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Johnson Expects Earful About North Hollywood’s Early Exit

Fantasia Johnson figures his eardrums will be thumping like a basketball on hardwood over the next few months.

The North Hollywood High guard lives in Los Angeles and plays pick-up basketball in the off-season with talented players from Fremont, Dorsey and the like. Johnson undoubtedly will be reminded at length and high volume how his team expired earlier than expected in the playoffs.

He won’t offer much in the way of self-defense, either. How can he?

“We probably deserve to hear a little bit of it,” Johnson conceded.

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North Hollywood (25-2) entered the game ranked No. 1 in the region, ninth in the state and had rolled over its Valley Pac-8 Conference foes by an average of 42 points. The team hadn’t lost since December and was seeded second in the City Section 4-A Division playoffs.

Not since the 1988-89 Cleveland team of Lucious Harris and Adonis Jordan had a team from the Valley been held in such high esteem. Alas, that Cleveland team folded in the second round, too. In its first season at the 4-A level, North Hollywood was upset by Dorsey in overtime Friday, 64-61.

Two things were impressed upon Johnson during the defeat. One is that North Hollywood’s light-weight conference schedule leaves it ill-prepared to handle the teams from the L.A. Basin. Dorsey (14-11) finished third in the Southern League.

“The city has some high-caliber teams,” Johnson said. “We haven’t seen that (kind of talent) for a while.”

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Secondly, despite the Huskies’ depth and talent, there is room for improvement. Johnson (19 points) is a junior and backcourt mate Arthur Lee (13) is a sophomore. Dorsey’s defensive pressure forced 23 turnovers.

In short, Dorsey was equally athletic and equally quick, in stark contrast to North Hollywood’s regular-season competition.

“I think we learned a lot,” Johnson said. “We have to get better. We have to work harder if we want to play at the next level.”

Ramos fizz: Dick Crowell described his San Fernando team’s 52-50 victory over Gardena in the City 3-A quarterfinals Friday as “the greatest win I’ve been associated with at the school.”

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San Fernando (16-7) trailed, 49-42, with 1 1/2 minutes remaining when junior guard Javier Ramos, a two-year starter, keyed an improbable comeback by scoring six points down the stretch. Ramos also had a steal in the closing seconds.

Ramos’ three-point basket with 1:10 to play brought the Tigers to within 50-48, and his driving layup with 55 seconds remaining tied the score. After a turnover, Barry McWright drilled a 14-foot baseline jump shot to give San Fernando the lead with 40 seconds left.

McWright was fouled on the play, but missed the ensuing free throw. Ramos controlled the rebound, but the ball was knocked out of bounds. Forward J. R. Montgomery was whistled for traveling--he dragged his pivot foot “about two inches” on the inbounds pass, Crowell said--and Gardena was given another chance with 18 seconds left.

As a Gardena player drove to the basket with the clock winding down, Ramos knocked the ball away to preserve the victory. Remarkably, Crowell said San Fernando had no timeouts during the frenetic, 90-second burst.

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“It was an amazing game,” said Crowell, who is in his 11th season. “We’ve never been down by that many and come back to win. It’s hard to believe.”

Believe this: San Fernando is one victory from the Sports Arena. The Tigers will face top-seeded Monroe (22-3) in the semifinals Tuesday at a neutral site to be determined.

Recipe for disaster: Add a pinch of paltry production at the free-throw line, a heaping helping of problems making defensive adjustments and a liberal dose of pressure placed on a freshman, toss it all in the pressure cooker and voila , Notre Dame has . . .

A victory?

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Somehow, despite what Coach Mick Cady called a ragged performance in several areas, Notre Dame held off Rancho Verde, 56-54, in a Division III-A quarterfinal Friday. “It was the perfect script for an upset, no doubt about it,” Cady said.

Third-seeded Notre Dame (22-6) trailed, 51-47, before mounting a comeback. Freshman swingman Eddie Miller gave the Knights a 56-54 lead with a driving bank shot with three minutes to play.

Notre Dame then attempted to run out the clock, and Rancho Verde was largely accommodating. Finally, with 18 seconds left, senior guard Craig Johnson was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. Nine seconds later, senior center Tom Stillwell did likewise.

However, Rancho Verde missed a short-range shot at the buzzer that would have sent to game into overtime.

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Option play: Sometimes, stuff actually works as drawn up on the sideline. In Simi Valley’s 48-46 victory over Peninsula in the Southern Section Division I-AA quarterfinals, Coach Dean Bradshaw made like Terry Bradshaw.

Nathan go deep.

Simi Valley’s execution on an inbounds play with 13 seconds to go was the difference. With the Pioneers holding a two-point lead, Bradshaw ordered 6-foot-6 Vernon Simmons to inbound the ball.

With Peninsula trying to record a steal, Nathan Simmons, no relation, was freed by a screen and broke loose behind the defense. Vernon lobbed the ball over the defenders and Nathan scored on a layup for a four-point lead.

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Bradshaw said the second option was to toss the ball to guard Ryan Briggs, the team’s best free-throw shooter.

“With the defense looking for the steal, you’ve got them at your mercy,” Bradshaw said. “But you’ve got to make sure (the lob play) is there. If he doesn’t complete that pass, it goes out of bounds and they get it right back.”

The Pioneers (24-5) are in familiar territory. For the sixth time in the past eight seasons, Simi Valley has advanced to the quarterfinal round or beyond. The fourth-seeded Pioneers will play second-seeded Lynwood (22-7) in the semifinals on Tuesday at Dominguez High in Compton.


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