As forecast, this was the year of the swing man in South Bay high school basketball, the season when most of the stars were guard-forward types who played bigger than they looked.
This is reflected in the 1987 Times All-South Bay boys team, where none of the 10 players is taller than 6-4 and only one is below 6-2.
If the team is smaller than some in the past, the players nonetheless rang up impressive accomplishments.
Doug Gehr and Cameron Terry led Rolling Hills to statewide prominence and a No. 1 CIF 3-A ranking for the entire season. The Titans were upset in the 3-A championship game but finished at 26-4. For the two seasons Gehr and Terry started, the team was 47-10.
Gehr, the team's tallest player at 6-4, was asked to do much of the inside dirty work and averaged 8.5 rebounds. He was also the top outside shooter and led the Titans with a 21-point average on 54% shooting. Gehr was the leading vote-getter in the poll of South Bay coaches. St. Bernard Coach Jim McClune deadpanned, "We held him to 32." Gehr was named CIF 3-A player of the year.
Terry, who handled both point and shooting guard duties, averaged 16 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Coach Cliff Warren noted that he was often at his best in the closing minutes of tight games. Terry and Gehr were co-most valuable players in the Bay League as well as first-team All-CIF.
Richard Holt of Carson gained prominence as a defensive back on the Colts' City championship football team, then shifted smoothly into the basketball season, which was already in full swing by the time football playoffs ended. He got a season-high 40 points against Crenshaw. Holt averaged 21 points and tied a school record by hitting 54% from the field. He added 7 rebounds per game to earn All-Marine League honors.
Hawthorne's Mike Lewis signed with Northern Arizona University before the season began, then proved he was a worthy recruit, averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds for the Cougars. His long-range jump shots led Hawthorne to contention in the Ocean League, where they finished second to eventual 4-A champion Santa Monica, the team's best showing in years.
Tim Little emerged as Morningside's inside man, leading the team in scoring with a 16.6-point average. He was also the top Monarch rebounder at 10 per game. Little's powerful presence around the basket earned him the Pioneer League MVP honor.
Serra's sweet-shooting James Moses didn't have the supporting cast he had as a sophomore, but he still led the South Bay with a 25-point average and increased that to 28 in Camino Real League games. The 6-5 swing man should be one of the most recruited players in Southern California next season.
Mike Sestich, a three-year player at San Pedro, often drew double and triple teaming but never forced his game. He averaged 17 points and 9.8 rebounds to earn co-MVP honors in the Marine League. Coach Jack Kordich noted that Sestich "was always the smartest player on the court." He had a season-high 38 points in the Pacific Shores Tournament.
Eddie Shannon, Gardena's feisty little guard, was a two-year starter and the Mohicans' top back-court player since the tandem of Jeep Jackson and Ontario Johnson five years ago. He averaged 16 points in Coach Tak Aoki's structured attack. Aoki noted that Shannon "can break pressure with either hand, is extremely quick and is a good perimeter shooter." Another coach called Shannon "tougher than nails."
Scott Talanoa, the largest player on the team at a burly 245 pounds, has been a three-sport fixture at El Segundo since he was a freshman. The four-year letterman, who also has played football and baseball, gave the Eagles a strong inside game with his relentless rebounding and had El Segundo in the Pioneer League race for the first time this decade. He averaged 16 points and 14 rebounds and led the team in assists to earn the Pioneer League's co-outstanding player award. Coach Rick Sabosky said one college scout called Talanoa "the best big man he had seen this year."
Last on the list alphabetically but first in many scouts' opinions is St. Bernard's David Whitmore, who has been enthralling Southland fans for three seasons with his astonishing leaping. A polished shooter and ball handler, Whitmore averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists despite playing on an inexperienced Viking team. He was named the Angelus League's outstanding player. Whitmore signed before the season with Georgia Tech.
Honorable mention goes to Torrey Alexander of Carson, Cory Arnett of Inglewood, Bryan Dell'Amico of Bishop Montgomery, Dewey Dominguez of Mary Star of the Sea, Todd Muck of Torrance, Jason Taylor of Palos Verdes, Tarron Wiley of Morningside, Ernie Woods of Chadwick and Mike Woods of San Pedro.