Hallowed Careers for 4 Saints

A memorable era in Santa Clara High basketball came to an end Saturday when the Saints lost the Southern region Division IV final, 62-60, to San Diego Lincoln Prep.

Santa Clara won back-to-back state titles in 1989-90 and lost in the final last season. Had the Saints beaten Lincoln Prep, they would have played Friday for their third title in four years.

"Last year we could come back," said senior Isaiah Mustafa, one of four returning starters. "This year we can't do anything. Just sit and remember it."

So ended the Santa Clara careers of Stevie Amar, Art Barron, Chris Cole and Mustafa. Cole was a three-year starter, the others started two seasons, and each witnessed two state titles and four consecutive Frontier League and Southern Section championships.

This group will be remembered for more than its final game, an inspiring performance considering the Saints, playing without the injured Barron, rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit.

While UCLA's Shon Tarver was the team two years ago--he averaged 31.6 points and 9.2 rebounds--these players form a star by committee.

* Cole is the most decorated player, earning Southern Section Division IV player-of-the-year honors as a junior. Although he never averaged more than 9.5 points or 6.2 rebounds a game in a season, he was noted for his defense.

* Mustafa was second on the Saints with a 13.3-scoring average this season. He was selected Oxnard's male student of the year by the Ventura County Chamber of Commerce.

* Barron led the Saints in scoring (15.0) as a junior, and in assists as a junior (4.9) and senior (4.2). A sprained right ankle kept him from Saturday's game.

* Amar was the top rebounder each of the past two years (8.9 as a junior and 8.1 as a senior) and was the top scorer this season (15.7).

END OF AN ERA

Chris Macias, Santa Clara's fifth starter, is also a senior. As the program faces rebuilding, this would be a logical time for Lou Cvijanovich, 66, to end his 37-year stint as Santa Clara's coach, right?

"People ask me all the time when am I going to stop," Cvijanovich said. "I'm too much of a competitor to stop. It's been a great four years. Time marches on. Our JVs and sophomores won the league title. You're not going to have four straight years like we've just had, but you're going to win a league title every couple (of) years."

Cvijanovich did not, however, deny that retiring was a possibility.

"The thing is I'm 66 and I can't coach forever," he said.

FIRED UP

One of the most celebrated careers in girls' state basketball history ended last week when Michelle Palmisano and Thousand Oaks lost to Lynwood, 58-56, in the Southern region Division I semifinals.

Palmisano, the third-leading scorer in state history with 2,795 points, scored 35 points and had 15 rebounds. If the stakes weren't already high enough, she was further motivated when the officials ejected her father, Joe Palmisano, from the Thousand Oaks gymnasium with 3 minutes 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

"It made me fired up," she said.

Joe Palmisano was sitting near the top of the stands when Michelle was called for a charging foul. The elder Palmisano was given the heave-ho after he walked down behind the Thousand Oaks bench and yelled at the officials.

Michelle argued for several minutes with one official as her father was escorted from the gym.

"I was kind of upset with the referee's decision," she said. "I couldn't understand how she could throw one person out of a crowded gym."

Michelle's sister, a Thousand Oaks assistant, intervened to make sure that Michelle didn't get ejected as well.

The 5-foot-9 point guard, who will play at UCLA in the fall, said she was pleased with the performance of the team, even though it lost. Thousand Oaks won back-to-back Southern Section Division I championships and had a record of 30-2 this season.

"I really enjoyed my four years at Thousand Oaks and we had a great game to end it with," she said. "We accomplished the goals we set for ourselves."

BASKET CASE

Baseball Coach Sab Manente arrived at Bell-Jeff on Monday and learned that three of his starters had sustained twisted ankles playing in separate pick-up basketball games Sunday.

Two of the players--Brian Lee and Nestor Villanea--played varsity basketball and made it the entire season without injury. David Gomez was the other injured player.

The Guards (0-2) have left 15 runners on base, and Villanea, who bats third, and Lee, who bats fourth, have stranded the bulk of them. "Hopefully, they won't be out long because they need the work," he said. "I need to talk them out of playing basketball, I guess."

Those are not the first Bell-Jeff players to suffer basketball injuries. Catcher John Bullock sustained a broken wrist during a physical education class last month.

Also out is shortstop Elder Aguilar, who sustained a twisted ankle against Calabasas last week.

ONE PITCH AWAY

Van Nuys' Jaime Chacon (1-0) threw a one-hitter against Hollywood last week in the L.A. Invitational, but relief wasn't far away. "He was one pitch away from coming out twice," Coach Bill Gordon said.

Chacon walked the first two batters in the fifth. "If he would have walked one more guy, he would have come out," Gordon said.

Chacon, however, responded with four strikeouts to end the inning. Catcher Alex Alvarenga dropped the pitch after the third strikeout and the batter reached base safely.

Chacon, a senior left-hander, struck out nine and walked five.

NOT SO GOLDEN

St. Francis includes six starters from last season's San Fernando League runner-up. Yet the Golden Knights (0-6) are already more than halfway to last season's loss total (11).

"It's a little rough around the office these days," Coach John Yakel said. "We just haven't been playing well."

St. Francis committed 20 errors in little more than 24 hours last weekend. The Knights had nine errors in a 6-1 loss to San Marcos on Friday, five in a 12-6 loss to Santa Barbara in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday and six in a 9-6 loss in the second game.

"The pitchers are doing what they're supposed to be doing--getting ground balls--and we're just not fielding them," Yakel said.

Also, St. Francis left the bases loaded three times in the first game Saturday. On Friday, the Knights stranded eight runners.

One reason for St. Francis' slump--and comedy of errors--is that second baseman Yves Brancheau sustained a deep bruise in his right shoulder in the opener against Hoover two weeks ago.

The Knights also lost two potential victories. They had tied the score and put the go-ahead run at second base against Hoover, but the game was stopped because of darkness and the last inning was erased.

Against St. Anthony, St. Francis scored four runs in the seventh to take a 9-6 lead, but again the game was called because of darkness and became a defeat.

SAYS WHO?

Track and field has been labeled a dying sport by some in the United States, but that is not the case at Hart. A total of 240 boys and girls--roughly 10% of the student body--came out for this year's teams, according to Coach Dan Houghton.

"Track's popularity is really hurting at some schools," Houghton said. "But not here. We've got the most kids we've ever had."

The sport's popularity at Hart soared after the Indians won the first of three consecutive Foothill League boys' titles in 1989.

TWO-TIMERS

What do John Aguilar of Hart, Josh Canale of Crescenta Valley, Peter Holt of Antelope Valley, Bill Sivley of Canyon, Paul Taylor of Royal and Brodie Van Wagenen of Crespi have in common?

All have hit two home runs in a game.

Aguilar blasted a pair of two-run shots in his first two at-bats against Chatsworth in a Westside tournament semifinal. Sivley's pair against Ventura also came in a Westside tournament game.

Van Wagenen blasted a two-run home run and a three-run home run, and had seven runs batted in during the Celts' 8-0 win over Cerritos in an El Segundo tournament quarterfinal. Canale, who has three home runs, hit a pair against Antelope Valley. Holt hit two against El Rancho.

Taylor hit two home runs in a 13-9 win over Chaminade on Monday.

INJURY UPDATE

Simi Valley senior Aaron Fischer, who suffered a sprain of his left ankle two weeks ago, returned to the lineup as a designated hitter in Simi Valley's 5-3 loss to Edison last week.

Fischer, a first baseman who hit nine home runs and had a region-leading 38 RBIs last season, will remain in the lineup although the ankle is only 75% healed, Coach Mike Scyphers said.

Simi Valley sophomore Ryan Hankins, a third baseman who underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle three weeks ago, had his cast removed and will begin rehabilitation this week. Hankins was slated to bat third, in front of Fischer, before the injuries.

Westlake center fielder Ty Varing injured a kneecap while swinging a bat. X-rays today will determine the extent of the damage. Varing, a senior, batted second in the Warriors' lineup.

David Coulson, Vince Kowalick and staff writers Paige A. Leech, John Ortega, T.C. Porter and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.

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