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SYHS hoop men are team to watch ... again Trent Warren | Fri, Dec 14 2012 12:50 PM

After a remarkable 2011-12 season, the San Ysidro High School boys basketball team is back at it again and hungrier than ever. This year the reigning South Bay League co-champions have unfinished business.

The Cougars aren’t just looking for another South Bay league title. Instead, they are looking to avenge their defeat to Torrey Pines in last season’s Division I semifinals. This season, however, San Ysidro is looking for a Division II section title after being moved down a division.

First thing first is winning the league championship title. San Ysidro must first out-play league rival Sweetwater. Both Sweetwater and San Ysidro shared the league title last season.

The Cougars have the talent to win a league championship in 2012-13. Despite losing Javion Watson to Long Beach State, the season still looks bright for the Cougars. They return five key players from last year’s team: guards Ronald (Woda) Steward and Lynard Steward, wingman Keeko Sinegal and postmen Justin Johnson and Orlando Quionoez.

San Ysidro also brings in ultra athletic wingman transfer John Crowder. Coach Terry Tucker refers to Crowder as a “dunking machine.”

The Cougars will rely on their height to be successful.

Johnson stands at a towering 6 feet, 8 inches, while Crowder is 6-6, Quionoez is 6-5 and Sinegal is 6-4. All are extremely tall for high school basketball players.

Athleticism is a strong point as well. The team has been compared to Division II powerhouse Lincoln. This is a huge comparison considering Lincoln has the Robinson twins (Tyree and Tyrell), who are both committed to play football and basketball at the University of Oregon.

Don’t be surprised if you see both these teams playing against each other in the division championship game.

The Cougars also know how to put the ball in the hoop. They were the highest scoring team in the section last season, averaging 76 points per game. Leading scorers included Sinegal (12 ppg) and Ronald Steward (11 ppg). Look for those numbers to skyrocket after the departure of Watson.

It has been a long haul but a successful one for Tucker, whose success dates back to his years at Crawford where he coached SDSU standout Malcolm Thomas.

Tucker then made the transition to SYHS in 2007 during which the Cougars finished 1-26 overall and winless in league play. However, it only took five years for San Ysidro to go from being a one-win team to a team that finished 25-6 in 2011-12 and only one game shy of playing in the Division I final.

Obviously, Tucker has made all the difference at San Ysidro and, needless to say, he has turned around the Cougar basketball program significantly.

San Ysidro tipped off the season by winning its first four games before being edged, 49-46, in a non-league game last Friday at Eastlake.

Through five games, Ronald Steward (17.6), Lynard Steward (14.4) and Sinegal (10.6) led the team in scoring.

Wins for the Cougars have come against Mira Mesa (72-64 on Nov. 29), Poway (63-50 on Nov. 30), La Costa Canyon (55-51 on Dec. 4) and Grossmont (70-60 on Dec. 5).

San Yisdro will participate in this year’s Xtreme Glass Invitational that starts Saturday at Sweetwater High School. The tournament runs through Dec. 22.

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