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South Bay Cage Stars Can Dunk Like Giants

March 28, 1985|ALAN DROOZ | Times Staff Writer

The 1984-85 All-South Bay team features one of the smaller lineups in all-star annals, but don't let that fool you. Want to challenge some of these guys to a dunking contest? Go ahead, make their day.

With no player taller than 6-5, this team could intimidate opponents on the inside with the likes of Banning's Joe Johnson and Serra's Mark Sutherlin. Nearly every player on the team has dunked impressively. And the few who haven't have known success in other areas.

It's that kind of talent that led the 10 all-stars to the heights of their sport, height notwithstanding.

The team features several versatile players who could be listed at more than one position: Johnson, who played almost every position, and Banning teammate Eric Cooper, a big guard-small forward; guard-forward David Aaron of West Torrance; guard-forward Darrell Gordon of Morningside; center-forward Anthony January of Carson; one full-time center, Sutherlin; and a group of outstanding guards--Brian Browning of Inglewood, Pat Shea of Miraleste, Otis Livingston of San Pedro and Reggie Howard of St. Bernard.

Awards Ceremony Tuesday

The 10 and their coaches and parents will be honored Tuesday along with all-star squads from other Times suburban areas in an awards ceremony in Harry Chandler Pavilion at Times Mirror Square. Players will receive traditional Times plaques and certificates, and a South Bay player and coach of the year will be announced. USC Coach Stan Morrison will speak.

The players were chosen by ballots of South Bay coaches, along with observations by scouts and sportswriters.

For excitement, it's hard to top Banning's Johnson, youngest brother of pro star Dennis Johnson. The 6-4 senior, reputed to have the greatest vertical leap of any high schooler in the country, electrified fans, teammates and opponents nearly every game with astonishing jumps and dunks. This year he also added a dependable jump shot to average 16 points and earn first-team all-City honors. He projects as a college guard despite his average of about eight blocked shots per game.

Another electrifying player is San Pedro point guard Livingston, whose long arms and mercurial moves often produced steals for breakaway dunks despite his 6-foot height. Livingston ran San Pedro's outstanding fast break and led the Pirates to their third straight Eastern-Marine League title and an appearance in the City 3-A championship. His averages of 15 points, 8 assists and 3 steals earned him honors as league co-player of the year and first-team all-City.

Cooper, Aaron Consistent

For consistency, you can't do much better than Cooper and Aaron, both of whom escaped recruiting pressures by signing with colleges before the season. Cooper, an outstanding shooter and leaper headed for the University of Arizona, averaged 23 points and increased that to 29.7 in three playoff games. He was named MVP of the Banning Tournament. Manual Arts Coach Reggie Morris, who played Banning four times this year, tabbed Cooper "the best guard in Los Angeles." Cooper was also named first-team all-City.

Aaron, an all-Bay League selection for three straight seasons, combined the shooting and power play of a forward with the passing and instincts of a guard to lead West High to second place in the Bay League. Aaron, the area's leading scorer at 25 points per game, was named the league's MVP as well as outstanding player in the Pacific Shores and Torrance tournaments--despite the fact that West didn't win them. Aaron will play at Santa Clara University.

Sutherlin, the only true center on the team, probably will play forward in college at 6-5. But the burly 220-pounder was Serra's force in the middle as the Cavaliers tied for the Camino Real League title and reached CIF 5-A semifinals. The senior, who started slowly, finished with 74 points in three playoff games to average 14.8 points and 10.5 rebounds for the season.

January Strong Scorer

January, the only junior on the team, established himself as one of the area's best inside scorers and led Carson with a 19.2-point average. The 6-5 left-hander, reminiscent of former Carson star Eldridge Hudson, had several of his best performances in big games, including a 28-point effort and the game-winning free throws in a victory over Banning. He made first-team all-City.

Good guards do things that don't show up in the box score, and several are all-stars as much for leadership as scoring ability. Inglewood's Browning averaged only eight points but recorded eight assists per game and handled the ball most of the time to lead the Sentinels to the Ocean League title. His play won him Ocean League MVP honors. Coach Art Bias noted that Browning "was the key to our defense and leader of the team." The 5-9 1/2 senior was also all-South Bay in football.

The feisty Howard ran the offense and was St. Bernard's coach on the floor. He led the team in scoring at 13 points per game and five assists and was the most intense Viking.

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