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Brown Passes the Stress Test a Game Provides

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When Thousand Oaks High girls’ basketball Coach Chuck Brown returned to the bench this month after undergoing quadruple bypass heart surgery Nov. 8, he wondered how he would handle the stress of pressure situations.

No problem so far. He passed his first stress test last weekend in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions; the Lancers beat Brea-Olinda, 47-31, in the quarterfinals and stopped Washington, 51-40, in the semifinals before losing to Peninsula, 56-47. Peninsula is ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today.

Brown left his seat several times to yell at officials as well as his team. But he left some of the more animated behavior to one of his players, Michelle Palmisano. Palmisano knocked over a chair on the Lancer bench after being called for a charging foul in the fourth quarter of the game against Washington.

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Brown is slowly trying to work his way back, letting assistants Tom Strausburger and Dina Poteracke conduct practices while he observes. Brown also is getting himself back in shape by walking for 30 minutes each day.

MEDIC ALERT

After Thousand Oaks had defeated Washington, a bruised and battered Palmisano came out of the locker room for interviews. But she wasn’t beaten and at least she could still stand.

Washington’s All-State guard, Charisse Sampson, had to be carried off the court after a violent collision with Palmisano in the fourth quarter. Sampson, who was called for a blocking foul on the play, was taken to the hospital for X-rays after taking an elbow to the chest. Sampson was down on the court for 10 minutes and, when play resumed, one of her Washington teammates knocked Palmisano hard to the ground on a screen.

But the pain of a headache, sore shins and sore ankles was worth it for Palmisano, whose team avenged a six-point loss it had suffered to Washington in the first round of the state Division I playoffs last season. “This was kind of a grudge match,” said Palmisano, who scored 12 points.

ENERGIES CHANNELED

Channel Islands began the season with a first-year coach, one returning starter and no player taller than 6-foot-3.

But the Raiders are off to a 4-2 start and won the consolation championship of the Dos Pueblos tournament. Channel Islands’ losses have been lopsided defeats to Santa Barbara and Crenshaw. “Those two blowouts actually helped us quite a bit because they were a learning experience,” Coach Gary Abraham said.

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SHOES TO FILL

Westlake junior center Brad Schwan plays in the shadow of his older brother Kurt Schwan, a former Warrior who was an All-Ventura County selection in 1987-88 and currently plays at Weber State.

Brad Schwan, 6-6 and 225 pounds, has been impressive through six games. A first-year starter, he has averaged 12 points and has shot 56% from the field.

“After (Thousand Oaks center) Shane Graham, I can’t think of any center in the league who is as talented as Brad,” Westlake Coach Gary Grayson said. “He’s only 16 years old . . . he skipped a year, and next year he’s going to be the premier big man in the league.”

IN THE BALANCE

Newbury Park finished with a 2-20 record last season but already has won five of nine games this season. Teamwork has been the key to the turnaround.

“This year’s team passes the ball extremely well,” Coach Greg Ropes said.

In Newbury Park’s 82-47 win over Fillmore last week, Ropes said the team’s first 26 field goals came on 24 assists.

“We’re getting good passes to open people who have been able to make the shot and we’re playing very good team defense,” Ropes said.

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The Panthers’ balance is evident in the scoring averages of the starting lineup. Senior forward Sean McKeown (14.1), senior guard Robert Fick (14.0) and senior forward Jason Patterson (11.3) are in double figures. Sophomore point guard Keith Smith averages nine points and senior forward Jeff Hook averages seven.

FAY SHOWS THE WAY

Buena guard Lance Fay averaged 20.6 points last season and was a second-team All-Southern Section Division I player last season. Fay has averaged 30.4 points through Buena’s first seven games, which is a little more than Coach Glen Hannah would like.

“I didn’t think he’d have to average that much, but we’re not as well-rounded as I’d like,” Hannah said. “In tournaments, that’s one thing. But in league everybody has seen you play several times and knows you, so it’s harder to be one-dimensional.”

Although senior guard Nick Houchin has averaged 14.9 points and senior forward Jeff Dunn has shown signs of being a productive scorer, Buena relies heavily on Fay for points.

Matt McSorley, Russell Rose, and Gabe Kirkham each have been provided with an opportunity to earn the starting center position. And Doug Wilder and Andy Saint continue to battle for the big forward role.

“Our center and big forward spots have been by committee,” Hannah said.

SLOWLY BUT SURELY

With four starters returning, including talented guard Tony Smith, Hueneme entered the season with high expectations. But the Vikings lost three of their first four games and Smith, who averaged 18 points last season, was suspended for two games because he violated a team rule.

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After their third loss, a 76-49 blowout by Vermont (Australia) in the first round of the Thousand Oaks tournament, Coach Howard Davis had seen enough.

“I’ve never done this, but we went home and practiced later that night,” Davis said. “Well, actually, we ran for about 45 minutes.”

The Vikings responded with three consecutive wins--including two overtime victories--by a total of six points. Part of the Vikings’ recent success can be attributed to the improvement of junior forward David Andrade, a two-year starter at quarterback who did not play basketball last season.

“He’s only 6-3, but he is real strong on the boards and in the post,” Davis said. “He’s been a real pleasant surprise and he’s getting better every day.”

KNIGHT PLIGHT

Sherman Oaks CES (6-3) suffered a setback last week when Mitch Shenkin, the team’s leading scorer, was suspended indefinitely for reasons unrelated to basketball. Shenkin, who was averaging 18 points over five games, has missed the past four games and will not be allowed to play in this week’s Birmingham tournament.

Khalif Muhammed, a senior forward, replaced Shenkin at shooting guard and got instant on-the-job training.

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“He learned to play the position that day,” Coach Mac Becker said.

David Coulson and staff writers Paige A. Leech and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.

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