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PLAY BALL

The Dominguez High boys’ basketball team is second and Artesia is seventh in Cal-Hi Sports magazine’s state rankings.

Dominguez (14-1), which is also seventh in the USA Today national rankings, opened San Gabriel Valley League play Wednesday at Paramount. Artesia (11-3) began its quest for its ninth consecutive league title in a Suburban League game at home against Glenn.

League plays also gets underway for most Long Beach/Southeast area schools this week.

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Here is a glance at the league races.

* Almont League--Center Rigoberto Bejarano (6-foot-3) returns for defending champion Bell Gardens, but Alhambra and Montebello are the favorites.

Montebello is paced by seniors point guard Arthur Lee Cox and 6-5 Zaki Gad. Cox scored 35 points in the Oilers’ 68-65 victory over Keppel Tuesday to start league play. Juniors Ernie Ayala (5-8), Joshua Scheaffer (6-3) and Ray Rodriguez (6-2) round out the lineup.

Schurr, led by seniors Jermaine Jackson (6-3) and Kevin Seto (6-4). is in search of its third league title in four seasons. Jackson scored 23 points and had 15 rebounds in a season-opening victory over El Rancho.

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Prediction: 1. Alhambra. 2. Montebello. 3. Bell Gardens. 4. Schurr. 5. San Gabriel. 6. Keppel.

* Camino Real League--Verbum Dei will be hard to stop from repeating as Southern Section Division IV-A champion, not to mention winning the Camino Real League.

Pius X with the senior trio of Troy Collins, a 6-6 center, and guards Allen Fletcher and Marcel Yates should battle for second. St. Anthony, led by senior Rick Boone (6-5) and junior Brett Minter (6-4), could sneak in for third.

Cantwell has nine seniors on its 12-player squad. The Cardinals are built around junior Mike Cirullo and senior Raul Espinosa, both 6-4.

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Prediction: 1. Verbum Dei. 2. Pius X. 3. St. Monica. 4. St. Anthony. 5. Cantwell-Sacred Heart. 6. Bosco Tech.

* Delphic League--Whitney advanced to the Alhambra tournament final last month with the leadership of seniors Bryan Good (6-4), Alex Dawa (5-11) and Phillip Balucan (6-3). Whitney, though, will have its hands full vying for a playoff berth because it competes in the same league as Campbell Hall, Brentwood and Pacific Hills.

Campbell Hall won the Southern Section Division V-AA title after beating Brentwood in the semifinals. Pacific Hills is the Division V-A champion.

Prediction: 1. Pacific Hills. 2. Crossroads. 3. Campbell Hall. 4. Brentwood. 5. Whitney. 6. Faith Baptist.

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* Del Rey League--St. John Bosco, the Southern Section Division II-A champion, doesn’t have a player the caliber of Cal freshman Jelani Gardner this season. But the Braves do have height in 6-8 senior Chad Bell and juniors Brian Johnson (6-6) and Joe Samson (6-5). Guard Eddie Ramirez (6-1) also returns after missing his junior season because of a shoulder injury.

Bradley Willis (6-4), Matt Cordeiro (6-1) and Anthony Bustamente (5-6) helped St. Paul reach the Southern Section Division IV-AA final last season.

Prediction: 1. St. John Bosco. 2. Bishop Montgomery. 3. Serra. 4. St. Bernard. 5. St. Paul. 6. Bishop Amat.

* Del Rio League--The race for the league title is open. Ben Schwartz of California, Chris Blasic of Santa Fe and Victor Padilla of Pioneer are the top players to watch.

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Prediction: 1. California. 2. La Serna 3. Pioneer. 4. Santa Fe. 5. Whittier. 6. El Rancho.

* Mission Valley League--Playing in its first season in the Mission Valley League after moving from the San Gabriel Valley League, Cerritos’ hopes for a postseason berth will rest on Nick Maddox.

Prediction: 1. Arroyo. 2. Cerritos. 3. Rosemead. 4. South El Monte. 5. El Monte. 6. Mountain View.

* Moore League--A three-way battle between Long Beach Poly, Long Beach Jordan and Long Beach Wilson is probable. Poly will be paced by USC-bound Damion Dawson (6-2) and Lakewood transfer Mike Jones. Wilson is the league’s tallest team with senior Michael Batiste (6-8) and 6-6 Tyrell Maynor and 6-7 Roy Blanchard. Jordan possesses the multi-talented Ortege Jenkins (6-2).

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Prediction: 1. Long Beach Poly. 2. Long Beach Wilson. 3. Long Beach Jordan. 4. Millikan. 5. Lakewood. 6. Compton.

* Ocean League--A playoff berth is not out of the question for Centennial. The Apaches, paced by 6-3 guards freshman Michael Carson and senior Kenzie Weir, defeated Mira Costa, 76-49, in their league opener.

Prediction: 1. Redondo. 2. Morningside. 3. Centennial. 4. Beverly Hills. 5. Mira Costa. 6. South Torrance. 7. Culver City. 8. El Segundo.

* Olympic League--Valley Christian is the class of the league. The Crusaders are led by Brian Vanderwal, Kenchasca Amos and Jon Lee.

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Prediction: 1. Valley Christian. 2. Brethren Chrisian. 3. Orange Lutheran. 4. Ontario Christian. 5. Whittier Christian. 6. Santa Ana Calvary Chapel.

* San Gabriel Valley League--Dominguez is the deepest team in the league. The only drama will be the battle for second between Gahr and Lynwood.

Dominguez’s front line includes highly recruited 6-5 senior Tommy Prince, James Brown (6-6), the Moore League most valuable player at Long Beach Poly as a junior, and freshman Jason Thomas (6-4). The backcourt is comprised of sophomore Kenney Brunner (5-9) and senior Tremain Ross (5-9).

Gahr is paced by seniors 6-0 guard Marcus Lemons, the Brea-Olinda tournament’s most valuable player, and 6-4 forward Corey Scott. Jamale Carlyle, Cory Walton and Al-Malik Wilds are other starters.

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Lynwood is led by 6-6 senior D’Cean Bryant, who has signed a letter of intent to attend Long Beach State, and 6-7 sophomore Greg Lakey.

Downey, which has a 7-3 record against a tough nonleague schedule, has an outside shot at third. Verdine Dixon and Donnie Dillow, both 6-2, are returning starters. Paramount revolves around senior Mike Fletcher (6-0).

Warren is inexperienced. Adolfo Reyes and Daryl Goodus are the only returners from last season’s team, which reached the Southern Section Division I-A quarterfinals.

Prediction: 1. Dominguez. 2. Gahr. 3. Lynwood. 4. Downey. 5. Paramount. 6. Warren.

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* Suburban League--Artesia has lost little momentum since the graduation of Ed and Charles O’Bannon and Avondre Jones.

The Pioneers’ front line is comprised of seniors Kevin Daley (6-5) and Johnathan Nelson (6-8) and freshman Walter Small (6-5). The backcourt features a rotation of seniors Demond Winston (5-6) and Corey Jones (6-0), junior Dajuan Wilson (6-4) and freshman DeAndre Moore (5-9).

Bellflower, Norwalk and La Mirada return two starters each. Junior Kelvin Gibbs and senior Micha Lopez are back for Bellflower. Norwalk features Jamal Huff and Anthony Llamido, who earned all-league honors as juniors.

La Mirada, which had 190 three-point attempts in 1993-94, has Nolan Berentis and Mike Palumbo. Glenn is led by George Mack and Mayfair is built around seniors Shaun Valentine, Chris Riemer and Andrew Diggle.

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Prediction: 1. Artesia. 2. Bellflower. 3. Norwalk. 4. La Mirada. 5. Glenn. 6. Mayfair.

FAMILY TIES

Family pride will be at stake in the Almont and San Gabriel Valley leagues. And a family name lives on at Mayfair.

Bragging rights in a sibling rivalry will be on the line when Bell Gardens takes on Montebello in Almont League games Tuesday and Feb. 3. Bell Gardens is coached by Charlie LaCommare. Brother Dennis coaches at Montebello.

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A father and son coaching matchup is in the works when Gahr and Paramount take the court on Wednesday and Feb. 3. Vern Stewart is the coach at Gahr. Son Mark coaches at Paramount.

Tim Sweeney, the son of former Lakewood Coach Tim Sweeney, is the first-year coach at Mayfair. The elder Sweeney, who resigned at Lakewood in 1992, is now an assistant at Fullerton community college.

Lakewood, though, can boast of another family tie. The team includes brothers Rickie and Robbie Anderson, sons of Long Beach City College Coach Gary Anderson.

FOOTBALL AWARDS

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James Sherman of Whittier, The Times’ 1994 Southeast Lineman of the Year, headlines five area players selected to the Cal-Hi Sports magazine’s all-state team. The 6-4, 290-pound senior, who is being recruited by UCLA, USC, Washington, Colorado and Texas, was chosen to the first team as an offensive lineman.

Derrick Gay of Long Beach Poly was a second-team selection at defensive back and linebacker Brett Darnell of La Mirada was chosen to the medium schools team. Long Beach Jordan quarterback Ortege Jenkins was named to the all-junior team and Long Beach Poly wide receiver Kenyon Rambo was named to the all-sophomore team.

RAIN DELAY

The long-awaited debut of the Long Beach State women’s basketball team in the Pyramid has been put on hold at least until Wednesday when the 49ers play host to Cal State Northridge.

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Long Beach played its two-game homestand against Big West Conference rivals Hawaii and San Jose State in the old campus gym because of leaks in the Pyramid, the new $22-million arena, from recent rains.

The delay, though, has not affected the 49ers play.

Long Beach beat Hawaii, 86-59, Sunday and defeated San Jose State, 70-58, to improve to 5-6 and 3-1 in conference. The 49ers embark on a two-game trip at Nevada on Friday and at Pacific on Sunday before returning home for the nonconference game against Northridge.

Four Long Beach players, led by Melissa Gower’s 31 points, scored in double figures for the 49ers against Hawaii. Akia Hardy and Kim Barfield scored 12 and 11 points each and Sarah Davis chipped in 10.

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* Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda will be the featured speaker at the Long Beach State baseball team’s fund-raising dinner and auctions Wednesday at the Long Beach Renaissance hotel.

Dinner reservations are available for $75 a person and tables of 10 are $750. All proceeds will go to the 49er baseball program. Dodger third baseman Tim Wallach is among the current and former major league players expected to attend.

Information: (310) 985-4550.


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