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Huskies Get Their Guard Up

A smorgasbord of notes, quotes and opinions from across the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding communities:

The region’s best girls’ basketball guard combination in the City Section is the North Hollywood High junior duo of Tashean Thomas and Markia Derby. They’ve sparked the Huskies to an 11-0 record, the best start in Rich Allen’s 15 years as coach.

Derby moved to the area last year from North Carolina. As soon as she teamed up with Thomas, it was a perfect match.

“Me and Tashean know each other so well,” Derby said. “It’s like automatic what the other is going to do.”

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Derby, 5 feet 7, is averaging 14 points. Thomas, 5-5, is averaging 16 points. Derby can shoot from outside and drive to the basket; Thomas is the playmaker and hounds opposing players with her defense.

This is the best North Hollywood team since the Huskies reached the 4-A Division final in 1993. Can they make it back to the Sports Arena this season?

“That would mean the world,” Thomas said. “I think if we work real hard, we can accomplish that.” . . .

Boys’ basketball players always dream of playing in the NBA. Now girls are expressing similar aspirations because of the success last summer of the NBA-sponsored women’s pro league.

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“It gives girls like me the chance to be just like the guys,” Thomas said. “Guys always have that goal if they’re playing basketball to make it to the NBA. Now girls have that chance after college.”

Said Derby: “When I see the WNBA, I want to play there someday.”

Allen said the quality of girls’ basketball continues to improve.

“Before each team had one or two good players,” he said. “Now teams have five, six players. I used to get girls who never even played until high school. Now they’re coming in and play in junior high or [on] traveling teams.” . . .

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If the number of Burroughs boys’ basketball players with bleached hair keeps increasing, blame it on Pam Whitfield, mother of junior varsity player Bear Whitfield. She’s a hairdresser, and players like to consult her, said Coach Art Sullivan.

Forward Jeremy Cartee had blond hair two weeks ago, then shaved it off. The Indians have a freshman player known as “Little Cartee” because of his bleached hair.

Sullivan said he doesn’t mind the bleached hair as long as it’s “not blue, because that’s the color of our rival,” the Burbank Bulldogs. . . .

Campbell Hall first-year basketball Coach Brian Haloossim, a former assistant at Cal State Northridge, has done an excellent job molding the Vikings (8-2) into a competitive small schools team. The Vikings have little height but solid guards in senior Josh Glass and improving sophomore Mike Womack. . . .

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Two promising sophomore basketball players are Birmingham’s 6-6 Jesse Foster and Agoura’s 6-4 Paul Saunders. Foster can shoot from long range, but he’s so skinny Coach Al Bennett might want to invite him over for a turkey dinner or two. Saunders’ father, Dusty, played at Poly. . . .

Hart has quality quarterbacks lined up through the year 2000. Next season, it’s senior Kyle Boller’s turn to start. He’ll be backed up by junior Travis Nichol. Rising fast is Kyle Matter, a 6-1 sophomore-to-be who is still growing.

“How about sharing the wealth?” Malibu Coach Rich Lawson told Hart offensive coordinator Dean Herrington. . . .

Westlake’s baseball team made a positive impression at the Brea tournament last weekend. The Warriors reached the quarterfinals behind second baseman Ryan Cope (two home runs) and pitcher Jeff Boyle (four scoreless innings). . . .

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Notre Dame baseball Coach Tom Dill is hoping for lots of rain this spring because he has so many quality pitchers. That way he can play three or four games a week and take advantage of his pitching depth. Junior right-hander Phillip Polanco could be a dominating closer. First baseman Ryan Stonerock has been ripping the ball in winter ball. . . .

Former Notre Dame High pitcher Jack McDowell has begun throwing after elbow surgery last May. He became a free agent when the Cleveland Indians failed to exercise a $4.8 million option. He’ll probably throw for teams interested in signing him in late January. The Dodgers would be wise to take a look at the 31-year-old former Cy Young Award winner. . . .

Congratulations to former Providence High and Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Jeff Cirillo, who became a father for the first time on Christmas Eve. The newest Cirillo is named Jeffrey Cole. Let’s hope he can hit like his father. . . .

Former Chatsworth High and Pepperdine pitcher Derek Wallace left Friday to pitch this winter in Australia. Wallace, a reliever with the New York Mets, is on the comeback trail after surgery to remove an aneurysm in his shoulder. . . .

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Former Montclair Prep first baseman Brad Fullmer is the cover boy for the Dec. 21 issue of Baseball America magazine. . . .

Former Chaminade tight end Peter Foy, a Simi Valley resident, caught 20 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore starter for NCAA Division I-AA Liberty University. . . .

Former Chatsworth safety Rayna Stewart completed his second season with the Tennessee Oilers. He had 32 tackles as a backup defensive back and special teams player. . . .

Chaminade has decided to build an all-weather track at its West Hills campus. Construction is set to begin in June. . . .

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Matt Aidem, a 12-year-old pitcher/first baseman from Valencia, has been a dominant player in the William S. Hart PONY baseball league.

Eric Sondheimer’s local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422.


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