The chase begins: Which basketball team can overthrow the Centennial?

There is no question which men’s basketball team has everyone’s respect when the season kicks off next week. And no. 1 Corona Centennial, the two-time reigning champion of the Southern Section Open Division.

“They set the bar,” said Studio City Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo. “We know the road goes through the Centennial Crown.”

Added Chatsworth Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier: “Corona Centennial just kicked us in the ass [last season]. Everyone needs an antagonist and we definitely have one. “

So which team is best placed to find a way to defeat the Huskies, led by Duke-related Jared McCain, and UCLA-related Devin Williams?

Harvard-Westlake is that team. The Wolverines lost to the Huskies in last season’s final and have been successful against them in recent years. Brady Dunlap, tied to Notre Dame, talented 6-foot-8 center Jacob Huggins and second-year 6-8 up Nikolas Khamenia are back. But the key to overcoming the Centennial is the improvement of young guards Trent Perry and Robert Hinton. They got bigger, stronger and wiser.

Perry, point guard 6-4, must take on more responsibility.

“I gained 15 pounds over the summer,” Perry said. “I’ve been in the weight room at least four times a week. I have matured a lot. This year we will find everyone on the field, we will find shooters, we will find the great men “.

Let’s look at the top 25 preseason teams:

1. CENTENNIAL CROWN: Coach Josh Giles adds point guard Mike Price, a transfer from Sierra Canyon, to a group of veterans accustomed to winning in big games. McCain enters the season ranked as No. 1 player in California.

2. STUDIO CITY HARVARD-WESTLAKE: Wolverines have dimensions, shooters, chemistry, depth and the desire to finish on top.

3. CHATSWORTH SIERRA CANYON: It’s Bronny James’s senior year. If he remains injury free, he should be the best. The big questions are how long will the Trailblazers’ annual transfer group take to mesh and will they agree to put the team in place of individual results?

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Dusty Stromer is back for his senior season.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame’s Dusty Stromer is back for his senior season.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

4. SHERMAN OAKS NOTRE DAME: With the trio of guards of Dusty Stromer (Gonzaga commit), Caleb Foster (Duke) and Mercy Miller (Houston), the Knights have firepower. Much will depend on whether 6-7 Jayden Harper is able to deliver consistent rebounds.

5. SANTA ANA MATER DEI: Monarchs may have the best freshman group anywhere, led by 6-6 Che Brogan, son of former great monarch Tom Lewis. By the end of the season, Mater Dei will be very dangerous.

6. TORRANCE BISHOP MONTGOMERY: Veteran coach Doug Mitchell has a lot of talent to work with, which means opponents are in trouble. Will Smith is a 6-4 senior who plays at the top of his lungs.

7. SANTA CLARITA WEST RANCH: As far as talent is concerned, this team is right up there with the best. But can West Ranch players get along well on and off the pitch? Transfer Jazz Gardner joins top returnees James Evans, Andrew Meadow and Jaqari Miles.

8. TEMECULA RANCHO CHRISTIAN: 6-11 Martin Gumwel is busy on Pepperdine, 6-6 point guard Rodney Brown should be headed for Pac-12, and Cologne transfer Kollen Murphy helps a lot.

9. RIVERSIDE POLY: The Bears were a big surprise last season and are poised to unleash Brayden Burries’ second year 6-5.

10. BELL ST. JOHN BOSCO: It’s the second year for talented point guard Elzie Harrington and 6-7 forward Kade Bonam. Add top three-point shooter Jack Turner and transfer 6-9 Xinyl Li and you have a team capable of winning the Trinity League.

11. MORENO VALLEY RANCHO VERDE: 6-10 Jacob McFarland was one of the rising stars of the summer, giving the Mustangs a real showpiece to build on.

12. PLAYA DEL REY ST. BERNARD: Guard Tyler Rolison returns, but the most intriguing newcomer is Tahj Ariza, son of former Westchester High and NBA player Trevor Ariza.

13. ETIWANDA: Yes, the Eagles can play defense. Returnees Curtis Williams and Jimmy Baker will look to add the necessary offensive firepower.

14. SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO JSERRA: Sebastian Rancik, 6-9 junior, has a chance to be the best Trinity League player.

15. NORTH HILLS HERITAGE CHRISTIAN: Young and talented, Heritage Christian added guard Giovanni Goree from Calabasas Viewpoint and two freshmen, 6-2 guard DeLan Grant and 7-2 Howie Wu. Tae Simmons, 6-7 sophomores, has a 41-inch vertical jump.

Brothers Marcus (left) and Maximo Adams are Narbonne's best players this season.

Brothers Marcus (left) and Maximo Adams are Narbonne’s best players this season. Marcus is a young man, Maximo a freshman.

(Marcello Fletcher)

16. HARBOR CITY NARBONNE: Coach Anthony Hilliard has been on medical leave, but assistant Kumase DeMesma did well in the off-season, aided by the addition of the Adams brothers, 6-8 Marcus and 6-6 Maximo.

17. SANTA MARGARITA: Eagles have size, led by 6-8 Rockwell Reynolds. Freshman Brayden Kyman, the brother of former UCLA guard Jake Kyman, can have an immediate impact.

18. ANAHEIM CANYON: With five starters behind, the Comanches are your favorite neighborhood team. Second year Brandon Benjamin is hard to stop when he puts the ball in.

19. STUDIO CITY CAMPBELL HALL: Junior guard Aaron Powell is the real deal. He can score three points or go to the basket. Not since the days of the Holiday brothers have the Vikings not been favorites to win the Gold Coast League.

20. THE CANADA ST. FRANCIS. Senior point guard Jackson Mosley has fought against the best in the Mission League for three years and reckons he can handle himself against elite competition.

21. LONG BEACH POLY: The Jackrabbits are building around 6-5 according to Jovani Ruff.

22. ONTARIO COLONY: 6-6 Denzel Hines leads a team that is always competitive and well trained.

23. SUN VALLEY VILLAGE CHRISTIAN: The Crusaders will rely on reigning Division 2-AA player of the year Immanuel Taylor, an extraordinary point guard.

24. SANTA MONICA CROSSROADS: Nils Cooper, Solo Bailey, Isaiah Chappell, Zion Watt and Coco Britt offer experience and tenacity.

25. PARK OF OAKS. 6-7 senior Isaiah Sherrard is a great great man for a program that is always good.