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PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW 1990-91 : SUNSET LEAGUE : Parks Is the Big Man, but Marina Is No Lock

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So, Steve Popovich, who is going to win the Sunset League basketball championship?

“I don’t know,” said Popovich, Marina coach. “It’s going to be really interesting. It’ll probably come down to whoever comes around at the end.”

And what do you think, Jon Borchert?

“Everybody’s going to have to be ready to play,” said Borchert, Edison coach.

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League coaches have picked Marina, the defending champion, Edison, Huntington Beach and Ocean View as the league leaders. But no one’s sure about the order.

Marina has Cherokee Parks, a 6-foot-11 senior center who’s going to Duke. Edison has Brandon Jessie, a 6-5 junior forward who’s probably the top athlete in the league. Ocean View has three experienced starters back from last season.

And Huntington Beach, young but talented, knocked off Estancia, Orange County’s top-ranked team, Saturday night.

Fountain Valley, Santa Ana and Westminster would figure to be dark horses. The coaches don’t expect to be among the league leaders, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be overlooked.

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“Again, it’s one of the better leagues in Orange County,” Borchert said.

A closer look:

EDISON

Coach: Jon Borchert (eighth year).

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1989-90 record: 20-9, 6-4 in league.

Returning lettermen: Four.

Returning starters: One.

Top returnees: Dave Deck (G, 6-0, Sr.); Brandon Jessie (F, 6-5, Jr.); Greg Miller (G/F, 6-3, Sr.); Todd Smyser (G/F, 6-3, Sr.)

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Top newcomers: Paul Baran (F/C, 6-3, Sr.); Todd Harrell (G, 5-8, Jr.); Matt Harrell (G, 5-8, Jr.); John Khamis (F, 6-2, Jr.)

Outlook: The Chargers (5-1 after beating Loara, 87-53, Tuesday night) aren’t tall, but they rebound and shoot well. Borchert has been using nine players. None is better than Jessie, son of former Ram wide receiver Ron Jessie. Jessie, a first-team all-league performer, also is a standout receiver on the football team.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Coach: Gordon Billingsley (second year).

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1989-90 record: 12-14, 5-5 in league.

Returning lettermen: Three.

Returning starters: One.

Top returnees: Dave Dardis (G, 5-10, Sr.); Kevin Volpe (F, 6-4, Sr.); Adam Ziebarth (C, 6-5, Sr.)

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Top newcomer: Todd Gordon (F, 6-3, Sr.); Barrett Hoggan (F, 6-4, Sr.); Guy Vaccaro (G, 5-10, Jr.)

Outlook: It could be a tough season for the Barons. Last season, Fountain Valley finished below .500 for the first time in 11 years. The junior varsity won the league title with a 9-1 record, but as Billingsley pointed out, most of the league’s top juniors played on the varsity. Mike Merli, a 6-4 first-team all-league forward, and Derrick Corcoran, a second-team all-league guard, graduated, leaving Volpe and Ziebarth to fill the holes. Dardis is the only returning starter.

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Coach: Roy Miller (14th year).

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1989-90 record: 11-15, 3-7 in league.

Returning lettermen: One.

Returning starters: One.

Top returnee: Mustapha Abdi (F, 6-3, Sr.).

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Top newcomers: Matt Ambrose (F/C, 6-4, Soph.); Bryan Chang (G, 6-0, Soph.); Andy Kijewski (F/C, 6-4, Sr.); Matt Montgomery (G, 5-11, Sr.); Chris Swann (F/C, 6-4, Soph.); Jeff Vanderwal (F/C, 6-5, Jr.); Tom Walden (G, 6-0, Soph.)

Outlook: The Oilers are young, with only Abdi, an all-Southern Section selection, back from last season’s team. So why are they off to a 5-1 start? The young guys have turned out to be pretty good. Kijewski’s jumper at the buzzer gave the Oilers a 52-51 victory over then top-ranked Estancia in the title game of the La Quinta tournament Saturday night. Abdi averaged 23.9 points last season.

MARINA

Coach: Steve Popovich (16th year).

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1989-90 record: 18-9, 9-1 in league.

Returning lettermen: Three.

Returning starters: Three.

Top returnees: Sean Haselrig (G, 6-2, Sr.); Cherokee Parks (C, 6-11, Sr.); Brant Shelor (F, 6-5, Sr.)

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Top newcomers: B.J. Babic (F, 6-1, Jr.); Cristen McLemore (G, 6-1, Sr.); Mike Carreon (G, 6-0, Sr.)

Outlook: Parks, the league MVP, led Marina to the title last season, so most figured Marina would repeat. But the Vikings are off to a slow start. How well Marina does depends less on Parks and more on Haselrig and Shelor. Both need to take--and make--the shots when defenses swarm Parks. Even triple-teamed, Parks might be the best player in county history.

OCEAN VIEW

Coach: Jim Harris (13th year).

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1989-90 record: 16-11, 6-4 in league.

Returning lettermen: Five.

Returning starters: Three.

Top returnees: Albert Fanoga (G, 6-0, Jr.); Jim Harris (G, 5-11, Soph.); Ryan Martin (G, 6-3, Sr.); Jack Pietrowski (C, 6-7, Sr.); Marcel TenBerge (C, 6-8, Sr.)

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Top newcomers: Randy Karliner (F, 6-2, Sr.); Jack Stojanovich (F, 6-5, Sr.)

Outlook: The Seahawks are only 5-3, but they have played a tough early-season schedule. They’ve lost two in a row--to Mater Dei and San Bernardino in the Tournament of Champions. The schedule doesn’t get any easier. Tonight, they play Mater Dei again. In two weeks, they’re off to the Las Vegas tournament. TenBerge, Martin and Harris started last season. Martin was a first-team all-league selection as a junior.

SANTA ANA

Coach: Todd Moore (first year).

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1989-90 record: 10-14, 5-5 in the Century League.

Returning lettermen: Six.

Returning starters: Two.

Top returnees: Chauncey Woolridge (F, 6-5, Sr.); Ramon Yerena (F, 6-3, Sr.); Marc Contreras (G, 5-11, Sr.); Jose Chavez (G, 6-0, Sr.)

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Top newcomers: Ev Mena (C, 6-3, Sr.); Albert Gaxiola (G, 5-7, Sr.); Bill Johnson (G, 6-2, Sr.)

Outlook: The Saints, who moved over from the Century League, are the great unknown for other league coaches. Moore, who served as an assistant at Air Academy High in Colorado Springs, Colo., for seven seasons, takes over for Nash Rivera, who resigned for personal reasons after one season. Woolridge could prove to be as good as any forward in the county. He has a nice touch outside and a quick move to the basket. Last season, he averaged 17.6 points and five rebounds. Santa Ana was 3-3 after Tuesday’s 65-52 loss to Corona del Mar in the Irvine World News tournament.

WESTMINSTER

Coach: Dick Katz (eighth year).

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1989-90 record: 6-16, 1-9 in league.

Returning lettermen: Six.

Returning starters: Four.

Top returnees: Eric Wilkins (C, 6-3, Sr.); Jesse Gomez (G/F, 6-1, Sr.); Mitch Okura (G, 5-5, Sr.) George Davison (G/F, 6-0, Sr.

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Top newcomers: Todd Kawashima (G, 5-5, Sr.); Brian Mann (G, 5-9, Soph.), Chris Rae (F, 6-3, Sr.); Duy Nguyen (G, 5-7, Jr.)

Outlook: The Lions are unquestionably the shortest team in the league, so Katz has them pressing all over the court. Katz said this is his best team since 1987-88, when the Lions went 10-14 with 6-10 center Chris Tower (now at Cal State Long Beach). He figures the Lions’ defense and their depth will keep them in most games.


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