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Football Team’s Success Is Taking a Toll on Basketball Court : Valencia: Coach Cyrus’ Orange League favorites are still without several key performers.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

No one is more eager for the football season to end than Valencia High School basketball Coach John Cyrus.

He has been checking off days on the calendar, waiting for Friday night, when the Tigers play Tustin in the Division VI football championship game.

In the meantime, he has stitched together a patchwork starting lineup that probably will unravel when three football players join his team next week.

“It’s just difficult to coordinate what we’re trying to do at this time of the season,” Cyrus said. “We might not get what we want done because we have too many football players.”

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Marc O’Brien, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, should fit into the starting lineup once he’s done playing quarterback. Slotback Korey Alexander, a 5-11 guard in his second season of varsity basketball, also is expected to move into the starting lineup.

Wide receiver Kevin Alexander, Korey’s twin brother, is a 5-11 senior guard who also might start.

But don’t expect them just to waltz in and take over the starting roles. Cyrus said the transition will take time, and the current starters won’t give up their jobs easily.

“They will have to come in and work their way back into the lineup,” Cyrus said.

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The football team’s joy ride through the playoffs has made Cyrus’ job tougher. The football players are usually exhausted by the time they come out for basketball, and need time to fit into the system and get in playing shape.

“Eventually, I would like to get our team to the point where we have no football players,” Cyrus said. “I want the football team to be successful, but we’re playing seven teams while it’s in the playoffs.

“It really screws up your chemistry when those guys aren’t here. Then you drop these guys in. They’re talented, so you want them to play for you. You want to be a winner.”

In the meantime, Valencia’s scoring duties have fallen on three-year starter Adolfo Gomez, a 6-3 senior forward. Gomez was an All-Orange League selection who averaged about 14 points last season.

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“I think Adolfo could be all-county if he maintains some consistency every game, every practice,” Cyrus said. “He’ll be a key for us all year.”

Gomez and O’Brien are the only returning starters, but Korey Alexander returns with significant varsity playing time and Kevin Alexander was the junior varsity’s best player last season. Tony Draft, a 6-2 forward, also is expected to contribute.

Although Cyrus said his team’s development has been slowed by the football team’s success, Valencia is nearly a consensus pick for the title among the league’s coaches. But by no means are the Tigers a heavy favorite.

“The league race is a mess,” Western Coach Greg Hoffman said. “For the first time in nine years in the Orange League, we don’t have a dominant team. You have to give the nod to Valencia because they have the experience and quickness.

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“You can throw a blanket over Brea, Magnolia, Savanna and us, but I think we have a chance to compete with Valencia.”

Said Savanna Coach Greg Haskell: “Valencia is the favorite with their returning starters, but I wouldn’t count Western out. They had a 17-6 junior varsity team last season and with Hoffman coaching them, they’ll play very hard.”


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