JUST WHEN YOU thought color was no longer a part of your Catholic League main-sports life . . .

Say hello to a Red/Blue alignment again.

Two divisions named after colors were ditched for football in favor of three divisions reflecting enrollment groups (AAAA, AAA and AA) when the CL joined the PIAA as a full-fledged member this school year. They're baaaaaack for basketball, though, as AAA and AA schools have been merged into one division for the regular season.

Thankfully, there still will be an overall champion.

We know your burning question: Who's the favorite to hoist the plaque? We don't know the answer, but a respectable guess is Ss. Neumann-Goretti.

The Saints boast two Division I commits in junior wing guard Tony Chennault (Wake Forest) and 6-9 senior center Andre "Scooter" Gillette (Niagara). Also, junior forward Daniel Stewart is one of the league's upper-echelon returnees.

Chennault long has been considered a quality shooter. Now, from the other side, Mustafaa Jones is showing his sniping prowess (eight treys in a recent game). Tyreek Duren is the floor leader.

One negative: The Saints are part of Blue and many (most?) of its division games will be unchallenging. They'll try to stay motivated by remembering the sting of suffering an upset in last year's playoffs.

Did someone say upset? Roman Catholic, after going 14-0, was also shocked in the quarterfinal round.

If not at the top in Red, the Cahillites figure to push hard. The far-and-away headliner is guard Maalik Wayns, a Villanova signee with a lofty national profile. Providing points, rebounds and highlight-reel dunks will be Koron Reed, a transfer from Freire Charter (and formerly of West Catholic).

North Catholic, the '08 champ, is expected to again make a run. Maybe even a full-out sprint.

Many contributors are back, and scoring swingman Jack O'Neill has arrived by transfer (from Episcopal Academy) and 6-8 Rakeem Christmas has blossomed into one of the hottest names on national talent scouts' lists of top sophomores.

Looking for one more team of danger? Go with Archbishop Carroll. Instead of a year away, this frisky group might be months.

Six teams in Red and Blue will make the playoffs. First-round byes will go to the top two in each division and cross-overs, as in the ol' North-South format, will take place in the semifinals.

If you're thinking ahead to District 12 (in conjunction with the Public League) and/or state playoffs, all teams in Red are AAAA. In Blue, six are AAA while Bishop McDevitt, Kennedy-Kenrick and West Catholic are AA.

There is one new team, Lansdale Catholic, where the coach is former La Salle High boss Bernie Fitzgerald. The other new coaches are Tim Kelly, Cardinal O'Hara; Chris McNesby, Roman; and Sean Tait, Archbishop Wood (with Joe Sette on sabbatical). *