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The Preps / Scott Howard-Cooper : Newport Harbor Is No. 1, for Now


One game does not a convincing win provide in volleyball, but this was as close as Newport Harbor and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa were going to get in determining the top boys' team in the Southern Section, for now anyway. The only time it will really matter is the playoffs, right?

The teams met last Saturday at Redondo in the one-game semifinals of the Redondo-Mira Costa tournament. At stake: A trip to one of the top invitationals of the year, and a chance for No. 1 Newport Beach to solidify its claim or for No. 2 Mira Costa to take over the top spot.

Mira Costa was No. 1 for the first 10 points. The Mustangs jumped out to a 7-3 lead, but Newport Harbor called time out and came back to tie the score, 9-9. From there, the Sailors moved ahead, 12-9, and won, 15-9.

"The kids were definitely pumped," said Coach Dan Glenn of Newport Harbor, which then beat Rolling Hills in a best-of-three match for the tournament title. "They've been waiting for that one all year. There's no love lost between the two schools. We have a real good rivalry, both with the boys and girls."

Newport Harbor and Mira Costa remain the top two teams in the 4-A this week. Rolling Hills, which reached the championship match Saturday, jumped from seventh to fourth, and Santa Monica went from ninth to a tie for seventh. The Vikings made the semifinals the hard way, using impressive comebacks to beat Loyola, No. 1 in the 3-A, and City standout Palisades, the latter after trailing, 6-2.

Arcadia, which beat Newport Harbor twice in pool play, moved up one spot to third in the 3-A, with Loyola holding at first.

City volleyball playoffs will begin Wednesday. University is top seeded in the 4-A after a three-game sweep over perennial power Palisades last week in Western League play. Defending champion Granada Hills is No. 1 in the 3-A. Both finals will be May 15 at Pepperdine.

Chatsworth, last season's runner-up, is No. 2 in the 4-A, followed by defending champion Palisades and Roosevelt. The other seeded teams in the 3-A are Bell, Reseda and Belmont.

Four-leaf clovers and rabbits' feet have obviously become passe in high school baseball, but some superstitions still are prominent. A few from the area, compiled by The Times' Mike DiGiovanna:

--Villa Park third baseman Tony Inga has two game-day rituals: Eat Raisin Bran and tell a dirty joke when the infielders huddle around the mound before the first pitch of every game.

He also has a ceremony when he isn't happy with his hitting. He finds two small sticks or pieces of wood, tapes them together to form a cross, sticks the cross into the ground in the dugout, hangs his batting glove on the cross . . . and sets it afire.

"People think we're a bunch of pyromaniacs or something," he said.

So far, Inga has sacrificed three batting gloves.

--Dave Shetland, who wore uniform No. 6 last season as a shortstop at Laguna Hills, refused to stand next to the player who wore No. 7 because together they would add up to 13.

--La Quinta Coach Dave Demarest has a thing about uniform numbers, too. His is getting No. 21, which he wore while playing at Cal State Long Beach, but when he arrived at La Quinta 14 years ago, the jerseys were numbered 1 through 18.

"So I ordered 21 new uniforms, even though we only had 15 guys on the team," he said.

--Ken Miller, the Estancia coach, accidently left home April 3 without his red spikes and good cap. He ended up wearing an old cap from his car trunk and blue spikes that clashed with his team's scarlet, gold and white uniforms.

That day, Estancia left-hander Pat Norville pitched a perfect game in a 1-0 victory over Saddleback. That was all Millard needed to see. He continued wearing that outfit, and the Eagles won three straight.

"We haven't lost, so I haven't changed since," Millard said last week. "Of course, by telling you this, I'll probably get hammered tomorrow."

Sure enough, the Eagles went out and lost to last-place Newport Harbor, 4-1.

To which Laguna Hills Coach Jack Hodges said: "The ultimate superstition is to never admit you have them."

A touring junior national basketball team from the Soviet Union, with several members projected for the 1992 Olympics, will meet a contingent of Southern California all-stars, including some of the nation's best high school seniors, May 24 at Cerritos College.

The Southern Pacific AAU team will have LeRon Ellis of Mater Dei, Sean Higgins and J.D. Green of Fairfax, David Whitmore of St. Bernard, Jason Matthews of Santa Monica St. Monica, Tank Collins of Pomona, Sean Rooks of Fontana and Mark Georgeson of Huntington Beach Marina.

Brian Williams, Matthews' teammate at St. Monica, has so far said no, but organizers are still hoping to add him to the already-impressive American team.

This will be the eighth stop on the 10-city tour for the Soviets.

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