Basketball Notebook : Big Front Line Gives the Edge to Occidental

Bill Westphal was looking forward to having his Occidental College team play conference rival Claremont in the final of the Tiger Classic tournament last weekend at Occidental. So much so that when Occidental beat Christ College of Irvine, 110-64, Westphal only briefly scouted Claremont's opponent--East Connecticut State.

However, East Connecticut defeated Claremont, 87-79, before losing to Occidental in the final, 79-62.

Westphal said the front line was a key to the Tigers' success.

"John Keister, John Crawley and Chris Anderson became a factor," Westphal said. "That was the edge that we had in the tourney that the other teams didn't."

Keister, who averaged 25 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games, was named the tournament's most valuable player. Occidental guard John Cartoni, who averaged 16 points, was named to the all-tournament team.

Which way coach?: After coaching six quarters of basketball, Flintridge Sacred Heart High varsity and junior varsity coach Isabella Seplecha wasn't surprised by her confusion. But when Marymount was called for a technical foul against her varsity team, sending Erin Konrad to the free throw line, it was the referees that proved incompetent, she said.

"They sent her to the wrong basket to shoot the technical," Seplecha said. "After six quarters of basketball, I just thought my brain was a little fried."

Konrad converted one of two free throws and Flintridge Sacred Heart (3-7) scored the next basket--at the wrong end of the court. The mistake was then caught, Seplecha said, and Konrad was made to reshoot the free throws at the correct basket, making both. But Flintridge Sacred Heart failed to score on the inbound pass, costing them a point.

Marymount won, 29-25.

Trading places: Melinda O'Brien, who injured her back during the preseason, has averaged 17 points a game since returning to the La Canada High lineup in mid-December. The La Canada front line suffered another loss Friday when forward Yolanda Davidian was sidelined with a bone chip in her right ankle.

Homeless: The Marshall High gymnasium has been under reconstruction this season, leaving teams searching for places to practice and play. But Marshall girls' coach Beth Ercek believes her team's nomadic style has become somewhat of an advantage.

"At first I thought it was a real disadvantage for the girls," Ercek said. "But when we go to a visiting gym it's not so much different from everywhere else now."

Changing of the guard: Kevin Kowalski moved into the Glendale lineup two games ago, replacing David Monarch. Kowalski, a 6-0 senior, has been particularly effective on defense.

"He's been guarding the best guard on the other team and doing a good job defensively," Coach Bob Davidson said. "Kevin handles the ball a little bit better. David can play guard or forward and gives us a little bit of a lift off the bench with his aggressiveness."

Two tough ones: The Crescenta Valley High boys' team (8-7) suffered two crucial losses last week. The Falcons lost to La Canada for the first time in 15 years, 58-55. They then dropped a 59-57 overtime decision to Pasadena in a Pacific League opener.

Zero for last week: St. Francis had Del Rey League losses last week to Notre Dame (61-54), Alemany (74-69) and Loyola (98-89). But emerging among the ruins was 6-1 forward Allan Freemon.

Freemon scored 26 points against Loyola and is averaging 14 points a game. Aaron Villegas and Frank Lagatutta are averaging 16 and 15.8 points, respectively.

"Freemon's been a nice surprise," Coach John Jordan said. "We knew that Lagatutta and Villegas would be strong. We're looking for him to shoot a little more this year."

Add St. Francis: Starting forward Jeff Dyrek suffered a sprained ankle in practice last Monday and has not played in a league game. Dyrek, the team's only returning starter, was averaging 9.5 points and 8 rebounds a game.

Add 0 for 3: The Crescenta Valley girls' team also had three losses last week, including a 37-35 Pacific League game against Glendale. The Falcons (4-7) have lost their last five games. "Our kids are not mentally tough," Coach Alan Eberhart said. "We're young and I think they believe in what we're doing. But they're just not doing it."

Good news, bad news: Coach Allana Wark had to take the bad with the good when her Holy Family team lost to Alverno, 27-21, last week. Holy Family (2-7, 0-2 in the Horizon League) stole the ball four times in the final minute of the game, but missed 4 layups and 6 free throws.

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