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The Preps : SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BASKETBALL REGIONALS : Division I Boys : Capistrano Valley Goes Against Manual Arts

Times Staff Writer

Capistrano Valley High School, coming off its most impressive victory of the season, and Manual Arts, coming off its only loss of the season, meet in the opening round of the Division I Southern California Regionals at 7:30 tonight at Saddleback College.

Capistrano Valley (24-4) rolled to a 76-49 victory over Irvine in the Southern Section’s 5-A championship game, the third biggest rout in large-school division history.

Capistrano Valley regulars shot 54% from the field before Coach Mark Thornton began clearing his bench in the fourth quarter. Forward Scott McCorkle scored 24 points in 19 minutes of play and guard Bill Mazurie added 17 points.

“When we play like we did against Irvine, we can beat anybody,” Thornton said. “We had a bit of a letdown in our first-round game against Diamond Bar, and then the team decided to turn it up a notch. We’ve played well ever since.”

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Capistrano Valley has 15 consecutive victories since losing to Saddleback, 57-53, in the semifinals of the Orange Holiday tournament. Thornton has compiled a 186-40 record in eight seasons.

Manual Arts (24-1) is still smarting from an 85-72 loss to Crenshaw in the City Section’s 4-A division title game. The loss snapped the Toilers’ 28-game winning streak that spanned two seasons.

Center Kent Bennett is the only returning starter from last year’s state championship team. Bennett scored 25 points in the loss to Crenshaw and is considered the leading candidate to win City player of the year honors.

Randolph Simpson has replaced Reggie Morris as Manual Arts coach after Morris accepted a coaching position at Los Angeles City College. Simpson, an assistant under Morris for five seasons, has the extremely quick Toilers playing man-to-man defense and utilizing a full-court press.

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Forwards Charlo Davis, a streaky shooter, and William Celestine, a great leaper, give the Toilers a solid front line, and junior Marcel Capers runs the offense at point guard.

Manual Arts entered the regionals last year as an at-large entry, after losing to Crenshaw in the City championship, and defeated Bishop Amat, Simi Valley and Crenshaw to earn a berth in Oakland for the state title.

In other Division I play:

Saddleback (27-2) at Fresno Edison (21-6): Center Malru Dottin’s stock has risen dramatically in the playoffs. He scored 27 points and had 15 rebounds in Saddleback’s 62-59 loss to Millikan in the Southern Section’s 5-AA championship game.

Pat Quinn, Saddleback coach, said an assistant from Duke University will be attending tonight’s game and that Purdue, North Carolina-Charlotte and Northwestern have also shown interest in the 6-foot-7 center.

“Malru carried us in the Millikan game,” Quinn said. “The rest of the team got into foul trouble and played differently. Now, we’re looking at the regionals as a second chance.

“I had the team over to my house to watch the title game Sunday night and the players were loose. They’re ready to go to the state title game.”

Edison has won 15 of its past 17 games, including a 72-67 victory over Bakersfield to gain its 15th Central Section title. Forward Bruce Bowen, a gifted outside shooter, is the team’s top player, averaging 21 points.

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