The St. Monica High School Mariners boys basketball team hopes to make some changes in the 2004-05 season on the way to challenging for the Camino Real League title.

The Mariners finished last season with a 4-22 record as a mostly young and inexperienced team, but coach Chris Yoakum says this year his team expects to overcome the difficulties of last season.

“We played most teams close, but we did not have a lot of basketball experience,” he said. “I believe we can compete for the league championship this year.”

St. Monica will aim for the record turnaround and a chance at the league title by relying on its top returning players to step forward, the coach said.

Two players who should provide some team strength at the wing position are David White, a five-foot-ten senior, and John Khela, a six-foot-two junior.

Other key returning players on the roster include senior Eric Santos, a six-foot-five forward, and sophomore Bryce Hamaguchi, a five-foot-nine point guard.

“This year we should be solid at the guard,” he said. “We have decent size. The league is small and we should have quite a height advantage.”

Yoakum said practices have been competitive and the team has been preparing since the spring, but in order for the Mariners to make a run at the league crown they will have to accomplish a few things.

The players need to put last year’s record behind them and focus on winning games, especially the games they need to win, he said.

“We need to become a lot tougher as a team,” he said.

If the Mariners expect to rise to the top of the league ranks this season, they will have to win some tough battles, including Mary Star of the Sea High School and defending league champion Bosco Tech High School.

St. Monica will open its new season against Loyola High School in the El Segundo Kiwanis Classic Tuesday, December 7th.