Cherokee Parks is known to draw a crowd in a basketball game, but the All-American center might feel as if he is all alone when Marina High School plays host to San Bernardino at 7:30 tonight in the quarterfinals of the Division I-A boys' playoffs at Westminster High.
Parks, 6-11, who scored a school-record 44 points in an opening round victory over Alta Loma, has been the center of attention for four years. But San Bernardino's super center, 6-8 Ray Owes will likely defend Parks one-on-one in a matchup of the two best prep players in the state.
Ocean View Coach Jim Harris' team played both teams this season, with mixed results. San Bernardino routed the Seahawks, 61-37, in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions. Ocean View split with Marina in Sunset League play.
Harris anticipates a man-to-man confrontation between the centers, who have signed letters of intent to play for college powers next year: Owes with Arizona and Parks with Duke.
Harris was asked how he defended each player and what he expects in the long-waited showdown.
"First, both teams are drastically different," Harris said. "Marina has five shooters who want to shoot. Once (Coach) Steve (Popovich) convinced them to look to Cherokee first, and then shoot, they became a very good team.
"San Bernardino is a power team that likes to penetrate for high-percentage shots. Owes may be only 6-8, but he has those long arms.
"If San Bernardino tries to double- or triple-team him, Cherokee will pick them apart because he's such a great passer. But the bottom line is, if you try to guard either Owes or Cherokee straight up, they'll score 40 points."
Harris anticipates both centers getting into foul trouble. He thinks Owes will be assessed fouls attempting to block Parks' shots, and that Parks will draw fouls trying to defend San Bernardino's explosive leapers.
"They'll come right at him and try to get him in foul trouble," Harris said. "I've seen Cherokee get really down on himself when he gets in foul trouble. I hope this doesn't happen, but the tale of the tape will be fouls."
Ocean View limited Owes to 11 points by fronting with guard Ryan Martin and backing him with center Marcel TenBerge. Parks had 27 points in a 62-58 loss to Ocean View but wasn't a factor with the game on the line when his teammates failed to get him the ball.
"Once Marina developed a balanced inside-outside game with Cherokee, they couldn't lose," Harris said. "They changed right after we beat them."
Since the Ocean View loss, Marina has won 10 of its past 11 games, but the Vikings face a tall order in stopping Owes . . . and vice versa.