Is Simi Valley like a garden with uneven soil?
Do all the tallest kids grow on the Simi Valley High side of the valley while only runts are raised on the Royal High side?
After Simi Valley's convincing 72-57 win at Royal Friday night in the Marmonte League opener for both teams, it appeared so.
There was 6-8 Simi Valley center Don MacLean with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
There was 6-5 Simi Valley forward Shawn DeLaittre scoring 20 points and getting 10 rebounds.
There was Simi Valley guard Mike Hankins, only 6-0 but a giant of a shooter, scoring 20 points.
And, in the end, there was a disheartened group of Royal Highlanders who had played about as well as they could, especially in the first half when the they shot 69%, falling to 5-6 overall.
Simi Valley is 13-1 and appears to be one of the most dominating teams in the Southern Section.
Yet it turns out the big kids are raised on the Royal side. Big kids like Don MacLean.
MacLean, a sophomore, lives in the Royal attendance area. He was allowed to attend Simi Valley because his mother teaches in the Simi Valley Unified School District, of which Simi Valley and Royal Highs are members.
"It is district policy to allow the children of someone who teaches in the district to go to the school of their choice," said Allan Jacobs, an assistant superintendent in the district. "It is a privilege we extend to the families of teachers."
MacLean's mother teaches in the district. And because Don has played under Simi Valley Coach Bob Hawking in youth leagues since the third grade, he chose to attend Simi Valley.
Where does Don's mother teach?
At Royal High.
"We fought the transfer all the way to the superintendent's office," Royal Athletic Director Glenn Lipman said. "I've known Don was a special athlete since he was in the sixth grade and my wife was his teacher. But it's policy."
Simi Valley assistant Coach Dean Bradshaw said that the MacLean family would have moved to the Simi Valley attendance area had the transfer been denied.
"There was no doubt all along that Don would go to Simi Valley High," Bradshaw said. "It's nothing against Royal. Jack McCrory is a fine coach. But Don's parents liked what they saw in the relationship Bob Hawking had developed over the years with Don."
Said Jacobs: "The family told me they would move if it came to that. It was awkward only because Don is so good. If Royal had him, they would probably be unbeaten."
Friday's game was a good example of what MacLean means to a team. Although Royal made 16 of 23 field-goal attempts in the first half, Simi Valley led, 38-36, because MacLean rebounded on six of the Highlanders' seven missed shots.
Said McCrory: "He's 6-8. I don't have anyone 6-8 or 6-7 or 6-6 or 6-5. Maybe 6-4. Maybe."
MacLean, who is averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds a game, also has a deft touch from outside, especially for someone his size. He made four straight shots from 12 to 20 feet in the second quarter to counter Royal's best rally.
Senior guard Brent Tapia made five of six field-goal attempts in the second quarter for Royal en route to a game-high 23 points. Manny Escobar a junior guard, and Louie Velasquez, a senior guard, also shot well for Royal. Escobar scored 13 points and Velasquez scored all of his eight points in the second quarter.
Royal, which won the Ventura tournament last week for the school's first tournament title ever, ran out of gas in the second half.
The Highlanders made only 6 of 17 shots in the third quarter and 3 of 16 in the fourth to finish 25 of 56. Simi kept plugging along, making 12 of 25 after halftime to extend its lead to 60-50 after three quarters. The final score marked Simi's largest lead of the game.
DeLaittre scored 16 points in the second half, including 6 of 6 free throws.
There were so many people at this intracity rivalry that the P.A. announcer requested that fans squeeze in so that more fans could find seats.
SIMI VALLEY--Gates 6; DeLaittre 20 and 10 rebounds; MacLean 16 and 13 rebounds; Hankins 20; Johnson 0 and 7 assists; Bice 4 and 6 assists; Jenner 4; Wilcox 2.
ROYAL--Blanks 6; Escobar 13; Yarrell 2 and 6 rebounds; Velasquez 8; Tapia 23; Noone 5.