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Northridge’s Chevalier Makes a Good Point in a Backcourt Start

Andre Chevalier responded to his first start at point guard for Cal State Northridge with his best game of the season.

In a season-high 30 minutes against Montana State on Saturday, the freshman from Cleveland High scored nine points, dished out six assists and made six steals.

Chevalier’s presence allowed Keith Gibbs to move from point guard to small forward and score a team-high 19 points.

The 5-foot-8 Chevalier is a quick study. He went from throwing up an air ball in the opener against Colorado and making two turnovers in three minutes against Colorado State to scoring 10 points against Northern Arizona and coming within a steal of tying the school record in the Montana State game.

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“At first I wasn’t into it mentally,” Chevalier said. “I had the freshmen jitters.”

Chevalier’s chief concern is cutting down on his average of 4.5 turnovers a game.

“It is nerves and lack of experience,” said CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy. “Decision-making is critical and it gets more difficult in the up-tempo game. He is coming along, though. You can always rely on him to go hard. He is feisty.”

Chevalier is such a competitor that few would notice that he was born with a deformed left hand. He also is almost legally blind in his right eye.

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“The people in the (CSUN equipment room) didn’t know until yesterday,” said Chevalier of his hand. “It doesn’t affect my shooting at all, but I do have to concentrate a little harder when I dribble.”

The ultimate indignity: Nothing went right for the Matadors in their 104-78 loss to Montana State. They even incurred the wrath of the officiating crew.

After warning the Matadors that they were taking too long during timeouts, an official put the ball down on the floor and started counting to five, forcing CSUN to inbound the ball hurriedly.

But that was only the beginning. After the next timeout, the official allowed Montana State to inbound the ball while the Matadors were still in the huddle. The Bobcats scored on an uncontested layup.

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First impressions: It is fortunate that Keith Gibbs and David Keeter don’t let first impressions last. The first time they met, on opposite sides of a state community college quarterfinal playoff game last March, they went after each other.

“We almost got into a fight,” said Keeter, who was playing for El Camino College. “We were throwing elbows and talking trash. The refs had to break it up.”

Following the final buzzer, a 97-90 win by Keeter’s El Camino team over Gibbs’ West Valley team, the pair shook hands.

Six months later, they were CSUN teammates.

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Injury update: Jason Webster, the second-leading scorer on The Master’s basketball team, will miss two to three weeks with a sprained left ankle he sustained last week in a loss to San Francisco State.

Newest Aggies: When New Mexico State signed Antelope Valley’s Tony Madison and Moorpark’s Sam Crawford, the Aggies got the long and the short of Valley-area junior college guards.

Madison is a long-bombing gunner whose shooting range extends well beyond the three-point line, and the 5-foot-7 Crawford, though short in stature, has engendered high hopes at New Mexico State.

“The first thing everybody asks about Sam is his size. What we’ve got to explain about Sam is that he’ll be fine despite his size,” said Gar Forman, a New Mexico State assistant in charge of recruiting. “He’s one of the best passers I’ve seen in a couple of years.”

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Randy Brown, New Mexico State’s starting point guard, is in his final season of eligibility, and Forman said the team has struggled with outside shooting.

“We’re looking to Sam to run our point, and we’re looking to Tony to shoot it,” Forman said.

Crawford’s signing has also evoked memories of another diminutive New Mexico State star, 5-foot-8 Charlie Criss, who helped the Aggies reach the NCAA Final Four in 1970 and played professionally for several years.

Two for five: In the five years the Harlon Hill Trophy has been awarded to the top football player in NCAA Division II, only two schools have winners. Northridge isn’t one of them. Tailback Albert Fann, the Matadors’ latest nominee, finished fourth in the voting this season.

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Texas A&I;'s Johnny Bailey won from 1987-89, North Dakota State’s Jeff Bentrim won in 1986 and quarterback Chris Simdorn this season became that school’s second winner.

Simdorn, who guided North Dakota State to a national championship, got 29 first-place votes, 11 seconds and 14 thirds. Fann got eight first-place votes, eight seconds and 18 thirds.

Edinboro (Pa.) wide receiver Ernie Priester was second in the voting, followed by Mississippi College tailback Fred McAfee.

Statwatch: The Antelope Valley women’s basketball team set a school single-game scoring record Monday night with 110 points against Victor Valley. Six players scored in double figures. . . .

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Tony Williams, Ventura College freshman running back, finished with a school-record 943 rushing yards. He was given the outstanding back award at the team’s recent banquet. . . .

Antelope Valley’s J.R. Rider had five dunks in the first half Monday night against Victor Valley as UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian watched.

Record rewrite: Tailback Steve Miller, tight end Thomas Reimer, wide receiver David Brown, and quarterback Marty Washington of Antelope Valley all moved into the top 10 on various Marauder football lists this season.

Miller, a sophomore, gained 804 yards to bring his two-year career total to 1,251 yards, 10th on the all-time list.

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Reimer, a freshman from Quartz Hill High, had 30 receptions for 536 yards and three touchdowns to move to third on the single-season reception list, and Brown, another freshman, moved to sixth with 26 receptions for 386 yards and four touchdowns.

Washington, a redshirt freshman from Quartz Hill, set a single-season record for passing yardage with 1,448 yards, completing 101 of 234 passes for 13 touchdowns.

The defense, led by cornerback John Johnson’s nine interceptions, picked off 24 passes this season, one short of the school record.

Staff writers Mike Hiserman, Theresa Munoz, John Ortega and Brendan Healey contributed to this notebook.

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