Basketball Coach Rick Sabosky might be the only person at El Segundo High who has mixed emotions about the football team's appearance in the CIF Northwestern Conference semifinals Friday.
Because nearly half of his team plays football, Sabosky watched the Eagles open the season Wednesday in the Pacific Shores Basketball Tournament with a seven-man roster and missing several returning starters.
Not surprisingly, the undermanned Eagles proved no match for experienced Palos Verdes, which cruised to a 73-47 victory at Redondo High.
Senior point guard John Mika led the Sea Kings with 25 points, including four 3-point shots, and swing man Mike Matteoni added 17.
El Segundo's absentees included seven football players, including three returning starters--forward-center Heath Jones and guards Dave Lubs and Joe Montanez. Another starter, junior forward Shawn Foster, suffered an ankle injury last week and will be out for at least two weeks.
"Maybe with those guys out there it might have been different," Sabosky said. "That's the difference between us and PV. Their kids are playing basketball all year round."
Palos Verdes, which has three starters from last year's CIF 3-A semifinalist team, meets Culver City in the quarterfinals at 8 tonight.
Sea Kings Coach John Mihaljevich was pleased with his team's effort, except for a brief stretch in the second quarter when El Segundo pulled within six, 23-17. Palos Verdes closed out the half with 11 unanswered points to build its lead to 34-19.
"We got off to a good start," Mihaljevich said. "But we didn't play with a lot of poise on the lead."
Palos Verdes, which held a 21-6 lead after the first quarter, blew it open in the third period. Mika scored 12 points in the quarter as the Sea Kings opened a 52-28 advantage.
"I thought Mika had an outstanding game," Mihaljevich said. "His floor leadership was very good."
Guards Jeremy Argo and Eric Spear led El Segundo with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Argo had three 3-pointers. The Eagles face host Redondo at 6:15 tonight in the consolation quarterfinals.
WEST TORRANCE 80 ROLLINGS HILLS 79 In the first round of the Pacific Shores Basketball Tournament Wednesday night, Phil Bendik of West Torrance High School stole the pot of gold at the end of Rolling Hills' rainbow.
An arching 3-point shot by Rolling Hills' Mark Tesar with 34 seconds left had given the Titans a 79-78 lead, and then West fouled reliable John Hardy in the back court with eight seconds remaining.
But Hardy's foul shot hit the back of the rim and West's Tim Stowe grabbed the rebound. Stowe hit a sprinting Bendik with the outlet pass and Bendik drove to the hoop to lay in the winning basket as time ran out.
West's dramatic 80-79 win over the defending tournament champion Titans at Mira Costa High could be a prelude to the Bay League this year. Both teams could contend for the title and the outcome may hinge on clutch plays like the one by Bendik, whose 29 points led all scorers.
"I'm still in dreamland," Bendik said. "On that last shot, I just went up against a couple of guys and it went in. It was a once in a lifetime thing, I guess."
Bendik's shot spoiled a dogged comeback by Rolling Hills, which trailed by 13 points in the third period. In the second half, Tesar, who finished with 19 points, connected on four 3-pointers and Hardy (18 points) sank seven baskets.
Sophomore guard Steve Clover (three 3-pointers) had 19 points for the Titans, and Stu Talley added 16.
"It's amazing how many points both teams scored," said Rolling Hills Coach Cliff Warren. "But I know one of their guys scored one point too many."
Jason Arquisch scored 12 points and guard Denny Hocking added 10 points and eight assists for West, which will meet St. Bernard in today's 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal game at Mira Costa.