By Dan Arritt     11/29/2016

The Trinity League boys’ basketball season is upon us, and this year’s race looks like another runaway train for Mater Dei, which enters the season ranked No. 9 in the nation by USA Today.

Leading scorer Spencer Freedman returns along with fellow starter Justice Sueing, giving the Monarchs a solid base to work with. They’ll be joined in the starting lineup by 6-foot-10 center Miles Brookins, who averaged just 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds while playing behind M.J. Cage last season, but received enough attention to earn a scholarship offer from La Salle, which he accepted last month.

It’s that type of depth that should, once again, give Mater Dei the edge over its Trinity League rivals. Santa Margarita, JSerra and Orange Lutheran also return their leading scorers from last season, but don’t appear to have the depth needed to steal the title from the Monarchs, who have won 32 league titles in the last 33 years.

In addition to the three mentioned above, Michael Wang, Matt Weyand, Reagan Lundeen, Harrison Butler, Aidan Prukop and Clay Donohue are expected to be key contributors for the Monarchs.

Wang is a 6-10 junior forward, Weyand a 6-6 senior wing, Lundeen a 6-6 junior forward, Butler a 6-4 junior forward, Prukop a 6-4 freshman guard and Donohue a 6-6 sophomore forward.

Mater Dei opens its season Nov. 26 at Dos Pueblos near Santa Barbara.

If there’s a team that can put an end to Mater Dei’s long run of league victories that dates back to 2009, it’s Santa Margarita, which opened its season Nov. 21 vs. Peninsula at the Pacific Shores tournament.

The top three scorers return for the Eagles, led by 5-11 senior guard Kaden Rasheed, who averaged 15.2 points last season en route to making first-team all-league honors. He’ll be joined in the starting lineup by 6-7 senior Adrease Jackson, who committed to Dartmouth last month, and 6-7 junior Jordan Guest, also a forward.

Another starter, 6-6 sophomore wing Jake Kyman, and the first players off the bench are expected to be 6-4 sophomore shooting guard Max Agbonkpolo and Tomas Soto, a 6-4 junior guard who transferred in from Saddleback Valley Christian.

Orange Lutheran will be led by returning first-team all-leaguer Chris Williams, who averaged team high 13.3 points last season. He’s receiving interest from Colorado St and Texas-Arlington. The Lancers open their season Nov. 28 against Redlands East Valley at the BattleZone tournament at Corona Centennial High School.

JSerra also returns its leading scorer in Sebastian Much, a 6-8 senior forward who has committed to Princeton. Much averaged 19 points last season to earn first-team honors in the Trinity League and CIF-SS Division 4-AA.

The Lions open their season Nov. 29 at Crenshaw in Los Angeles.

Servite doesn’t return its top scorer from last season, as Cameron Griffin graduated, but second-leading scorer Pearson Parker returns for his junior year. The 6-foot guard averaged 14.8 points last season and was also a first-team all-league selection.

Servite, which opened its season Nov. 22 at Huntington Beach, suffered a ley loss in the offseason when 7-foot center Jacob Hughes transferred tp El Dorado. Hughes, who played his freshman year at Orange Lutheran before transferring to Servite, averaged seven points and six rebounds for Servite last season.