By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Fans of the Glendora High School boys basketball team may get a late Christmas present this year with the expected return of standout Nick Colletta when the Tartans resume their season on Monday.
Colletta has been dealing with a back injury that’s limited him to just two games and very few practices since Nov. 1. The 6-foot-5 junior forward who led the Tartans in scoring last season may be back when the team starts the Century Tournament right after the holiday.
“The bad news is he’s been out for the better part of six weeks,” Glendora coach Mike LeDuc said. “He’s hopefully going to be released to start working out again right after Christmas, and if everything goes well he will hopefully be able to start playing again right after Christmas.”
If Colletta returns, the Tartans soon could be the healthiest they’ve been this season. Glendora has dealt with injuries at other key spots but managed to start the season with an 8-3 record. Two of the losses were by one point.
With only the Century Tournament and a nonleague game against Ontario left before league play, Glendora will have to put things together quickly to be ready for the difficult challenges that lay ahead in the Baseline League. Glendora opens league play at home on Jan. 10 against powerful Etiwanda.
“Obviously we have no choice but to find the positive side to this,” LeDuc said. “The truth is we’d much rather have the chemistry of playing together. That would be a greater positive. We didn’t have that situation the past six weeks, so we’re doing the best we can to turn it into a positive and be competitive.
“I think we were (competitive). Two of our three losses were by one point and we don’t feel we played very well in either game.”
Colletta averaged 24 points per game last season.
Up for the challenge
After winning last week’s Pride of the Foothills Tournament, Damien has its sights set on taking on another local event when the Spartans begin play in the Covina Tournament on Monday.
Damien (9-1) is one of the favorites to win, but it won’t be easy with the presence of talented J.W. North. The Spartans open play against Wilson at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.
Damien coach Matt Dunn knows what type of game he’ll get out of his players will be anybody’s guess considering they will have spent the previous day opening gifts and eating with family.
“I would say the ugliest day of basketball every year is December 26,” Dunn said. “It’s a really tough day for kids to play, I think. Teams always do not play their best.
“But we’ve been telling our guys that this is the best time of year to be a basketball player because all you have to do is play basketball. This is fun for our guys.”
Damien could match up with Northview again if both teams win their opening games. The Spartans just beat the Vikings in the championship game of the Pride of the Foothills Tournament. That may be a nice game for local fans, but Dunn isn’t exactly excited about the prospect of seeing Northview again.
“If it works out we have to play Northview again, that would be twice in a one-week span and that would be a little scary,” Dunn said. “This is the first time we’ve ever been in the Covina Tournament and I think our guys are excited. It’s got a nice mix of local teams and teams from out of the area.
“I think it’s a really good field. I haven’t seen J.W. North, but from everything I’ve been told they’re very good.”
Rowland very well could be the wild card in the Covina Tournament field.
The Raiders are 7-4 and had some close losses to end the Pride of the Foothills Tournament. One of those defeats was against Bishop Amat, which also is in the Covina Tournament.
The Raiders have beaten South Hills, which also is in the tournament. If Rowland gets hot from the perimeter, coach Gordon Hamlow’s team could make a run.
“You’re spending all your time right now trying to develop your offense and your defense,” Hamlow said. “Every one of these games is an opportunity to get prepared for league.
“This tournament is important because we have to put all the pieces together. We’ve had a couple of pieces out and getting them back would make us better than we were last week.”
Rowland appears to be on the fringe of the area’s upper-echelon teams such as Damien, Glendora (when healthy), Northview and La Verne Lutheran. But when the Raiders are shooting well from distance, they can prove awfully dangerous.
“I think we shoot the ball as well as anybody. It’s just going to be matter of how we defend,” Hamlow said.
Rowland has attempted a whopping 189 3-pointers this season in just 11 games. The Raiders have made 60 of them.
“It’s more than we’ve taken in the past, but we think that’s one of our strengths,” Hamlow said. “We have some pretty good outside shooters. It’s not just one or two guys. We think we have several guys who can hit the outside shots.
“Last week, we didn’t get as well of interior play than we needed. If we get balance, I think that’s when we’re at our best. We lose to Amat last week and make nine out of 20 3s. It wasn’t our shooting. It was our inability to defend as well in the second half.”
COVINA CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT
Monday’s First-Round games at Covina High School
Bosco Tech vs. California, 10 a.m.
Rowland vs. Azusa, 11:30 a.m.
Northview vs.Garey, 1 p.m.
Wilson vs. Damien, 2:30 p.m.
J.W. North vs. Charter Oak, 4 p.m.
Bishop Amat vs. Los Altos, 5:30 p.m.
South Hills vs. Jurupa Hills, 7 p.m.
Covina vs. Sierra Vista, 8:30 p.m.