El Camino College capped a successful Metropolitan Conference basketball season by placing five players on the all-conference squad, including the league's player of the year, Mark Wade.
The Warriors, top-ranked in the state and owners of a spotless 14-0 league record (29-1 overall), had forward Dwayne Lewis and guard Greg Hill join Wade on the first team. Second-team honors went to forwards Todd Porter and Roland H'Orvath.
Wade, a sophomore playmaker from Banning High School, led the state in assists with 305, a remarkable 10.1 per game. He also contributed 7.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Hill and Lewis paced the Warriors in scoring, averaging 14.9 and 13.6, respectively.
Coach Paul Landreaux, with one state title to his credit, will now begin preparing his troops for this year's tournament, slated for March 14-16 in Fresno. El Camino gained automatic entry by winning the conference title.
4 Play for 2nd Berth
The second Metro representative will be the winner of a playoff involving the league's next four runners-up: Long Beach City, Santa Monica, Pasadena and Harbor. Long Beach is the lone team to defeat El Camino, a 54-52 non-conference decision.
"I don't believe that a loss is ever beneficial," Landreaux said. "But the kids bounced back very well. They understood better what we needed to do to win."
El Camino went on to defeat Long Beach twice in Metro play and has yet to lose since that Dec. 7 setback.
"There isn't any pressure on us anymore," Landreaux said. "To go to the state tournament now is like icing on the cake. The kids will be excited and ready to play. I don't think there will be any pressure to win the state title. We're going to have fun playing in it, period."
The 12 Southland entrants in the tournament will be seeded by a Southern California playoff committee Sunday. The top four will gain first-round byes. The remaining eight will square off March 8, with the winners advancing to Fresno.
Warriors Quick, Deep
Quarterfinals will be played March 14, semifinals March 15 and championship and consolation games March 16.
Depth and quickness could be the Warriors' primary allies.
"Those are the two main things which I think this team has over any one team," Landreaux said. "The other thing is that this team is extremely diverse. We can do more things defensively than any other team I've coached."
El Camino opponents would agree with Landreaux. The Warriors led the state in fewest points allowed per game (51.2) and were among the leaders in points scored (75.5).
Wade, who transferred to El Camino from the University of Oklahoma last year, plays a substantial role in Landreaux's offense. His playmaking enabled El Camino to produce the state's highest field goal percentage (61.9%). Incredibly, the Warriors bettered that in league play, shooting a conference record 64.2%.
Hill and Lewis may lead El Camino in scoring but certainly don't dominate the offense. Porter, H'Orvath and frosh center Darnell Jermany all contribute points, as well as rebounds, another statistic in which El Camino led the Metro Conference.
Forward-center John Wyatt and guard Dion Wright provide the depth that Landreaux thinks might be the difference in the state tournament.
"In order to win state, you have to come mentally prepared to play every night," Landreaux said. "And when my guys are prepared to play, they're as good as any junior college team I've ever seen."