The United States isn't known best as a nation of agronomists and horticulturists, but it sure grows a lot of good basketball players.
And the crop from Westside high schools gets better every year.
Among the boys, the 1986 Times All-Westside team is almost certainly the most talented in the dozen years that The Times has been honoring local all-star teams.
This year's girls All-Westside team also has excellent players. But there are so many capable boys that The Times could probably have named three All-Westside teams without much of a drop-off in ability between the first and the third squads.
And the girls should catch up in a few years. Their programs haven't been around as long as those for boys.
11 Teams Over .500
There were 11 boys teams that had records above .500, and their combined record was 201-76, a remarkable winning percentage of .736. Nine of the teams were either champions or co-champions of their leagues. Daniel Murphy won the CIF-Southern Section 2-A title. Crossroads won the CIF-SS 1-A and Southern California Regional Division III titles and was the Division III state finalist. Bel-Air Prep advanced to the finals in the CIF Small Schools Division.
There were also some strong performances among girls teams.
Crossroads won more games than any other Westside girls team. The Roadrunners won the Delphic League championship with a 10-0 record and finished 20-2 overall, including a win and a loss in the CIF-SS Small Schools Division.
Hamilton went to the Los Angeles City 3-A finals, the first time one of its girls teams got beyond the first round of the playoffs. Fairfax, a 3-A city finalist last year and 3-A champion in 1984, moved up to 4-A competition and went to the quarterfinals.
Culver City lost three star players to graduation from last year's squad, which finished with a 24-2 record and recognition as one of the state's best. But this year's inexperienced team finished at 19-7, including a 1-1 performance in the CIF-SS 4-A playoffs.
Sunshine League Leaders
In the girls' CIF-SS 1-A Sunshine League, Marymount won the title with a 10-0 record and finished with a 17-6 overall mark after going to the second round of the playoffs. Notre Dame Academy was 10-2 in the Sunshine League and 17-6 overall, and the team's league losses were each by one point to Marymount.
The Santa Monica High girls bounced back from a losing record in 1985 to finish this year with a 10-2 mark in the Bay League, which was good for second place, and a 12-7 overall mark.
Because of the abundance of winning teams and top players, selection of this year's All-Westside teams was more difficult than in any other year, particularly for the boys. There were so many stars in higher levels of competition among the boys that players from lower levels, for the most part, had to be excluded from the 10-man team and be given honorable mention.
Selections to each of the 10-player teams was based primarily on nominations from coaches.
This year's all-stars for the boys are Carrick DeHart of Santa Monica, Derek Drain of University, Earl Duncan of St. Monica, Andre Gougis of Daniel Murphy, Keith Harris of Santa Monica, Sean Higgins of Fairfax, Jason Matthews of St. Monica, Chris Mills of Fairfax, Marvin Nelson of Culver City and Marc Rudolph of Crossroads.
The girl all-stars are Jennifer Blinderman of Crossroads, Krystall Cade of Hamilton, Demetrice Davis of Fairfax, Santa Monica High twins Kathleen and Marianne Dixon, Missy Kurt of Notre Dame, Cathy McNamee of Marymount, Nina Revoyr of Culver City, Emilza Tielemans of Hollywood and Stacie Washington of Palisades.
Repeaters from last year are Duncan, Higgins, Rudolph, Davis (her third time), Kurt and Washington. Higgins is the tallest boy at 6-8 1/2 and Washington, 6-2 1/2, is the tallest girl. The smallest boy is Gougis, 5-6, and the smallest girl is Cade, 5-4.
All-stars from the Westside and nine other Times circulation areas, their parents and coaches will be guests of The Times at a 9 a.m. awards brunch Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel, 1150 W. Cerritos Ave., Anaheim. Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick, whose teams have gone to the NCAA Tournament in four of the past five years, will speak.
At the ceremony, players will receive trophies and certificates. Area players and coaches of the year also will be named.
The Westside girls team:
Blinderman--On a team with balanced scoring and rebounding, she led the way with 12 points and nine rebounds a game. An All-Delphic League selection, she is her coach's top nominee.
Cade--A steady player in all phases of the game. Her averages: 16 points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds from her guard's position.
Davis--An All-Westside selection as a sophomore at Santa Monica High and for the last two years at Fairfax. Her team's top scorer with an average of 25 points, she also averaged 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.