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The High Schools : Bell-Jeff, Notre Dame to Square Off in League’s Inaugural Showdown

It might not be worthy of Super Bowl-type hype, but Saturday night’s San Fernando Valley League showdown between Bell-Jeff and visiting Notre Dame promises to be a super shoot-out.

The first-year rivals in the fledgling league are 3-0 in league play and playing at the top of their games.

Bell-Jeff (15-1) is led by 4 senior scoring threats--Nick Sanderson (22.9 points a game), Greg Dunn (15.9), Chris Dyer (12.1) and Ray Witt (10.3).

Notre Dame (9-8) is coming off a 101-40 thumping of former Del Rey League rival Alemany, and although the Knights have struggled to surpass the .500 mark, Coach Mick Cady says that the hard times are in the past.

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“Our guys,” Cady said emphatically, “are still hungry to gain a little respect.”

Senior forwards Brian Jones and Ken Hicks have dominated for the Knights. Jones is averaging 25.2 points a game. Hicks, who has recovered from a preseason ankle injury, is averaging 19.8 over 7 games.

“Jones is going to shoot it, Hicks is going to shoot it,” Bell-Jeff Coach Joe Dunn said. “You got to pay attention to both of them.”

Other league coaches are paying close attention to the 7 p.m. game. The winner will be the front-runner for the league championship.

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“It’ll either be a close game that can go either way, or Notre Dame will blow them out,” Chaminade Coach Mike Lynn said. “But with Bell-Jeff, you’ve got to be able to score because they can score from anywhere.”

Said St. Genevieve Coach Scott Smith: “I think Notre Dame is a little stronger, but I think it will be close.”

Pioneer chicken: Ever trendy, Simi Valley has added to its basketball games one of those cute mascots that are all the rage. The problem is that Simi Valley’s true mascot, the Pioneer, isn’t all that cuddly--it looks more like Davey Crockett after a 3-day hike.

So, this season, a 6-foot chicken, dressed beak to claw in yellow feathers, struts around Simi Valley’s gym and high-fives players, schmoozes with the cheerleaders and generally whips the place into a frenzy.

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Actually, the most humorous part of the Simi Valley chicken’s shake and bake is when it merely stands in proximity to Mike Wawryk, the Pioneers’ 6-5 center. Wawryk and the chicken, which also dons a Simi Valley uniform, wear the same number--31. The chicken, however, wears an away uniform, which brought the inevitable question to Wawryk: “Do you switch uniforms on the road?”

Wawryk said that they didn’t share Pioneer duds and added, “I think it’s nice. I thought it was funny when I first saw it.”

Apparently, Wawryk gets a little ribbing from his teammates.

No panic yet: Three losses in 5 Marmonte League games for Newbury Park have been somewhat of a surprise for a team that was 9-2 entering league play, but the Panthers are not fretting. In fact, a mention of the dry spell brought only a promise from forward Wayne Cook, the team leader in scoring and rebounds.

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“We’re going to be there,” he said matter-of-factly.

By there , Cook meant in the race for the league title. But to get there, Newbury Park must start in Camarillo, where tonight the Panthers will play the Scorpions (4-1 in league play).

Big Ten bound: Chaminade lineman Steve Rosen (6-3, 245) has verbally committed to attend Northwestern after visiting the Big Ten school last week. Rosen also had been recruited by New Mexico State, Rutgers and the Naval Academy but made a decision after his only visit.

The frown of renown: There is a more than passing resemblance between Cleveland forward Bobby McRae and former NBA star Maurice Lucas, whose scowl was as legendary as his bruising style of play.

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First, there are the facial similarities. “I never really thought about it that way, but I can see it,” Cleveland Coach Bob Braswell said. “I guess he does look a little like Lucas.”

Second, there is the intimidation factor. Like Lucas, who before his retirement last season was often called the meanest man in the NBA, McRae has the look of a hit man when on the court.

“Bobby has the ultimate game face,” Braswell said. “When he’s on the court, he does not smile. He’s very intense.”

McRae, a 6-4 junior, is also Cleveland’s best defensive player and routinely guards the opposition’s best front-line player. He has been no offensive liability, however. McRae has made 28 of 54 field-goal attempts (53%) and is averaging 7.9 rebounds a game while playing in the shadow of Division I-bound Warren Harrell (New Mexico State) and Lucious Harris (Cal State Long Beach).

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When Braswell looks at McRae, he is reminded of another Cleveland player known for his intensity.

“Personally, I think he looks like Trevor,” Braswell said of 1986 graduate Trevor Wilson, now a starting forward at UCLA.

Missing Lancers: Perusers of basketball box scores may have noticed that guard Nate Conner and forward Sean Watkins did not start for Grant (10-3, 2-1) in last week’s 57-51 victory over Reseda.

Although Conner and Watkins were benched for disciplinary reasons, neither player was really in Lancer Coach Howard Levine’s doghouse.

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“It was nothing drastic,” Levine said. “But both players missed a practice last week. . . . We have a rule that if you miss a practice, you don’t start in the next game.”

Conner and Watkins both started in Grant’s 58-38 victory over Van Nuys last Friday.

Add Grant: Levine has been pleased with the recent play of junior forward Setro Terzian, who scored 19 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in 2 games last week.

“He’s finally starting to assert himself,” Levine said. “He took it upon himself to take the initiative at the offensive end of the court against Reseda and it showed.”

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Staff writers Tim Brown, Steve Elling, John Ortega and Vince Kowalick contributed to this notebook.


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