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Connections, Like Tales, Grow Over Time

Quartz Hill High’s Don Moore can weave a story with the best of them, and his team’s recent game against old friend Lou Cvijanovich’s Santa Clara team jarred his memory.

It seems that Cvijanovich wanted to treat his buddy Moore to a refreshment after the teams played a nonleague game in Oxnard some years back, so they headed to Lou’s favorite watering hole--his son Sam’s saloon named, appropriately enough, Sam’s Saloon.

And darned if Moore didn’t get a firsthand look at what 32 years of coaching in Oxnard will get a guy named Cvijanovich.

“Sure, we walked right in and who was sitting belly up at the bar having a good old time,” Moore said with a wink, “but the two referees that worked our game.”

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Respect yourself: Because his team has won three tournaments and has raced to a 14-0 start, Campbell Hall Coach Joe Jackson would like to humbly request that the Vikings be considered for a top-10 ranking among area teams.

He has his reasons, which we present as timely who’s-best conjecture (see college football poll dispute).

The way Jackson sees it, Campbell Hall deserves consideration for two reasons. First, the team is undefeated. Second, Campbell Hall defeated North Hollywood . . . which defeated Downey . . . which defeated Thousand Oaks, a top-five team in the region, according to Times rankings.

“I’ve seen a lot of teams play this year and I think we can play with pretty much everybody I’ve seen,” Jackson said. “I’m not saying we’d beat everybody, but we’d be competitive.”

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Add Campbell Hall: Jackson credits freshman center Alex Lopez’s improvement in the post as a key to the team’s volcanic start.

Jackson said that many thought Lopez, the tallest player in the region at 6-foot-10, would instantly turn around the Vikings, who finished 9-14 last season.

It seems that Lopez started believing it too.

“When he came in, he was very apprehensive,” Jackson said. “He knows he’s not the savior now.”

Lopez is learning to distribute the ball and has improved his shot selection.

“Every time we get the ball in to him, he used to try to score, even when he was double- and triple-teamed,” Jackson said. “Now he kicks it back out to one of the other guys. In a word, you’d call it maturity.”

Alma mutter: Whenever Reseda Coach Jeff Halpern utters the magic word, something bad happens. The pain usually lasts about 90 minutes, or the length of an average high school game.

“When we hear that name, we might as well not even go out there,” Halpern said.

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The name: Grant. It also happens to be Halpern’s alma mater.

Since Halpern moved to Reseda three seasons ago, his teams are 0-7 against the Lancers and Coach Howard Levine, a friend of Halpern’s. Reseda lost to Grant three times in each of Halpern’s first two seasons, then fell in the North Hollywood tournament, 55-40, this season.

“Not having to play them is the only good thing about getting out of that conference,” Halpern said, referring to the Regents’ move this season from the Valley Pac-8 to the Northwest Valley conference.

Add Halpern: The Reseda coach questioned the Northwest Valley Conference schedule, which had teams playing conference openers Dec. 10 before taking a conference hiatus until Wednesday.

The Regents (6-6, 1-1), who upset Kennedy in their league opener, face Granada Hills, Cleveland and Taft in their next three games.

“I don’t know what they were thinking,” Halpern said of the scheduling. “But at least we’ve been in first place for a month.”

Brushing in the New Year: Burbank played in two tournaments during the winter break, which did not leave much free time for Coach Fred Cook.

“Christmas and New Year’s were about the only days I had off,” Cook said.

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Nevertheless, Cook spent Saturday repainting the team locker room to repair damage caused by a broken water pipe last season.

“If we waited for maintenance to do anything about it, it would take 2 1/2 years, so I decided to do it myself,” Cook said. “There were no kids at school and that was nice, but it was not like a vacation.”

The new color of the locker room? Gray. “The lockers were already Bulldog Blue,” Cook said.

Contagious Hunter: Canoga Park lost three of four games over the winter break, but the Hunters suffered another loss when forward Chace Johnson contracted chickenpox last week.

To complicate matters, Johnson fainted while at home and cut his knee, a gash that required 36 stitches to close. Johnson, who is averaging 8.5 points a game, will be out for two weeks.

Run ‘n’ gun: Hueneme’s up-tempo attack, which accounted for 83 points a game in December, registered 59 and 72 points while the team split Channel League contests with San Marcos and Rio Mesa last week.

But don’t expect the Vikings to abandon their wide-open attack patterned after the Loyola Marymount system.

“We’re not as completely crazy as we were, but it seems like (Channel League) teams are getting back on defense better,” Coach Howard Davis said. “We try to shoot it real quick, and sometimes there are some pretty bad shots. But we don’t ever reprimand a player for taking a shot, no matter how bad it looks.”

Davis adopted the offense after attending a clinic last May that featured Denver Nuggets Coach Paul Westhead, the former Loyola Marymount coach.

“The less value you put on a shot, the more likely it will fall,” Davis said. “You have to bite your tongue sometimes, but you can’t put the kids in a win-or-lose situation.”

Tough times at Oak Park High: The Oak Park basketball team practiced for much of the preseason with but six players. Five others played on the football team that advanced to the Division IX semifinals and did not report for basketball until a week before the season.

The roster was reduced to eight for the past two games after one player quit and first-year Coach Nate Sims suspended two players because of disciplinary reasons.

“We don’t have enough players and I don’t think that we’re going to get anymore,” Sims said. “Nobody wants to play basketball.”

The junior-varsity and the freshman teams have only seven players each.

Oak Park entered the week winless in eight games and went nearly a month without playing a game.

Fright flight: Crescenta Valley High has participated in the El Dorado basketball tournament in Las Vegas in 11 of the past 13 seasons, but the Falcons had not flown to the tournament until this season.

Their first flight might have been their last.

Crescenta Valley’s flight Dec. 19 had to be rerouted back to Los Angeles after wind gusts reaching 90 m.p.h. caused a landing attempt to be aborted.

“It was like a roller-coaster ride the whole way there,” Coach John Goffredo said. “The plane was going left and right and up and down. The wind caught a wing tip and almost flipped us. We were about to land and all of a sudden, the pilot shot the plane straight up. People were screaming and it was a nightmare. I thought we were going to crash.”

When the plane arrived back in Los Angeles, Goffredo considered renting a van, but that alternative was discouraged.

“We didn’t have a choice,” Goffredo said. “They just loaded our baggage on a bigger plane and put us on it.”

The winds subsided enough for a landing on the second flight.

The team arrived in Las Vegas an hour after the scheduled start of the Falcons’ first-round game against Las Vegas Bonanza.

The game was rescheduled for 9:30 that night. Crescenta Valley, as could be expected, lost, 71-58.

Staff writers Steve Elling, Kirby Lee, Paige A. Leech, Brian Murphy, John Ortega and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.


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