PREP REVIEW : Mater Dei Players Prove They Know Score Too

Before they played in the Southern California Regional Division I boys' basketball championship game Friday night, Long Beach Poly players reminded Mater Dei of their previous meeting this season.

During warmups, Poly players wore T-shirts with a scoreboard on it that read: "Poly 54, Mater Dei 47," the final score in the Tournament of Champions final in December. Printed underneath the scoreboard was "Tournament of Champions champion."

"Our kids all noticed the shirts," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "I told the kids, 'If they take that much pride in beating us that they put the score on a shirt, then it's a tribute to us.' I thought they (Poly) were kind of saying, 'In your face.' "

Mater Dei got the best of Poly Friday night, however. Jason Quinn's off-balance three-point basket with 1.8 seconds left gave the Monarchs a 46-45 victory.

No T-shirts have been designed for Mater Dei.

Add Mater Dei: McKnight was exhausted Saturday morning. He had just coached his team to three playoff victories in the last four days against some of the toughest competition in the state.

So how did he relax? He and assistant coaches Dave Taylor and Phil Bellomo flew to San Francisco Saturday to scout San Francisco Riordan's 80-60 victory over Oakland Skyline in the Northern California Regional Division I finals. Mater Dei (33-1) will play Riordan in the state championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum.

"The northern regional was very comparable to the south," McKnight said. "Riordan is very balanced, very comparable to us. We should match up well."

The scouting trip capped a long week of basketball for McKnight.

"I've seen so much basketball in the last week," McKnight said. "I watched a tape of the Poly game and I saw two tired teams out there. David Boyle ran by the bench three minutes into the game and his tongue was hanging out.

"We beat the 3-A City champs (North Hollywood), the 4-A City champs (Manual Arts) and the (Southern Section) 5-AA champs (Poly) in a four-day span. That was a tough road for us. I'm really proud of the kids."

Hold the pineapple: In case you were wondering, here's what the Dos Pueblos basketball players ordered on their pizzas Friday night: pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage and pineapple.

Five of the Chargers' 12 players, including four starters, suffered from food poisoning, presumably from the pizzas, and lost to Servite Saturday in the Southern California Regional Division III title game. Leading scorer Chris Gaines missed the first half because he was sick.

"I think the pineapple was the problem," Charger forward Adam Estabrook said.

Ask Aunt Carol: Last week, Brea-Olinda girls' Coach Mark Trakh got a strange welcome from several seventh- and eighth-grade students.

"I go to my junior high basketball class and I've got these kids coming up to me saying, 'Hey, are you going to be the men's coach at North Carolina State?' " Trakh said.

"I just played along with the joke and said, 'Yeah, I'm going to get $80,000 a year. How did you guys find out? It was supposed to be a secret.' "

A reply from one of the students: "My Aunt Carol told me."

It seems Aunt Carol was watching a cable telecast of a Brea-Olinda game and announcers pegged Trakh as a replacement for Coach Jim Valvano. Valvano's future at North Carolina State has been in question since an NCAA investigation and allegations of point-shaving.

"Before the telecast, the announcer asked if I was going to be here (Brea) next year or if I was looking for a college job," Trakh said. "In jest, I said, 'If Valvano gets fired I'll be there. They said, 'I look like him, so they're going to hire me.'

"So the (announcer) doesn't even crack a smile and that night in the telecast it was reported that I was being considered for the job and it was all a quip. It was a joke and it was taken seriously."

At least by Aunt Carol.

Star search: The Lakers and Kings aren't the only teams drawing famous fans lately. In attendance at a recent Brea-Olinda girls' basketball game were Angels Wally Joyner and Dick Schofield and former Angel Rick Burleson.

Trakh said Burleson has attended a couple of Brea's games. He brought Joyner and Schofield along Thursday night for Brea's Southern California Regional Division III girls' semifinal victory over Lemoore.

Why the interest?

Burleson owns a center in Orange County where some of the Brea-Olinda players go for physical therapy, Trakh said.

Los Amigos basketball Coach Famous Hooks has resigned because of personal reasons.

He had a 33-58 record in four years at Los Amigos. His best season was 15-11 in 1986-87.

Hooks will continue to teach at the school.

Shad Vickers earned a reputation as a tough running back during his junior season at Irvine High School, but he will change uniforms, and possibly positions, as a senior.

Vickers, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder, transferred from Irvine to Tustin when his family moved into Tustin's district during the semester break.

Vickers gained 698 yards in 171 carries and scored six touchdowns last season at Irvine. Coach Marijon Ancich said Vickers could fit in at a number of positions with Tustin.

"He has running-back ability and was an exceptional wide receiver as a sophomore," Ancich said. "And with his speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) he can play in the defensive secondary. They didn't use him on defense much at Irvine, but we plan to try him there."

No matter where he plays, Vickers will be a welcome addition for the Tillers (7-5), who reached the Southern Section Division VI quarterfinals last season.

"He's got a good work ethic," Ancich said. "You get some of these transfers and they're hard to live with. But he will fit right in.

"We're fortunate to get a guy of this caliber."

Prep Notes

Krista Hartling, a member of The Times' All-County volleyball team, has accepted a scholarship to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Hartling, a 5-4 outside hitter, averaged nine kills and three blocks a game last season. . . . Former University High runner Greg Whiteley has qualified for the International Amateur Athletic Federation World Cross-Country championships March 25 in France. Whiteley, who graduated from Brown last year, finished ninth in the U.S. cross-country trials Feb. 10 to qualify.

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