The Southern California high school basketball scene is set for another enthralling season, with Mission League teams at the forefront. The 2022–23 season set a high bar, witnessing Harvard-Westlake winning the state Open Division championship and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame securing the Division 1 title. With eyes on the upcoming 2023–24 season, the Mission League’s ambitions continue; the goal is to continue this legacy and dominate Southern California rankings. 

This assertion was evident during the recent Mission League basketball media day, where discussions about upcoming strategies and roster changes were in full swing. Among the most notable updates is the appointment of former Lakers guard Derek Fisher as the new head coach for Crespi. Fisher, known for his significant contributions to the NBA and coaching stints with teams like the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Sparks, expressed his dedicated approach to his high school coaching role, emphasizing his commitment to nurturing young talent.

Harvard-Westlake is preparing for a robust defense of its title. Though the team faces the challenge of filling the gaps left by Brady Dunlap and Jacob Huggins, there is plenty of skill within their ranks. Players such as Trent Perry, Robert Hinton, and Nikolas Khamenia are expected to lead the team, supported by Christian Horry. “We all have the fire in our bellies to win everything possible,” Hinton affirmed, reflecting the team’s resolve. 

The season schedule highlights a fascinating matchup on January 10th, where Harvard-Westlake will face Crespi. This game isn’t just about league standings; it’s a personal affair, with Derek Fisher and Robert Horry, former Lakers teammates, on opposite sides.

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Adding to the competitive spirit, Bishop Alemany is making notable strategic enhancements. The team has bolstered its lineup with three transfer students—Michael Baba, Bourgeois Tshilobo-Nzambi, and Samuel Mbingazo—poised to make their debuts after December 24th. Their presence is anticipated to bring additional depth and versatility to the Warriors.

At Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, all attention is on Mercy Miller, whom Coach Matt Sargeant hails as “the best scoring guard in the country.” This statement sparked a spirited response from Sierra Canyon’s assistant coach, Chris Howe, who bestowed similar praise on Isaiah Elohim. These exchanges underscore the intense rivalry and caliber of talent in the Mission League.

But it’s not all easygoing. Loyola’s team is having a tough time because their best scorer, Jonas de Krassel, broke his ankle. This shows the kind of challenging situations teams are dealing with. The league is competitive, and teams can’t afford to make mistakes. Loyola’s coach, Damaine Powell, knows this well. He said any mistakes teams make will be taken advantage of, showing just how tough the competition is.

More excitement will come at the end of the season with the introduction of a Mission League tournament. The final big game will be played at the home of the highest-ranked team still in the fight, promising spectators the high-tension basketball that the Mission League is known for. 

For the girls’ teams, everyone’s talking about Sierra Canyon, even though they lost star player Juju Watkins. They’re still a strong team, especially with new player Jerzy Robinson. But there are more hurdles ahead, as injuries have taken key players like Bella Spencer and Leia Edwards out for the season. There are also new coaches, Jason Ancrum and Jena Laolagi, at Chaminade and Notre Dame, so you might see some new coaching styles and changes.

As everyone gets ready for what’s next, the excitement is high. The Mission League, a big deal in Southern California high school basketball, is preparing for a season full of top-notch skills and competition for the basketball top spot. Everyone, from the teams to the coaches and players, is determined. This is a season basketball fans won’t want to miss.