Hueneme Guard Benched by Dad Keen on Grades

Hueneme High guard Tony Smith, the team’s leading scorer at 22 points a game, will miss at least one game because of failure to meet academic requirements.

Not the school’s but those of a higher authority.

Smith, a 5-foot-8 sophomore who has been a pleasant surprise to Coach Howard Davis this season, will sit out tonight’s game against San Marcos because he has not satisfied certain academic standards set forth by his father.

According to Davis, Smith is eligible to play under the school’s academic policies.


“His father said six weeks ago that Tony had six weeks to get things together, and he hasn’t,” Davis said. “He’s close, and I think he just needs to catch up on some work this week and might play Friday.”

Davis said he supports the decision of Smith’s father, Tony Ballard.

“Tony needs this,” Davis said of Smith. “Basketball is a big thing to him, and to have it taken away is a big slap on the face. Sure, it’s going to hurt us, but I think it’s a good thing for both Tony and our other kids.”

Fasten your seat belts: Today’s North Valley League showdown between Granada Hills and Cleveland should go a long way in helping to sort out the league race. And the teams should go a long way in terms of mileage burned in 32 minutes.


Today’s game, which will be played at 4 p.m. at Cleveland, features the top two individual scoring leaders among area City Section players. Cleveland junior swingman Brandon Martin is averaging 26.2 points a game and Granada Hills forward Jerry Allen is averaging 22.1.

Cleveland (14-5, 5-0 in league play) is ranked No. 1 in the region by The Times and Granada Hills (15-3, 4-1) is ranked No. 3. The Highlanders were ranked No. 1 at the time of Friday’s 84-80 loss to Taft.

Cleveland fields perhaps the best starting five in the area but has a thin bench. Conversely, Granada Hills has seven players averaging 7.2 points a game or better. But don’t expect the Highlanders to use superior depth to wear down Cleveland, the two-time defending league champion.

“It’s very hard to ask the guys on our team to play slow,” Granada Hills Coach Bob Johnson said. “We’re going to go right at them and see what happens. We tried to wear out (Taft’s) Casey Sheahan, and that didn’t work, and I’m sure their guys can play the whole game if they have to.”

Royal comeback?: Royal Coach Joe Malkinson said in December that the Highlanders would be better than the Royal team that set a school record with 20 wins and earned a share of the Marmonte League title last season.

That appeared to be true after the Highlanders cruised to the Beverly Hills tournament title and had won eight of their first nine games. But Royal (12-7, 3-4) has struggled since, winning just four of 10.

Malkinson says the team is beginning to rebuild its shattered confidence.

“We got in a mental slump there for a while, and we’re not back to where we were during the Beverly Hills tournament, but I think we’re on our way,” he said.


Staff writers Steve Elling and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.