With the new year dawning, Al Nordquist is beginning to sound like a prophet.
Before the season, the Moorpark College basketball coach said his Raiders would become a solid team by January if the freshmen came around. He gave himself more time than necessary.
Moorpark (14-4) has been proving its coach right for a while now. The Raiders, with 12 freshmen on the roster, are ranked 17th in the state and have won seven in a row.
On Wednesday, they logged their most impressive outing of the season, a 68-66 victory over L.A. City--ranked No. 7 in the state--in the championship game of the Canyons tournament. Moorpark had lost to the Cubs, 93-73, six weeks earlier.
“We’ve matured faster than I thought,” said Nordquist, in his 27th season at Moorpark. “This is a very coachable team. I’ve had teams with more talent but I couldn’t coach them as well.”
Among the newcomers who have sparked the Raiders are Paul Foster, a 6-foot-8 forward from Thousand Oaks High, guards Jaime Jaquez and Jim Harbour from Camarillo, and forward Rahmid Stinson from Fremont.
Foster scored 81 points and had 40 rebounds in the three Canyons tournament games and was named the most valuable player. Jaquez had 16 against L.A. City on Wednesday.
“I think Jim Harbour is really improving and Jaime Jaquez is everywhere (on the court),” Nordquist said. “His hands are so quick.”
The season has been much more pleasant than he anticipated, and not just because of Moorpark’s record, Nordquist said.
“It has been a really enjoyable year so far,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to do with winning and losing.”
JUNIOR COLLEGES: Stick to Short Game
Canyons sophomore forward Jagos Medenica might think twice about becoming a quarterback after all.
Medenica’s right shoulder has been hurting since Wednesday, one day after throwing a full-court pass. Teammate Randy Eason caught it and made a layup at the buzzer to give the Cougars a 69-68 victory in the consolation semifinals of their tournament.
After the game, Medenica said he might try out for quarterback if Canyons started a football team. He wasn’t so sure the next day.
“My shoulder is really sore,” Medenica said after Canyons (5-10) beat West L.A., 73-52, in the fifth-place game. “I’m used to throwing only short passes.”
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE: Fire Up the Batmobile
Words no longer describe the woes of the Matador basketball team. Mulling over a 9-0 Washington State run at a key junction during Monday night’s game, Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy used subtitles right out of a Batman episode.
“Bang, it was that fast,” he said. “It was turnover-layup, turnover-layup, turnover-layup, boom, boom, boom.”
Andre Chevalier, Brooklyn McLinn and Brent Lofton, all friends and acquaintances of Washington State guard Eddie Hill, led the Matadors in scoring in their 93-78 loss to the Cougars.
Chevalier, a former Cleveland High teammate of Hill’s, had 16 points to share team-high honors with McLinn, who played against Hill while at Taft High. Lofton, who played for El Camino Real High, had 15 points.
Hill, who scored a game-high 24 points, said he was not surprised.
“We looked at the stats and they hadn’t been shooting well, but I know all these guys,” he said. “I know what they’re all capable of doing.”
Around the Campuses . . .
* The Antelope Valley men’s basketball team has hit the skids. After starting 7-2, the Marauders have dropped seven consecutive games and are 0-2 in the Foothill Conference.
* Northridge basketball opponents are shooting better from three-point range--70 for 162, 43.2%--than the Matadors are overall--276 of 649, 42.5%.
* Peter Micelli, an 82% free-throw shooter last season, is shooting 56.1% (23 for 41) this season for Northridge.
Staff writers Fernando Dominguez and Mike Hiserman contributed to this notebook.