Mt. San Jacinto (23-6, 14-2): It was a very good year for the Eagles as the 2022-2023 season brought a lot of wins to their program. After a season opening loss against LA Southwest, Mt. San Jacinto won their next eight games and were one of the hottest teams in the state. The Eagles finished non conference action with a 9-3 record and had quality wins against Saddleback and Riverside as they moved into conference action. In Inland Empire Conference play, the Eagles rolled through teams throughout conference play but suffered two losses against San Bernardino but took home second place after finishing 14-2 in conference play. The Eagles picked up an 11th seed going into the playoffs and picked up a first round win against Cuesta 89-72. In the 2nd round, the Eagles season came to an end after losing on the road to Los Angeles Harbor 86-77 to end their season. Mt. San Jacinto finished the year 23-6 and will look to build off a solid 22-23 campaign.
Head Coach: Trent Skinner
2023-2024 outlook: After having a standout season last season, the Eagles are set to have another chance to make some noise in Southern California. Coming into the new season, the Eagles will only need to replace two players from last seasons team that won 23 games. Mt. San Jacinto lost Cameron Durr and Mateo Blocker but will have plenty of talent to take the duos place. The Eagles will return four players from last seasons team that played. Leading the list of returners is “6-3” Dasean Stevens as the guard returns for his sophomore season. Stevens averaged 21.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his freshman season and is arguably one of the best guards in the state. “6-3” BJ Brown returns as well and the under rated and slept on shooting guard averaged 11.9 points per game last season. “6-6” Elijah Shirley (5.8 points) and pass first point guard “6-3” Jackson Bernardo (2.7 points and 4.4 assists) return to the team for the upcoming season. Four key pieces are back which is a reason why the Eagles have a chance to be very good this season.
Newcomers: Mt. San Jacinto will welcome in some more key pieces for the upcoming season. Leading the list of newcomers is “6-6” Isaiah Skinner who returns back after a redshirt season. Skinner is a big time scoring threat and will provide a scoring punch to the offense. Skinner can shoot the rock and will add versatility to the lineup as well. “6-5” Darius Mason is coming in from Casper College and is expected to have an impact for the Eagles. “6-6” Tyler Frazier-Mathews (Bethal Christian), “6-2” Bruce Robison (West Valley), are two other pieces that will look to contribute this upcoming season.
Projection: The Eagles did not lose a lot from a year ago and return some players that could push them over the top. Mt. San Jacinto made a solid showing at the jamboree and although it is early it is very clear that the Eagles will have a chance to win a lot of games. The Eagles have a lot of firepower in their lineup but if there is one thing that is lacking it could be the front court but at the end of the day we project them to finish at the top of the Inland Empire Conference for the upcoming season. Mt. San Jacinto could be a team that will play deep in the post season as well and we are expecting them to have a big season.
Season Opener: 11/1 vs Palomar
San Bernardino (27-4, 16-0): The Wolverines continue to be a standout team in the state and last season was not any different when it came to putting w’s in the win column. As the season started the Wolverines got off to a slow start losing two of their first three games (East LA and Saddleback). The Wolverines won seven of thier eight last non conference games and finished non conference play with a 9-3 record including two wins against national junior colleges. In conference play, San Bernardino cruised through conference. After a close call against Chaffey where the Wolerines won by two points, San Bernardino only had one more game within conference where the game was decided by 10 points or less. The Wolverines finished conference play with a 16-0 record and brought home the conference championship. In the post season, the Wolverines were seeded 4th, picked up a 2nd round victory over Saddleback 77-45 followed that up with a win over Pasadena and found themselves in the Elite Eight. At the Elite Eight, the Wolverines suffered a season ending loss against San Francisco but San Bernardino finished the season with a 27-4 record.
Head Coach: Quincy Brewer
2023-2024 outlook: After two consecutive trips to the Elite Eight, do the Wolverines have what it takes to get back? San Bernardino loses five key pieces from last seasons team including our STLB Socal Player of the Year in Dom Daniels. The Wolverines also lost Sebastian Mendoza, Chester Makoi, Armon Muldrew and Aamari Smith along with some other freshmen on the squad. As the new season approaches the Wolverines will return four players to this seasons team. “6-3” Sylis Gray (6.4 points), “6-3” Chine Nwanevu (6.0 points), “6-2” Duwan Franklin (3.1 points) and “6-7” Derrick Nettles (2.5 points) return to the team for their sophomore seasons.
Newcomers: San Bernardino will look for newcomers to make a splash for their continued success moving forward after making the Elite Eight two years straight. “6-4” Mike Miller, “6-7” Jalen Lee, “6-4” Malachi Owens are sophomores coming to the program and Miller showed his scoring ability at the jamboree. “6-0” Jason Lee (AOSS Academy) looks to have the inside job to replacing Dom Daniels. “6-9” Benjamin Byrd (Arrowhead Christian), “6-0” Kenyani Lee (South County), “6-7” Jeremiah Whitmore (Oak Hill), “5-10” Isaiah Espinoza (Beaumont) “6-1” Adrian Mosley (West Linn) and “6-7” Isaiah Grant (West Anchorage) are freshmen that will look to contribute this upcomoing season.
Projection: San Bernardino will look to have another standout season as the Wolverines have established themselves as a elite program in the state of California. San Bernardino is in reload mode as the Wolverines have a lot to replace and have some big shoes to replace with everything that was lost last season. There are a lot of uestion marks for the upcoming season when it comes to the team but we still feel the Wolverines will be a very good team but we have them projected for 2nd place as there in the Inland Empire Conference for the 23-24 season.
Season Opener: 11/2 vs San Diego Miramar
Cerro Coso (17-12, 11-5): It was a season of streaks for the Coyotes as Cerro Coso struggled to find consistency throughout the season. After winning their first two games of the season, the Coyotes dropped their next two games against Fullerton and Moorpark. The Coyotes won their next two but followed that up with four straight losses and finished non conference action with a 6-7 record. As conference rolled around, the Coyotes were a team on the bubble and needed some key wins in conference action. The Coyotes got the message and started off conference play and started conference action winning five of their first six games. Cerro Coso continued to play well throughout conference as the Coyotes failed to beat San Bernardino or Mt. San Jacinto but picked up eleven wins in a fairly good conference to finish 3rd place and finish with a 11-5 record in conference action. Cerro Coso received a post season bid as the 21st seed but suffered a first round loss against Pasadena to end their season. Cerro Coso ended their 22-23 season with a 17-12 season and will look to improve this upcoming season.
Head Coach: Chris Dugan
2023-2024 outlook: Coming into the new season, Cerro Coso will look to have another quality season. The Coyotes have to replace three guys that averaged in double figures in Nate Jackson, Adam Claybourne and Jordan Howard and also lose a versatile piece in Jalen Williams. Between the four players the Coyotes lose 50 points and have some quality pieces that are capable of putting points on the board. Moving into the upcoming season, Cerro Coso will return four players from last seasons team. Destin Jenkins returns for his sophomore season after averaging 11.3 points and 6.4 rebounds. Jenkins is expected to have a solid sophomore season and his point production should increase. “6-4” Sincere Edwards (11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds), “6-1” Darnell Turner Jr. (5.8 points), and “5-10” Eddie Garner (2.3 points) will all return and add experience and pieces to the Coyote puzzle for the incoming season.
Newcomers: The Coyotes will welcome in plenty of newcomers that should contribute for the upcoming season. “6-4” Malachi Greenwich is coming into the program from Northeastern CC and the wing should add some scoring and athleticism to the Coyotes in his sophomore season. “6-5” Trenton Gordon (Duluth, GA), “6-2” Jason Morris (Deerfield Beach, FL), “6-4” Freddie Acosta (Somerset Pines), “6-0” Jakwon Morris (Deerfield Beach, FL), and “6-2” Joshua Escheik (Prestonwood Christian, TX) are all freshmen that could contribute for the Coyotes.
Projection: Cerro Coso comes into the season as a team that should be fairly competitive. The Coyotes lost a lot of scoring from a year ago but have two players back that averaged in double figures. Edwards and Jenkins have potential to both score in double figures and be standout players in the conference. The Coyotes will be a solid team and we expect them to contend in the upper half of the conference and we project them for finishing 3rd place in the Inland Empire Conference.
Season Opener: 11/1 vs Moorpark
Chaffey (19-10, 10-6): Last season the Panthers had a solid season as Chaffey was a standout team in Southern California. The Panthers got off to an extremely hot start as Chaffey won eight of their first nine games. The Panthers lost their last two games in non conference play against Citrus and Fullerton but played well in non conference action. In conference play, Chaffey struggled to find consistency in the win column as the Panthers picked up wins in their first two games in conference but lost their next two games in conference before knocking off Desert and Barstow. Chaffey then followed that up with consecutive losses against Mt. San Jacinto and Cerro Coso before finishing the first round off with two more victories. The Panthers finished the first half of conference with a 4-4 record and finished 6-2 in their last eight games and finished with a 10-6 record in conference action. Chaffey finished the regular season with a 19-9 record and picked up a 23rd seed in the post season. The Panthers season ended in 1st round action as Chaffey lost to Santiago Canyon 88-72 on the road.
Head Coach: Jeff Klein
2023-2024 Outlook: Coming into the new season, the Panthers will look to build off their 19 win season from a year ago. Chaffey had a solid season but the Panthers have a lot to replace from a year ago as six key pieces from lat seasons team move on. Jozelle Carter, Miguel Robles, Isaiah Barcelo, Jonathan Neal, Michael Henry, and Eulysses Foston are all gone as they accounted for 53 points on the offensive end of the floor. Chaffey will return two players from last seasons team as “6-5” Brody Davis returns for his sophomore campaign after having a stellar freshman season. Davis averaged 13.6 points and 5.8 rebounds and is a match up nightmare for many opposing teams. The sophomore is expected to have a standout season for the Panthers. “6-4” Caike Godoy who averaged 4.8 points returns to the team for his sophomore season. Chaffey does not bring back a lot of experience but Davis is an all conference type player that will provide a lot of positive things for the Panthers this upcoming season.
Newcomers: Chaffey has a lot of players to replace but will welcome back “5-10” Shaden Knight back after a redshirt season as the guard played in four games last season. “6-3” Marcus Green is a transfer from Arizona Christian and will provide sophomore experience to the team. “5-11” Shadale Knight (Rancho Cucamonga), “6-6” Ryan Lewis (AB Miller), “6-0” Nate Simon (Roosevelt), “6-0” Kwinten Crenshaw (Etiwanda), “6-3” Uriyah Rojas (CS Dominguez Hills), “6-6” Michael Ogundowole (Orange Vista) and “6-2” Jacob Barcelo (Etiwanda) are all players that should contribute to the Panthers this upcoming season.
Projection: The Panthers come into the season with tons of players to replace. Chaffey returns Brody Davis and he looked very good at the showcase with some solid freshmen players capable of stepping in and being difference makers. Jeff Klein is one of the best in the business and gets the most out of his players within his system. Chaffey will always be a very competitive team and we dont see anything any different this season as we project the Panthers to finish in the upper half of the conference and having a good shot at making the post season.
Season Opener: 11/1 vs Cerritos
Victor Valley (11-17, 6-10): The Rams struggled to find consistency in the 22-23 season as it was a streaky season for Victor Valley. The Rams started the season off with a victory over Golden West but followed that up with four straight losses. Victor Valley went on a run and picked up three straight wins before losing Ventura. As non conference action ended, the Rams finished with a 5-7 record and needed to pick up some conference wins if they were going to make the post season. In conference action, the Rams struggled to find consistency and had trouble winning games against teams that were above .500. Victor Valley knocked off teams that were below them in conference but could not get over the hump against teams in the upper half of the standings as the Rams finished with a 6-10 record in conference action. Victor Valley finished with a 11-17 overall record and missed the post season in the 22-23 season.
Head Coach: William Funn
2023-2024 outlook: The Rams come into the new season with a lot of questions as plenty of new pieces are in place. Coach William Funn has taken over the program after the school year has started and the Rams have Josh Ryan, Blake Goodro, Terrin Ross and Janko Darmmeh to replace after winning 11 games a year ago. As the season approaches, the Rams will have back two players that return from last seasons team. “6-2” Jordan Nyari who played in 2 games and “6-2” Mason Bush (1.5 points) return to the team for the upcoming season. Victor Valley will lack experience which could hurt them especially early in the season.
Newcomers: The Rams will have plenty of newcomers that will be on the roster this upcoming season. “6-6” Mardoche Sambou returns after sitting out last season and “6-0” Alijah Gonsalves is back after playing in 2019-2020 as he averaged 4.4 points that season. “5-10” Jordan Malvauez (Adelanto), “6-6” Joseph Lucas (Oak Hills), “6-5” Dominque Finnks (Serrano), “6-6” Jel Aguek-Malek (JSerra), “6-5” Jeremiah Weaver (Victorville), “6-3” KenYon Crittenden (Adelanto) and “6-1” De’Von Bateman (Silverado) are all freshmen that will look to contribute this season for the Rams.
Projection: With so many newcomers and not a lot of experience coming back it could be a difficult start to the season for the Rams. Who will do the scoring and who will provide and be willing to do the intangibles to help the team move forward? Answers will be found soon enough but at this point we feel like the Rams will be fairly competitive and finish in the middle of the pack for the upcoming season.
Season Opener: 11/1 @ Golden West
Palo Verde (5-22, 3-13): The Pirates had a difficult campaign a year ago as it was a tough 22-23 season. Palo Verde started the year off losing their first four games before picking up a win against Golden West. After the victory against Golden West, the Pirates picked up another victory in non conference play and entered conference play with a 2-9 record. In conference action, Palo Verde picked up wins against Desert and knocked off Barstow twice and finished Inland Empire Conference play with a 3-13 record. Palo Verde finished the season with a 5-22 record and missed the post season in the 2022-2023 season.
Head Coach: Tom Heck
2023-2024 outlook: Coming into the new season Palo Verde will look to have an improved season after posting five victories last season. The Pirates lost Monshare Shellie and Mehki Philliips from last season but still have plenty of fire power within the lineup coming back this season. The Pirates will also welcome a new coach on the sideline as Tom Heck takes over the program. Heck last coached at Cerro Coso College and will add some experience on the sidelines. Palo Verde welcomes back three players that averaged in double figures and have a year of experience under their belt. Leading the list of returners is “5-11” AJ Edwards who averaged 17.6 points per contest. The guard is expected to have another big season after having a great freshman season. “6-0” Malik Russell (14.1 points) and “6-3” Terron Smith (13.0 points) both return after averaging in double figures last season. “5-11” Sheymar Trader returns to the squad as well after seeing limited action in his first season. The Pirates have three pieces that were able to score the basketball but will they be able to stop opponents at the other end as the Pirates gave up 90 or more points sixteen times last season.
Newcomers: The Pirates will welcome in a lot of new pieces and as we mentioned above will have a new coach on the sidelines. “6-5” Kamari Johnson is a sophomore transfer from Shorter College that will provide sophomore experience. “6-3” Manny Duany (Fairfax), “6-1” Jaylen Ayala (Downey Christian), “6-5” Jacorey Foster (Brian Adams), “6-1” Kareem Hickman (Youngstown), “6-0” Elijah Mack (Lakeview) and “6-9” Ker Diew (Centennial Valley) will give the Pirates some front line size. It will be intriguing how the young players fit in with the core that is coming back from last seasons team.
Projection: Palo Verde will have some pieces that can score the ball but will have to be better at the defensive end of the floor to be competitive. The Pirates have three guys that are returning that can score the basketball but they are playing in a conference that has teams that can score the ball just as well. Palo Verde will be a competitive team and be an improved team but we still have them finishing in the bottom half of the Inland Empire Conference as we project them finishing 6th place in the 2023-2024 season.
Season Opener: 11/2 @ San Jose
Copper Mountain (17-13, 9-7): Last season the Fighting Cactci had a quality season for all that the team went through. After starting the season with two close losses against Southwestern and West Los Angeles, Copper Mountain continued to work and get better and went on a five game winning streak including a win over Santiago Canyon. Following the winning streak, the Fighting Cacti struggled to find consistency and struggled in non conference play. In their defense Copper Mountain played a pretty tough schedule and finished with a 7-5 record with losses against San Diego (2x) and Cerritos. In conference play, the Fighting Cacti had a run of streaks but struggled to find consistency. After an early loss to San Bernardino, Copper Mountain won three straight , followed that up with two straight losses and it went that way throughout conference. The Fighting Cacti finished conference play with a 9-7 record and the regular season with a 16-12 record. Copper Mountain picked up a post season bid and the were seeded 24th and were going to be on the road against Cerritos. In that first round match up the Fighting Cacti picked up a double overtime road win and moved on to the 2nd round. In the second round, Copper Mountain lost to San Diego 66-56 and ended their 23-24 campaign with a 17-13 record.
Head Coach: JJ Santa Cruz
2023-2024 outlook: The Fighting Cacti will come into the season with a lot of questions after putting together 17 wins last season. Copper Mountain has a lot of pieces to replace and JJ Santa Cruz has taken over the program as head coach for the 23-24 season. Santa Cruz comes from Sonoma State as he was an assistant coach at the division 2 school. Larry Holmes, Jack Garrison, Jaylon Bradberry, Lydell Boyd, Nathan Kennedy, Isreal Goldsmith and Jaylon Lee are all gone from a year ago. Copper Mountain lost 59 points between all of those players and will return only one player from last seasons team. “6-0” Jacob Pearson is the lone player back from a year ago but had limited experience but will provide sophomore experience to the team.
Newcomers: As the new season approaches, a lot of turnover is coming within the program. As we mentioned above JJ Santa Cruz takes over the program and will have plenty of pieces to fill. “6-0” Jordan Montgomery and “6-4” Chris Johnson are coming into the program as sophomores. “6-1” Dontae Ralston Jr. (San Diego), “6-4″ Phil Bernardez Jr. (Chico), ,”6-5” Levin Holloway (Escondido), “6-2” Damian Ruiz (Linfield), “5-11” Isaac Lopez (Yuma), and Arman Saucedo (Orange) are all listed on the roster for the upcoming 23-24 season.
Projection: It will be an interesting first season for coach Santa Cruz and company as a lot of turnover is in the making for the Fighting Cacti. A couple of players that were at the showcase aren’t listed on the roster and Copper Mountain will lack size and other variables to be highly competitive in the IEC. The Fighting Cacti could struggle and with that being said we have them finishing in the lower half of the conference and we have them projected for an 8th place finish.
Season Opener: 11/2 vs LA Southwest
Desert (6-23, 3-13): It was a tough season for the Roadrunners as Desert struggled in the 2022-2023 season. Desert started off the season losing their first nine games of the season before picking up a victory over Imperial Valley in their tenth game of the season. Desert picked up two more wins in non conference action and finished non conference action with a 3-10 record before moving into Inland Empire Conference action. In conference action, the Roadrunners picked up three wins as Desert picked up a win against Palo Verde and knocked off Barstow twice. Desert failed to make the post season and finished with a 3-13 record in conference play and a 6-23 overall record for the 2022-2023 season.
Head Coach: Robert Romero
2023-2024 outlook: As the season approaches Desert will look to having an improved 23-24. After winning six games a year ago, the Roadrunners only return two players from last season and lost big man Garrett Hayden but have some players that should make them a competitive team for the season. “6-2” Isaiah Goad leads the list of players that are back for their sophomore season. Goad averaged 8.9 points per game last season and will look to have a standout season. “6-6” Chris Dodge returns after averaging 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds last season.
Newcomers: The Roadrunners will have plenty of newcomers stepping into the program. “6-5” Jermayn Baxter (Clark State), “6-0” Luke Mathis (San Bernardino JC transfer), “6-1” Joseph Rojas, “6-5” Tre Batts are all sophomores that should provide experience for Desert. “5-10” Davion Johnson (Orange Vista), “5-9” Dewayne Patterson (Rancho Mirage), “6-6” Walker Weir (Murrieta Valley), “6-2” Jamerson McClendon (Indio), “6-5” Brett Nerad (Shadow Hills) and “6-7” Sedrick Johnson (Skyline Prep) are all freshmen that could contribute this upcoming season.
Projection: Desert will go into the season with a lot of questions with so many newcomers stepping into the program. The Roadrunners return two players and will need production from the players coming into the program. Desert will be a competitive and improved team but it may take a while for pieces to fall in place for the 23-24 season. We project the Roadrunners will finish in the lower half of the conference but have a chance to put more w’s in the win column in the upcoming season.
Season Opener: 11/2 vs Bakersfield
Barstow (1-27, 0-16): The 2022-2023 season was not an easy one for the Roadrunners as Barstow struggled last season. Barstow started off the season with losing their first nine games of the season but found the win column in their tenth game of the season against Rio Hondo. Following that win, Barstow failed to see the win column the rest of the season. As non conference ended, Barstow went into conference play with a 1-11 record. In conference play the Roadrunners struggled on the defensive side and failed to win a game in the Inland Empire Conference as Barstow went 0-16. The Roadrunners missed the post season and finished the 2022-2023 season with a 1-27 record and a last place finish in the IEC.
Head Coach: Gerry Wright
2023-2024 outlook: Coming into the new season, the Roadrunners will look to have an improved 23-24 season after picking up one victory a year ago. Barstow will have to replace two players that averaged in double figures in Rashawn Burrell Bonam and Marc Docarmo and also lose Anello Hill along with many other players that transferred or left the program. The Roadrunners will return three players that played last season. Leading the list of returners is “6-4” Derek Eide as the sophomore is back after having a good first season in the desert. Eide averaged 11.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first season for the Roadrunners and should have a solid season in his sophomore season. “6-2” Coby Seery (4.9 points) and “6-6” Erik Jorgensen (7 games) return to the team as well and will provide sophomore experience.
Newcomers: Barstow will welcome in many newcomers to a team that won one game a year ago. The Roadrunners have plenty of pieces to fill and will look to freshmen to have a competitive season. “6-0” Tajon Perkins-Bell (Cheyenne), “6-5” Jalen Blanchard (Brisbane State), “6-3” Da’Shon Palmer (Shadow Ridge), “5-11” Chimo Ozonoh (Arrowhead Christian Academy), “5-9” Kaleb Foster (Oak Hills), “6-3” Jack Roberts (Trinity College), “6-7” Jayden Demeo (Gleeson College), “6-4” Anthony Prestia (Whitefriars College) and “6-3” Jalen Fultz (Arrowhead Christian Academy) were all players that will look to contribute that participated at the jamboree.
Projection: The Roadrunners are young and very inexperienced and may struggle to find their way especially early in the season. Barstow has a lot of foreign players on their roster and may struggle at times against athletic teams. Barstow will be an up tempo team but will they be able to stop teams? We project the Roadrunners will have a competitive team but will finish in the lower half of the Inland Empire Conference in the 2023-2024 season.
Season Opener: 11/3 @ Canyons
2023-2024 Signal The Light Basketball Inland Empire Conference Preview
1. Mt. San Jacinto
2. San Bernardino
3. Cerro Coso
5. Victor Valley
6. Palo Verde
8. Copper Mountain