Notebook : Could Eagles Beat Top Teams? It’s Something to Talk About

Share via

Some things don’t seem to make sense.

Take the Chaminade University of Hawaii basketball team.

The Silverswords made national headlines in December when they upset national powerhouses Southern Methodist, ranked No. 4 in the NCAA Division I, and Louisville, ranked No. 12 at the time.

So how do you explain Cal State Los Angeles, an unranked NCAA Division II school, defeating Chaminade twice this season?

The first game (Dec. 14), which Cal State won, 96-80, was played at Molokai High School on the island of Molokai.


The Golden Eagles made it a clean sweep of the Silverswords on Monday with a 66-63 victory at Cal State.

“They’re (Chaminade) a fine basketball team, there’s no question about that,” Coach Jim Newman said, “but that shows to me that when we get ready, we can play with anybody.”

Does that mean that Cal State, a 9-6 team, has the ability to beat powerhouses such as Southern Methodist and Louisville?

Maybe or maybe not, but it sure gives Newman and his team something to talk about.

Michael Johnson of Baldwin Park High School may be more noted as a football player but is making a name on the basketball court.

Just ask Baldwin Park’s opponents, who have seen the 6-3, 175-pound senior reel off a 23-point average this season, including 36 against Rosamond on Dec. 26.

He also leads the team in rebounding and is the major factor in Baldwin Park’s rise to the top of the Montview League standings.


Not surprisingly, Johnson has been recruited as a basketball player. However, don’t expect him to pick basketball over football in college, especially after his outstanding season at quarterback.

He completed 174 of 328 passes for 3,073 yards and 24 touchdowns. The yardage placed him third behind Pat Haden of Bishop Amat and Mike Smith of Los Altos on the all-time, single-season list and helped him win CIF Division III player of the year honors.

With statistics like those, it is no wonder Johnson is being recruited by Arizona State, USC, Arizona, Illinois and Washington State.

More on Johnson: The left-handed quarterback recently was named to the 1984 all-state squad selected by Cal-Hi Sports News of San Jose.

Johnson was one of five San Gabriel Valley players to make the first or second team. Johnson was a first-team selection along with quarterback Richard Bell of Muir and linebacker Derek Nicholson of Damien. Offensive lineman Kevin May of Pomona and wide receiver John Jackson of Bishop Amat were second-team choices.

Bell passed for 1,551 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,335 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jackson caught 46 passes for 677 yards and 8 touchdowns.


In addition, Claremont’s outstanding junior quarterback Mark McGwire was named the state junior player of the year. The 6-8, 210 McGwire completed 132 of 230 passes for 2,242 yards and 24 touchdowns last year.

McGwire was joined on the all-underclassmen team by junior linebacker and running back Jim Jastrab of Los Altos (6-0, 210).

What San Gabriel Valley college basketball team has made the biggest turnaround from last season?

Without a doubt, it is Mt. San Antonio College of Walnut, which had a surprising 16-1 record--including a school-record 15 wins in a row--going into this week.

That’s a far cry from last year when Coach Gene Victor’s squad finished 11-18.

Along the way, the Mounties, ranked No. 3 in the state, have beaten perennial state powers Long Beach, Santa Barbara and Pasadena.