Coaches for Livermore High boys and girls basketball teams said basically the same thing when asked to predict the upcoming East Bay Athletic League races.
"I honestly think it's De La Salle and Monte Vista at the top," Cowboys boys coach James Petersdorf said. "They're both pretty loaded, and I really think the rest of the league is all very equal."
Cowboys girls coach Matthew Garza, whose young team is paced by sophomore guard Rachel Hernandez, echoed those sentiments.
"It's Carondelet and Monte Vista until someone beats them," Garza said. "Monte Vista returns everybody, and they're going to be good. Carondelet is the returning champ, and they're already playing really well. After that I think we're all pretty much even."
Certainly the teams not named De La Salle/Carondelet or Monte Vista don't plan to just step aside when EBAL action begins after the holiday break.
In fact Livermore's boys and girls teams, which will compete in Division II in the postseason, entered the week with an impressive 15-2 combined record.
The Cowboys girls team could be fun to watch. They aren't exactly a tall order, so they need to do the other things well.
"Our starting lineup is a freshman, two sophomores and two seniors," Garza said. "We're not very big. Our tallest girl is 5-foot-9, and then we're all pretty short after that. But they play pretty hard, and they shoot the ball pretty well."
Livermore's boys team, which has four returning starters from last season, is led by Chad Wilkinson, an honorable mention all-EBAL pick, and center Jason Moran, who's averaging 13 rebounds a game. Andrei Kasten burst onto the scene with 20 points in a 75-52 win over Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park on Dec. 15.
Petersdorf describes Wilkinson as the "backbone of the team" and a team leader.
"It's just a good group of returning kids with a nice mixture of the JV kids that came up," Petersdorf said. "They've been jelling with the other guys all summer."
A key for the Cowboys could be staying positive and expecting success in the tougher EBAL. Livermore got a confidence boost by winning two of their final three league games last season.
"There's been a nice carry-over for us. We've built on that momentum," Petersdorf said. "I think our guys are genuinely feeling that they can go out and win league games."
DUBLIN HOLDS COURT: The Dublin boys basketball showed impressive depth in winning the Don Nelson Classic championship on Dec. 15.
With standout Joe McGlaston away at his brother's wedding for the championship game, the Gaels still beat a solid Heritage team 66-63.
McGlaston had been averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds a game. To get the job done, the Gaels rebounded very well and had balanced scoring with four players in double figures.
Jamir Andrews, the tournament MVP who had 21 points in the final, hit two clutch free throws with 8 seconds left to up the lead to three points. Cameron Moses, a shooting guard, had 10 rebounds.
"To beat a good Heritage team in those circumstances was pretty impressive," Dublin coach Tom Costello said. "After a pretty rugged tournament in Gridley, to come back and win our tournament in back-to-back years is pretty good. We played pretty decent California team, and then Concord, which beat us last year, to avenge that loss was pretty satisfying."