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High school winter sports preview

It seems to sneak up on us each year, but December is again upon us, and with it comes the frenetic pace of shopping and all the rest that goes with the holiday season. At La Jolla’s three high schools, however, December means the start of the winter sports season. It brings plenty of activity on the courts, fields and mats and in the pools and rinks. Here’s what to expect from the teams at La Jolla High School, La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop’s School in the coming months:

Boys basketball

La Jolla High School has eight seniors returning from a team that advanced to the CIF-San Diego Section Division III semifinals last season, so the Vikings are expecting good things this year.

They will be powered by a backcourt that includes seniors Spencer Moyer, Jerrell Agnew and Matt Jones. Their frontcourt may be even stronger, with two of the top post players in the county in Peter Sefton and Ja’Rodd Watson. La Jolla coach Kamal Assaf says he is also excited about potential contributions from two newcomers: 6-foot-5 junior forward Tyler Heap and 6-2 sophomore Tyler Davis.

The Bishop’s School is looking to build on last year’s season, in which the Knights went 21-9. The team seems to have the experienced players to do it. Senior Jywrell Wilson is expected to lead the team as he transitions from a scorer to the Knights’ point guard. David Stotlemyre, a 6-foot-3 junior, is also expected to be a key contributor. Coach Tom Tarantino says he is also excited about the play of sophomore Malik Love, junior Corey Malkiewicz and seniors Marcus Montanile and Michael Eribez.

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La Jolla Country Day went 16-12 and advanced to the playoff quarterfinals last year, but has an extremely young team this season. The Torreys will rely on sophomores Dennis Roth, Jvonte Brooks and J.T. Kelly, and they will hope for contributions from freshman Ryan Watt.

Girls basketball

La Jolla Country Day is coming off seven consecutive league and CIF-SDS division championships, and once again, the Torreys look to be one of the best teams in the area. They return seven players, including five seniors, from a team that went 24-8 last year.

Three of those seniors have committed to play at Division I colleges: forward/center Janae Fulcher at Arizona State, guard Dominique Conners at USD and guard Chelsea Burns at Utah State. Along with those three, Country Day has a standout in junior point guard Ariana Elegado and an exciting newcomer in 6-foot-4 freshman post player Gillian Howard, who coach Terri Bamford described as not only a dominant force inside but also a solid mid-range shooter.

The Bishop’s School may be just a half step behind its intra-city rivals from Country Day. The Knights went 21-10 last year and advanced to the semifinal game in the CIF-SDS Division IV playoff bracket. They return a strong group this year that has high expectations once again.

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Leading that group is senior guard Michelle Brunker, who has committed to play at Louisiana next year. Junior guard Gizelle Studevent, a transfer from Country Day, and junior guard Inga Orekhova are also top college prospects. The Knights will also rely on a group of players that includes guard Bianca Padilla, guard Elaina White and forward Briana Martinez.

La Jolla High School went 11-12 last year, and expects improvement with a strong corps of players this season.

Senior guards Olivia Waldon and Ashley Fu, as well as senior forward Sandra Harpster, are expected to be leaders for the Vikings. Coach Ty Eveleth is hoping a difficult pre-league schedule will prepare his team for the challenges they face in Western League play.

Boys soccer

La Jolla Country Day went 17-6-4 last season and advanced to the CIF-SDS Division IV semifinals. The Torreys bring back just two seniors, though, so they will count on their younger players to develop quickly. Senior midfielder Adam Saven and senior sweeper Darren Blake, both captains, anchor the team, with returning All-CIF players Alex Pohyonen (defense) and Zach Wolfenzen (forward) also expected to be leaders.

Girls soccer

La Jolla Country Day is still recovering from losing almost its entire team to graduation two years ago, but coach David Jenkins expects the Torreys will be better than the team that won just one game last season.

They have a strong group of seniors that includes Allison Dorr, Cody Saleh and Jasmine Edwards on defense and Jessica Hershfield in goal. Junior Sierra Ferreira is also expected to contribute in the midfield.

Girls water polo

The Bishop’s School is coming off a 29-2 season and a CIF-SDS Division II championship. The Knights lost a pair of two-time All-CIF players who went on to play at Division I colleges, but that doesn’t mean expectations are any lower for them this season.

The Knights’ success will hinge on the play of junior Dominique Sardo, who had 64 goals, 48 assists and 111 steals last season. Senior captains Zinnea Alexander and Cathy White will also be key contributors.

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La Jolla High School went 19-11 last year and advanced deep into the postseason before graduating all its starters. That should make for an uphill battle for the Vikings this season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t expect to compete with perennial powers Coronado and Bishop’s for CIF-SDS supremacy.

Coach Dante Laghetto will look to junior center Jackie Walters and sophomore utility player Kate Woods to anchor a young squad.

Wrestling

La Jolla High School went 2-4 in dual-meet competition last season and graduated four seniors, so the Vikings should be young and inexperienced this year. They’re not short on enthusiasm, however, as they have added 25 first-year wrestlers to the program, which coach Ryan Lennard thinks will bode well for the future. Proven wrestlers that the Vikings will count on this season include seniors Tyler Rohr and Daniel Golden as well as juniors Metzli Quientero and Diego Alayza.

Roller hockey

La Jolla Country Day finished third in the South Bay League last year and just two positions away from making the postseason. The team, however, lost six seniors to graduation, so it may need to find some magic to sneak into the playoffs this year.

Junior defenseman Ben Sweeney and junior goalkeeper Eric Williamson are the only returning players. Junior forward Cameron Eibl anchors a group of promising newcomers.