The boys and girls varsity basketball teams are coming off breakthrough seasons in which each made the state playoffs.
Coach James Paleno has, as usual, entered his squad in several tough tournaments to prepare the Dolphins for the Western League, where they will face perennial powerhouses Westchester and Fairfax as well as last season's finalist University.
First up is the hosted by Redondo Union High, where all games will be played. The Dolphins' opening game is Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. against Torrance. The field is again loaded with many of the best teams in the Southland, including Westchester, Fairfax, Loyola, Harvard-Westlake, Dominguez and Long Beach Poly. Palisades lost to Harvard-Westlake in the second round of the Pacific Shores Tournament last year and was eliminated by Long Beach Poly in the first round of the .
Palisades will be led by senior co-captain Donovan Johnson, who recently signed with . He was voted Most Outstanding Player in the and made the All-City first team last season after averaging 15.9 points and 2.9 steals a game. The Dolphins went 18-14 and lost to eventual champion Taft in the City Division I semifinals. Also back are Dominick Brown and Tyler Duke, who will be the team's other captains, Brenden Otero and Alex Frapech.
Paleno is 24 victories shy of 400 as coach at Pali High.
Meanwhile, Coach Torino Johnson's girls squad will tip-off its season half an hour earlier than the boys, at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday against Marlborough at Pali High in the first round of the Dolphins' eighth annual .
Palisades won its tournament last winter, beating City Section Division I winner Carson in the final. The Dolphins went on to capture their first Division II crown and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, finishing with 25 wins.
Once again, the Dolphins will be led by senior point guard and co-captain Ashlie Bruner, who was named Most Valuable Player of last year's tournament. She recently signed to play at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. Bruner was a first team All-League and All-City pick, averaging 13.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 steals a game. Also returning are fellow captains Monica Ide and Skai Tompson, Donae Moguel, Asia Smith, Haylee Hutt, Kristen Thomason and Kylie Mizushima.
The Palisades Beach Invitational runs through Dec. 3 and features five City schools (Palisades, El Camino Real, Westchester, Carson and Locke) and 12 from the (Gahr, La Salle, Marymount, Campbell Hall, St. Monica, Sierra Canyon, Marlborough, Campbell Hall, Culver City, Esperanza, Calabasas and Palos Verdes).
All games will be at the Pali High gym. The championship game will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, preceded by the consolation championship (ninth-place game) at 1:30 p.m., the seventh-place game at 3 p.m., the fifth-place game at 4:30 p.m. and the third-place game at 6.