With no starter taller than 6-4, Moreno Valley Rancho Verde will rely on quickness and athleticism in its Division I-A semifinal tonight against No. 3-seeded Simi Valley at Perris High.
The teams have one thing in common, however. Both weathered tumultuous regular seasons.
Junior point guard Shaun Michel quit at Simi Valley (27-2) before the last game of the regular season after walking out at halftime of the previous game and being suspended for five other games for disciplinary reasons.
Rancho Verde (20-11) finished third behind Moreno Valley Valley View and Temecula Valley in the Sunbelt League. But the Mustangs upset No. 2-seeded Corona Centennial, 91-83, in overtime, in the second round after three of its players--including two starters--quit or were kicked off the team in the last two weeks of the regular season.
“The chemistry is much better now,” said first-year Coach Randy McAllister of Rancho Verde. “The kids understand their roles much better.”
When Redondo defeated Moorpark, 89-66, in a Division II-AA quarterfinal on Friday, it brought the illustrious career of senior guard Todd Tomlinson to a close.
Tomlinson, who averaged 24.7 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 steals, set school single-season records for points (716) and three-point field goals (92).
The four-year letterman also established Moorpark career marks for points (1,771), assists (305) and three-point field goals (235).