Boys Basketball: Start of league has a great feel to it

The last time I was in the Temple City High School gymnasium was roughly eight years ago. It was my first assignment as a cub reporter working as a correspondent for the Star-News. I was 17-years-old at the time. I was scared, nervous and excited all at the same time. I remember waking up the next morning at 6 a.m. to get a copy of the Star-News. At the time I lived in Alhambra and I had to walk from my house on Fifth Street and Ramona Rd. to the nearest newsstand which was near Garfield and Valley Blvd. It was a long walk but worth it. I saw my first byline on page 2 and I felt like I was on top of the world. The game was Temple City vs. Workman, I believe. When I was moving out of my mom’s house the first time around, I found the tape recorder where I did my first interview. I almost cried thinking of how nervous I was conducting my first interview. My how time goes by.

Walking into the Temple City High gym last Friday brought back a lot of memories. In fact, I sat just where I did the very first time, center court behind the score’s table.

I watched my first league game, this being Temple City vs. Blair in the Rio Hondo League opener. Nothing beats the start of league. You can tell by the excitement that fills the gym minutes before tipoff. I gotta hand it to both cheerleading squads who actually cheered. The crowd was boisterous and the game was exciting to cover.

The Rams won, 53-48, behind James Chen’s game-high 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal. The Rams are much better than advertised. They have a core of players, including Leo Chu, who have a soft touch from mid to long-range. Temple City can play the half court well and use their lack of stature to its advantage with speed and precise passing. More impressive, the Rams held Deon Geary to just seven points, well below his 19.7 ppg average.

Blair looked raw at times but showed glimpses of running a fast tempo offense. Katorio Walker will be fun to watch. Dude is only a sophomore a senior and already is 6-foot-7. He’s lanky but if he can build some muscle to the frame he can become one of the better players in the area. He missed all his shots in the first half but finished with 12 points. The Vikings have the capability to drive inside and create scoring opportunities but for whatever reason couldn’t buy a basket in the first half.

Temple City coach Rich Hollinger said opening league with a victory was nice but the first half of the league season will be the real challenge and keeping the same intensity game after game will be key.

After watching four of the six teams in league, here’s my prediction for order of finish in the Rio Hondo League:

1. La Caada
2. Temple City
3. Blair
4. Monrovia
5. South Pasadena
6. San Marino

I know, I know. Here come all the e-mails/comments.

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