Times Honors Finest Cagers and Coaches : Nina Revoyr of Culver City, Chris Mills of Fairfax Are Westside's Best

Times Staff Writer

Nina Revoyr of Culver City High School and Chris Mills of Fairfax were named the top players, and Jean Edwards of Venice and David Benezra of Crossroads won honors as the best coaches from the Westside at The Times annual basketball awards program.

The ceremony, Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton, saluted 200 prep all-star boys and girls from 10 Southern California areas. George Raveling, USC basketball coach, was the speaker.

Culver City Coach Jon Chapman, whose team tied Hawthorne for the Ocean League championship and finished with a 19-7 overall record, said of Revoyr: "You could make up anything good to say about Nina, and it would probably be true."

Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani, whose Lions were 26-1 and won the Los Angeles City 4-A title, said that every college in the country is after Mills "because they realize the value of having a player like him. He plays within himself and within a team's system or concept."

Edwards established girls basketball at Venice in 1973 and has coached the sport ever since. She has had good teams before, including a City West League champion in the 1970s, but this year's squad was her finest. Although it had to settle for a tie for first with San Pedro and University in the 3-A league, Venice finished with an excellent 18-3 overall record.

Benezra made his first year as Crossroads coach memorable, taking the Roadrunners to a California Division III championship after the team also won CIF-Southern Section 1-A and Southern California regional titles. Overall, the team was 26-5.

A team leader for the last two years, Revoyr, a 5-10 senior, averaged 17.4 points, 10 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game and shot 49% from the field and 72.4% from the foul line.

She might have scored more, Chapman said, "but I think she sacrificed a little bit of her scoring to make the team as good as it could be.

"She could score from the inside or the outside and had a knack of drawing fouls and getting free throws. We did more pressing and fast breaking this year than in the past, and she fit right in with that. She demonstrated leadership and is intelligent."

She also showed her intelligence in the classroom with a 3.92 grade-point average and as co-editor of her school's literary magazine. She is headed for Yale next fall.

Only a junior, the 6-6 1/2 Mills averaged 26.2 points, 12 rebounds, nearly 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. He was named the 4-A Los Angeles City player of the year and, with senior teammate Sean Higgins, was selected a second-team All-American by Parade magazine.

Kitani said that although Mills played within himself, he would usually wind up as the team's top scorer and rebounder, "and they were usually key baskets and key rebounds."

The Fairfax coach said that more than 100 colleges are interested in Mills and that Bobby Knight, coach of Indiana's 1987 NCAA champions, is coming out to see the big junior play in a spring league.

A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Edwards also earned a master's degree from the University of Illinois. Before coming to Venice to coach softball and basketball, she coached girls tennis at Bonita High School in La Verne. She has also taught at Griffith and Curtiss junior high schools in Los Angeles.

Lyle Swanson, who has gone back to teaching physical education at Venice after serving as the school's athletic director for the last decade, said that Edwards "did an outstanding coaching job this year."

"She really didn't have the height on her team to have the kind of record she had," Swanson said. "She had to coach a little differently than those who have the big players. Other good teams usually have a dominant player. But she didn't, and she made her players into a real team."

Edwards has also had strong teams in softball. In 1985, her team went to the 3-A City finals, and in 1980, Venice was undefeated in winning a City West League championship.

Crossroads, which appeared in its sixth consecutive Southern Section title game this year and has won four CIF championships, has been to the state finals before, twice under former Coach Elliot Turret, who resigned after his team failed to win a state championship last year. But this year's California Division III title was the school's first.

Not a bad debut for Benezra, 32, who inherited some excellent players from Turret. Some of the Crossroads stars this year--including Chris Brown, David Wolfe and Mike Arnold--had played last year for Benezra on a strong summer-league team, the L.A. Metropolitan Rockfish. In 1985, Benezra coached the Rockfish to the Amateur Athletic Union national championship for boys ages 17 and younger.

But Benezra, a graduate of University High School who attended Cal State Long Beach and George Williams College in Illinois, also inherited a team that had graduated both starting guards from last year, Marc Rudolph and Keith Davis. He converted Brown and Matt Bailey from forwards to guards, and they rewarded him with excellent seasons. Brown, Bailey and 6-8 center Wolfe were named to the All-CIF 1-A first team, and Brown was the 1-A player of the year.

Though he is new at Crossroads, Benezra said that he has been coaching for more than a decade, including club basketball in the off-season and stints as an assistant coach at Fairfax, St. Bernard and Ontario high schools.

He said that a Delphic League loss to Bel-Air Prep "was the key to the whole season. Our kids came out flat, and Bel-Air Prep played very well and beat us by one point." After that, he added, "the kids had our total attention. Previous to that game, we were a very slow-starting team; after that we always got out to a great start." And a great finish.

Besides Revoyr, players on the 1987 All-Westside girls team are La Tisha Burnett of Venice, Lisa Cohen of Westlake, Jenise (Necie) Cooley of Venice, Jessica Fairbanks of Fairfax, Roxanne Owens of Crossroads, Kesha T. Martin of University, Trisha Stafford of Westchester, Leah Stevenson of Notre Dame Academy and Tina Tamura of Beverly Hills.

Members of the boys team with Mills are Jeff Bronner of Palisades, Brown of Crossroads, J.D. Green and Higgins of Fairfax, Oliver Lang of Venice, Zan Mason of Westchester, Jason Matthews of St. Monica, Danny Price of Santa Monica and Brian C. Williams of St. Monica.

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