Boys Hoops: Bonita is No. 1 in the Valley, but the private schools have the best postseason chances

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
When the CIF-Southern Section boys basketball playoffs begin next month, La Verne Lutheran (12-7) figures to be the area team with the best chance of winning a division title, its second in three years. The Trojans are on top of the Division 5-AA poll with Windward and Flintridge Prep the only legitimate contenders. The rest of the Valley, however, may find it difficult in the new playoff divisions, except for the area’s other private schools. (To continue reading, click thread)

Bonita (18-3) is having a sensational year and cruising toward a Miramonte League title, but the Bearcats only are No. 8 in Division 3-A, with powers Serra, Compton Centennial, Harvard-Westlake and Campbell Hall, all private schools except for Centennial, dominating the poll’s top four spots.

Bearcats coach Greg Eckler thought it was tough last year when Harvard-Westlake cruised to the division title, but adding Centennial, Serra and Campbell Hall to the division along with the existing parity is disheartening.

“It is,” Eckler said. “I went through a period where I was excited because we’re playing well, I like what we had coming back, then when the first polls came out early in the season we were number 12 and that was probably a fair ranking at the time.

“It’s just a brutal division. I love the challenge of taking on these great teams, but at the same time you just scratch your head. Why are you competing against all these powerful private schools? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Teams in the same league also don’t necessarily compete in the same playoff divisions, which bodes well for a school like Bishop Amat (16-5).

Bishop Amat is No. 3 in Division 4-AA behind Price and Orange Lutheran, with Northview ranked No. 10 and San Dimas No. 12.

Bishop Amat competes against Serra in the Del Rey League, and the Lancers were crushed by the Cavaliers, 73-54, a couple weeks ago. But the Lancers won’t have to face the Cavaliers in the playoffs.

Serra could face Bonita as early as the second round.

“It’s hard to make sense of it all,” Eckler said. “I thought competitive equity would be more of a factor, but when you look at all the divisions the one we’re in is one of the best in the (Southland).

“Figure that out.”

Because of enrollment, private schools like Bishop Amat and Damien have a clear advantage. Damien (14-6) finished fifth in the Sierra League last year but still advanced to the semifinals of Division 2A before losing to eventual champion, Eisenhower, 48-45.

Damien is ranked No. 6 in 2-A this year, but with Pasadena and Keppel at nos. 2 and 3, respectively, the Spartans have a good shot of advancing deep into the playoffs again.

Bonita might be the top-ranked team in the Valley, but the only schools with legitimate chances of deep playoff runs seem to be the area private schools.

Baldwin Park (18-2) is having its best season in school history, but the Braves are only No. 9 in Division 2A, a few spots behind Damien.

“We keep talking about putting private and public schools in different divisions,” Eckler said. “At some point it needs to happen.” 626-736-5442

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  • Aaron

    First of all congratulations to coach Greg Eckler on his continued success and his team being where they are today. I don’t know much Bonita basketball lore but I’m sure he is or will be the winningest Basketball coach in my Alma Mater’s history.

    Keep it going Bearcats and earn it!

  • recruit?

    so , Bonita has all in district kids, unlike SH or CO or Glendora?…..Damien and Bishop Amat have fewer male students than Bonita, it’s not like they are playing Mater Dei…….now those guys recruit endlessly! I mean BB has what 18 divisions, is everybody suppose to be a “champion”, get real coach, beat some real good teams, earn it!

  • Basic


    Did I miss something there “recruit?”???

    I am sure Bonita has some kids transfer in however, these are not due to sports, if anything Bonita looses kids all the time to play for any of the programs you just mentioned in any and every sport. Pod’s big speech always is “we don’t recruit like some schools” Hey Pod how about we try to keep our own kids and not LOOSE kids to these schools, had to get my rant in there.

    So Recruit, I am not sure what you are trying to say but as for the number of male students, Bonita is at what 1900 total kids so 900 boys? are these numbers not like Damien or Amat??? BTW those two school do recruit or at least attract better athletes, so again I am not sure what you are trying to say here???

    Now as far as coaching, he does get them to win so fine I will give him that but come on all that screaming and slamming of the clip board, really, is that good coaching???

  • Math Whiz

    Basic – Amat has 1300+ kids and over half are girls. Do the math

  • winning coach

    He may win a lot of games but does not win many friends with his players or fans.

  • Basic


    Math is done and I guess that gives Bonita 300 more boys or there about…hummm given that BA is more athletically inclined, therefore has more athletically gifted kids, I don’t see Bonita having any type of advantage, specially since we do loose so many athletes to the schools named above….So can you now try to explain what recruit or you, are trying to say???

  • bonitafan

    winning coach,

    I’m a fan of coach eckler!


  • Don

    To: Greg Eckler
    From: Don
    Re: Recruiting

    Next time you are out recruiting all of that talent you bring in from outside the BUSD could you look for some of those real tall guys like the other teams have?

    I mean, I enjoy that hustle, defense, positioning, conditioning thing you win with as much as the next guy but everyone else seems to have a few really tall guys dunking in warm-ups and stuff.

    Just a thought.

  • Aaron

    Don do you always have to do that…lighten the mood with a joke? Good stuff and keep it coming.

    As far as Eckler not making friends of players and fans, he’s intense as a coach, but as a teacher he’s a really awesome guy. He just lives and breath’s basketball, he’s also still able to play which allows him to teach the game extremely well.

    Just remember that his standards are high for everything, to play his brand of defense you have to have speed and endurance, players to properly play his defense have to run under six minutes on the mile.

  • soberman

    great article.enjoyed reading the bb scoop.good job
    you hated saying bonitas number 1. hah fred ,it hurt because right next to it came the story of the little 12-7 other team in the home town.we would crush, the trojans

  • crush??

    Crush…haha the Trojans. Guess we will never know?? Bonita #1 and congrats to them, but we will never know who is really #1 in the area. If it is really a public vs. private issue, than why does Bonita play Damien and elect to not play Lutheran?? Or choose not to play in the playoffs vs. the other private schools who they believe they are unfairly matched with…??? It is just weird to me that Fred would have a team so highly favored to win a title and not mention them in the top 10. Is that not weird to anyone else? I mean Lutheran’s losses have been to ranked teams and not been anywhere near 30 pt losses, yet he includes teams of this claiber in his top 10. Someone is getting paid not to include the Trojans or there is some other hidden story going on that we don’t know about. Surprised that we haven’t heard anything from Fred…are you there, Fred??

  • COChargerfan

    Just wondering, when do the new rankings come out?