivera paced Godinez to a 10-0 mark in Orange Coast League play and its second league crown in the last three years.
- Blake Birmingham put together a stellar season for San Clemente to drive the Tritons to the South Coast League title.
There was one constant when looking back on the Top 10 and Top 25 rankings, which has been evident for most of the last 30-plus years, and that was Mater starting and finishing as the top team in the county. The Monarchs opened the season atop the Open
Gym Premier rankings and poised to win yet another Trinity League championship for obvious reasons. They returned a core that included four starters in Spencer Freedman, Justice Sueing, Harrison Butler and Michael Wang from a team that went 27-5. Mater
Dei was cruising along with a 21-1 record mid-way through Trinity League play when they made a large addition to the roster in 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol and the rest is history. The second-tier of OC hoops included a nice mix of public school and private
school teams. Esperanza was able to play its way behind Mater Dei at the No. 2 spot toward the end of the season thanks to a massive year from OGP Player of the Year Kezie Okpala. The Stanford-signee averaged more than 30 points and 10 rebounds for the
Aztecs which finished the regular season with a 25-1 record and a berth in the prestigious CIF-SS Open Division playoffs. Santa Margarita, led by a talented starting five in Jake Kyman, Adrease Jackson, Kaden Rasheed, Pearson Parker and Jordan Guest,
finished second in the Trinity League behind Mater Dei, as expected. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 20-6 overall record, earning them a ticket into the Open Division playoffs where they defeated Esperanza in the first round, proving to
be the rightful owners of the “Second Best in OC” title. Trey Smith had another explosive year in the scoring column, averaging 27.3 points per game while battling through injuries. Smith’s performance, along with major contributions from Jon Scherer,
Jonah Tolmaire, Jordan Taylor, Nick Andrews, Trey Mena and Josh Crutchfield, helped the Warriors crack the Top 5. Sonora tapped into its experience and toughness with Kevin Marlow, Austin Carter, Lucas Everett, Bryce Rutledge and Sean Murphy to remain
in the Top 10 each of the 12 weeks it was published. Randall Walker engineered an impressive senior year for Edison. The 6-foot-2 combo guard averaged 23 points for the season, including 45, 38 and 39-point performances against Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos
and Huntington Beach, respectively. JSerra was led by first-team All-OGP selection Sebastian Much, and when it added transfers Joel Mensah, Kevin White and JT Robinson, the Lions turned it up a notch, earning a berth into the Open Division playoffs.
The third-tier of Orange County’s top teams is where the most variation took place. Villa Park, with the loss of Evan Battey, began the season on the outside looking in. Leave it to Myles and Julien Franklin to play the Spartans into the top 10. Los
Alamitos got off to a rocky start which dropped them into the 10-15 range, but pulled it together late behind Jacob Eyman and Joe Riley, earning a share of the Sunset League crown. Capistrano Valley was another wire-to-wire team ranked in the Top 10,
and with all of the talented juniors returning next year, the Cougars should expect a similar season.