An early take on San Francisco’s best prep basketball teams

Senior Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Joshua Fox is one of the key parts returning for the Irish. (Christian Chew/Special to The Examiner)Senior Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Joshua Fox is one of the key parts returning for the Irish. (Christian Chew/Special to The Examiner)

Senior Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Joshua Fox is one of the key parts returning for the Irish. (Christian Chew/Special to The Examiner)Senior Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Joshua Fox is one of the key parts returning for the Irish. (Christian Chew/Special to The Examiner)

With the most important games of the fall season just beginning, basketball tips off this week and The City will not be short on solid boys teams.

Things could very well change as the season progresses, but here are our Top 10 teams to start the 2011-2012 season:

1. Sacred Heart Cathedral (2010-2011 record: 23-7): All of the key parts are returning for the Irish, including one of the best front courts in the Bay Area, featuring senior forwards Joshua Fox and Taylor Johns. If they improve on last season’s shaky guard play, the Irish could make some noise in the WCAL championship race and the Division III state tournament.

2. Mission (2010-2011 record: 23-11): The Bears return a ton of talent and may have the best point guard in The City in junior Antoine Porter. He started to come into his own late last season, and is starting to garner college attention.

3. St. Ignatius (2010-2011 record: 17-10): The Wildcats will likely rise to the No. 2 spot once standout junior Stephen Domingo returns from a broken wrist, but that will be well into the nonleague season. Without Domingo and last season’s City Player of the Year Johnny Mrlik, the buzz around the program is focused on sophomore point guard Trevor Dunbar, who is a star in the making.

4. Lincoln (2010-2011 record: 20-13): The Mustangs will have a solid core of seniors returning, including guards Chris Young and Ares Brown. The Lincoln frontcourt may not be experienced, but will be imposing with three players over 6-foot-3, including 6-7 sophomore center Seth Snoddy.

5. University (2010-2011 record: 28-7): The Red Devils will have talent, they’ll just be really young. Only three seniors return from last season’s varsity squad, and without last year’s stars Noah Springwater and Zio Enriquez, it will be interesting to see who takes on a leadership role. In head coach Randal Bessolo’s system, however, University can probably hang with any team in The City.

6. Riordan (2010-2011 record: 9-18): The Crusaders are losing six graduated seniors from last season’s team, but should return five upperclassmen this year. One of those graduating seniors is do-everything, first-team All-City selection Aaron Anderson, and Riordan will have to rely heavily on the guard play of seniors Anthony Castillo and D.J. Harvey. Castillo is the Crusaders’ leading scorer returning, averaging 7.9 points per game last season.

7. Stuart Hall (2010-2011 record: 16-13): The Knights will be senior-heavy, but will also feature a host of incoming young talent. Senior guards Tim Connolly and Laboyd Ricard will set the pace for the Stuart Hall offense, while junior center Andreas Peritos will occupy the inside.

8. Lowell (2010-2011 record: 21-10): The Cardinals lost a lot of size to graduation, and still could use an emerging scorer, but head coach Rob Ray consistently has one of the best defensive teams in the AAA.

9. Washington (2010-2011 record: 25-10): The Eagles are defending AAA champions, but they are literally losing every key player from last season’s team. Washington will have a lot to prove, but could very well move up. Just not yet.

10. Lick-Wilmerding (2010-2011 record: 14-14): The Tigers return one of the BCL West’s top players in senior Isaiah Boone and got the edge in our final spot with wins over borderline teams Urban, Bay and Waldorf last season.

Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and www.SanFranPreps.com

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