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Schwan’s High Notes Lift Unsung Westlake

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

One of these nights, Kurt Schwan will slip off his Westlake High basketball warm-ups, step to the microphone and belt out a snappy rendition of the national anthem. To believe Schwan, it’s going to happen.

“Singing is just something I love to do,” he says.

But his impending courtside recital is not the only reason the 1988-89 season could be referred to as Westlake’s Schwan song. Schwan is a senior, so this season marks his last chance to help the Warriors win their first Marmonte League basketball championship since joining the league in 1980. Westlake Coach Greg Hess has made numerous references to that drought and they have not been lost on Schwan.

Schwan, 6 feet, 8 inches, is averaging 20.9 points and 12 rebounds a game, and the Warriors are 10-6 overall, 3-1 in league play--a game behind upstart Camarillo. By virtue of his 23-point, 12-rebound performance against Simi Valley on Friday, Schwan helped end the Pioneers’ 31-game league winning streak. More importantly, the win knocked Simi Valley out of first place. Earlier in the week he scored 19 points in a 72-64 win over Royal.

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“It was about time for them,” Schwan said of Simi Valley. “It meant a lot to me, especially, and Peter Mladina and Mike Waggoner, because we were on last year’s team, which came very close to beating them at home.”

Schwan creates problems defensively because he is 2 inches taller than anyone else in the league.

“It was hard for us to match up with him because of his size,” Simi Valley Coach Dean Bradshaw said. “I didn’t think he dominated the game, but I thought he had a good game. He’s a good player, no doubt about it.”

Mike Wawryk, Simi Valley’s 6-5 center, was impressed with Schwan’s ability to operate outside the key.

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“He’s a good outside shooter,"Wawryk said. “If you leave him open, he’ll hit the shot.”

It is becoming apparent that if you wait long enough, Schwan and Westlake will catch up with you. Just as Westlake took a long time to finally defeat Simi Valley, Schwan did not score a point against the Pioneers until the second quarter. The early game deficiency has become a trend, much to the dismay of Schwan and his coach.

“He does go through a bit of a lapse,” Hess said.

Schwan is at a loss to explain his slow starts.

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“I don’t know what it is,” said Schwan, who signed a letter of intent earlier this season with Weber State of the Big Sky Conference. “I get it rolling in the second half but can’t get it going in the first. I think that maybe I don’t feel the pressure to produce in the first half. It’s weird. I’ve got all kinds of things going through my head. But when it’s time to play basketball, it’s time to play basketball.”

And it’s time to play basketball when the national anthem’s done.


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