After finishing second in its own season-opening basketball tournament the St. Monica boys team is looking ahead to future challenges.
St. Monica will play in the St. Anthony Tournament this week, then will compete in the Sea Hawk Classic in Redondo.
Opponents at St. Anthony will be of similar size to St. Monica. Whitney, which St. Monica defeated in its event, is on the schedule again. Then it will be Animo Leadership of Inglewood and CAMES.
However, larger schools will be opponents at Redondo, which caused St. Monica coach Tony Depa to say “this is a big step for us.”
The non-league games will prepare St. Monica for the Camino Real League, which traditionally has several strong teams.
Since Depa has been at St. Monica the Mariners have usually maneuvered through the schedule to earn a CIF playoff berth. That’s the goal again, although St. Monica has been moved by the CIF to a higher division. Early indications are the Mariners will be a factor once league games begin.
Depa is counting on several veteran players to lead the way – Ryan Capiro, Richard Gibson, Ryan Featherston, an d Danny White.
Featherston, the guard, is the leading scorer so far with nearly 17 points per game and White is an all-league defensive back in football.
The team began its season by easily winning three games, then lost in the championship game of the St. Monica Tournament Thursday night.
St. Monica defeated Environmental Charter of Hawthorne, 87-45, Lennox Academy, 71-30 and Whitney, 63-41 before losing to Bellarmine-Jefferson of Burbank, 80-57.
There are plans to improve facilities at St. Monica, including a major improvement of the gym. That would be a historic occasion, for the current one has housed some outstanding players and teams, going back to the days of Leon Wood, who later played in the NBA and is now an NBA referee.
The gym creates a rare home-court advantage, with fans hovering above one basket in a balcony. It is regarded as one of the loudest gyms among all Southern California high schools.
It is believed financing is well along and construction may begin shortly after the current basketball season ends.