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HIGH SCHOOLS : Notebook : Maybe Butler Deserves Additional Points for Aesthetics on Dunks

Even though he was held to 24 points, Oakwood High’s Mitchell Butler made a definite impression on Montclair Prep co-Coach Bob Webb in the final of the Bel-Air Prep tournament. The Mounties won, 73-45, but Webb was impressed with Butler, especially the 2 dunks by the UCLA-bound senior.

“It’s a good thing dunks are only worth two points,” Webb said. “The first one, he goes up and dunks it and I say ‘OK, no big thing.’ The next time he goes up and does a two-handed reverse dunk.

“If it was a dunk contest, let’s just say it would have been worth a lot more than two points.”

Webb, who played at UCLA in the early 1970s, never managed a two-hand reverse dunk in his career.

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“I told the guys before the game, we could make Mitch look like Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson,” Webb said. “I’d rather have him look like Magic, because he’s not passing to the same people.”

Wait ‘til next year: North Hollywood Coach Steve Miller had no doubt that Dana Jones was the most valuable member of his team, but he may not have realized just how important the 6-6 junior center was until last week’s North Hollywood tournament.

Playing without Jones--who was wearing a cast to protect a severely sprained left wrist and a bone chip--the Huskies (3-3) dropped both of their tournament games, losing to Chatsworth, 69-66, in the first round and to Poly, 61-48, in the consolation semifinals.

“He’s just one of those players who makes everyone else a better player,” Miller said. “Without him, we’re a completely different team.”

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Jones, who is averaging 19 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists a game, won’t be doing it all until at least Jan. 2. That’s when his wrist will be re-examined.

Add injuries: Grant (5-2) also has been hit by injuries, losing starting guard Jamey Ekerling with 3 broken bones in his right foot and starting forward Troy Mcleod with a strained right knee.

Ekerling injured his foot against Reseda in the first round of the North Hollywood tournament when he stepped on an opponent’s foot and is expected to be out until Feb. 1.

Mcleod, Grant’s leading rebounder with a 8.8 average, missed the Lancers’ final game of the tournament but might return for the start of the Birmingham tournament Tuesday.

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Keith Weinstein and Setro Terzian have replaced Ekerling and Mcleod in Grant’s starting lineup.

Sneaking suspicion: Ken Barone, Newbury Park’s basketball coach, had a pretty good idea where a recent conversation was headed. He was asked about his record. And then about which teams the Panthers had beaten. Then he tried to shoot down any conclusions that might have been drawn.

“I certainly wouldn’t want you to say we haven’t played anybody yet because that’s not fair,” Barone said.

Of course, it is too early to tell whether Newbury Park or any of its opponents--Agoura, Calabasas, Saugus, Nordhoff, Righetti and Alemany--are indeed ready for prime time. All of Newbury Park’s opponents so far are designated below Newbury Park’s Southern Section Division 4-AA playoff level. “I don’t think we’ve scared anybody with our wins,” Barone said.

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The Thousand Oaks tournament--with fellow Marmonte League members Camarillo and Thousand Oaks--should provide the Panthers with some idea.

Holding on: John Harbour, Camarillo’s basketball coach, likes to think he has been around. However, what he witnessed in the first round of the Page, Ariz., tournament made him wonder.

After leading, 47-17, at halftime against McClintock of Arizona, the Scorpions nearly fell apart before finally winning, 71-67.

“I’ve lost 15- and 17-point leads before, but I’ve never had a team lose a 30-point lead. It shook me up, to be honest. And I think it shook up the team,” he said.

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After its fine first half, Camarillo was outscored, 171-119, over the remainder of the tournament.

Add Camarillo: David Harbour, the coach’s son and the team’s sophomore point guard, averaged 17.3 points a game but failed to make the all-tournament team. He tied for 10th on the 10-man team but was not listed on one of the ballots, which was the first tie-breaker.

“David wasn’t disappointed, but I was,” Harbour said. “And not just because of David. I thought our team played well enough to be rewarded with an honor like that.”

Noncommittal: Michelle Paul was dropped from the Alemany girls’ basketball team Dec. 8 because, according to Coach Melissa Melton, “Playing basketball has to be an overall commitment and we weren’t getting that.”

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Paul, a 6-foot forward, averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds last season. Melton said that the Indians (4-3) can absorb the loss.

“Michelle’s a great athlete,” she said. “But so far, we’re 4-1 without her and we’ve adjusted OK.”

In over their heads: Last week, Harvard won the Faith Baptist tournament, defeating a plethora of small schools along the way as the team ran its record to 6-2.

This week, to add a little variety, Coach Greg Hilliard entered the team in the Bosco Tech tournament in Rosemead, which features schools such as Los Angeles High--a City Section 3-A Division school--and Bosco Tech, which last season competed in the Del Rey League, then a member of the Southern Section 5-A Division.

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The Saracens took the court against Los Angeles on Monday--and craned their collective neck.

“Their front line was 6-9, 6-7, and 6-7,” Hilliard said.

These were the big boys, and in more way than one. Harvard lost, 100-68. “We wanted to play in a tournament that was a little over our head to see what it’s like to play the better teams,” Hilliard said. “If the first game is any indication, we’re in deep.”

There was an upside. And for Harvard, it was quite literal. Los Angeles was better by leaps and bounds. “We got to see some spectacular dunks,” Hilliard said. “Too bad we were watching it from the floor rather than from the stands.”

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Staff writers Steven Fleischman, Tim Brown, Steve Elling, John Lynch and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.


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