By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
La Verne Lutheran High School, best known for its back-to-back state champion boys basketball teams, will drop out of the Arrowhead League and go independent in all sports, pending CIF-Southern Section approval. The school, which boasts an enrollment of about 150 students, has decided to make the move because several of its sports programs have not been competitive in the Arrowhead League, and its boys basketball team has been simply too good.
“I think it wasn’t really good for the kids in our league, and it wasn’t really good for us because every night it was tough,” boys basketball coach Eric Cooper said. “It was like how do you want to play? Do you want to just back off. Do you want to let the teams make shots and try to make it a close game. There was never a real good way for it to come out OK on our part or the competition’s part.
“For us, the best thing was for us to move on. Now, for the rest of the school, it was a different problem. Our girls teams hadn’t won a game in three years in any sport. When you look at all of our other sports, nobody has done well and now they’ll be able to schedule teams that are to their level. And for our sport, it’s the same thing. We’ll be able to schedule teams to our level.”
Becoming independent means that Lutheran’s boys basketball team is looking for up to 14 games next season, and Cooper is hoping to fill some or all with local teams.
It’s easy to see why the move was necessary.
Lutheran had winning margins in league games this season as high as 90 and 87 points. Four Arrowhead League schools couldn’t even crack 20 against Lutheran.
CIF approval is all but a formality and to make the postseason next year, the Trojans will have to apply for an at-large bid if they win 50 percent or more of their games with a minimum of a 20-game schedule. Once accepted to the playoffs, CIF will determine which division and seeding best fits the Trojans.
Los Angeles Price, another Southland boys basketball power with a small enrollment, is also independent. Like Price, Lutheran likely will have to search far and wide to find games to make up its schedule. But that could also produce some good matchups.
While the boys basketball team searches to fill its schedule, the school’s other teams won’t have to scramble. Lutheran’s other sports teams still will play their Arrowhead League schedule next season but won’t be eligible to win the league.