Can this be so? It is only the third week of the season and Cleveland's basketball team is burned out?
Not burned, exactly, but a little singed around the edges; the Cavaliers have played five games in eight days.
Last Tuesday, Cleveland played a tough game against the top-ranked team in the Southern Section 4-A Division, Simi Valley, and lost, 86-77. That was tough enough, but then the Cavaliers traveled to the Bay Area on an off-day before competing in the Tournament of Champions at Pleasanton's Amador Valley High. The tournament is considered one of the premier events of its kind in the state.
While there, the team made a visit to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and checked out a few other sights. It also switched hotels once. After the Cavaliers won the tournament for the second consecutive year, they reboarded a plane and flew back to Los Angeles, where they played Valley League rival Fairfax on the road Tuesday night.
Don't get the wrong idea--Cleveland will play just about anybody any place anytime--it's just that all the run 'n' fun has left the Cavs fatigued.
"We had a few guys sleeping on the plane," Coach Bob Braswell said. "They were pretty beat."
One casualty of the whirlwind tour was senior guard Joey Manliguis, who missed school Monday because of a boil on his chin. Manliguis, who made the all-tournament team, scored a team-high 25 points in a 101-73 win over San Francisco Riordan in the tournament semifinals. Cleveland broke a tournament record for points in the win.
Cleveland showed signs of hitting the wall in the championship game. But after trailing most of the game, the Cavs defeated St. Joseph, 52-51, on a free throw by Lucius Harris with no time left.
Fatigue should not be a problem the rest of the season, however. The emergence of Harris as the hero is not surprising, and it underscored Cleveland's bench strength. When one player tires, there are plenty of others waiting to burn rubber.
Against St. Joseph, transfer Adonis Jordan scored a team-high 23 points and was later named to the all-tournament team. Senior forward Richard Branham, selected tournament MVP, had 19 rebounds against Riordan and 28 against St. Joseph.
Air Sisco?: More than once, Thousand Oaks quarterback Steve Sisco has been asked whether he would like to throw more than his usual nine or 10 times a game.
The response is always the same.
He shrugs his shoulders, grins a little and gets that bombs-away look in his eyes.
Then, as if snapped back into the reality of Lancer football, he says something like, "Sure I'd like to, but when you have two guys in your backfield like Marc Monestime and Mike Moore, who needs to pass?"
A quarterback questioning the need to pass?
Sounds unlikely, but Sisco has learned to channel his ability into a more fitting role. When in Rome, do as the roamers do.
The 5-9, 160-pound senior rushed for 507 yards, averaging more than four yards a carry. In the playoffs, Sisco gained 210 yards in 37 carries, despite being sacked five times for minus-40 yards. He scored three touchdowns in the four games.
One, a 41-yard bootleg around left end, finished off Antelope Valley in the Coastal Conference semifinals. In the final, Sisco shocked Channel Islands with a 67-yard scoring run early in the third quarter that gave the Lancers a 17-0 lead.
"Steve Sisco's a good athlete," Thousand Oaks Coach Bob Richards said. "He's not the big stud quarterback that all the Division I schools are looking for, but he's a good high school quarterback."
While the Lancers picked their spots to pass, Sisco threw for 762 yards and 12 touchdowns, completing 62 of 130 attempts. But Sisco's most significant contribution was as a leader.
"Sisco added a lot of leadership," Channel Islands Coach Joel Gershon said. "He was unnoticed when Thousand Oaks beat up on weak teams, but his presence became more important the better the opponent."
Sizing them up: Many basketball coaches spend the off-season charting the progress of players on their home computers, or by scouring their clipboards for an indication of growth in scoring, rebounding or assists.
At El Camino Real, however, progress also is gauged with a tape measure.
The Conquistadores have a trio of players who grew like weeds in the summer heat. Damon Orlando, Brent Lofton and Jason Steele each have sprouted four inches or more from last season.
Orlando, who stood 5 feet, 10 inches last season, is now 6-2 1/2. Lofton now stands 6-4, which is four inches taller than last season, when he started as a sophomore.
The biggest tree, however, is 6-6 Jason Steele, who has grown six inches.
Ask an El Camino Real coach about the size of these players and the answer is usually a height followed by ". . . and growing."
Add El Camino Real: The Conquistadores (2-2) lost their first two games when Lofton and Orlando were banged up. Orlando has a strained left wrist that forces him to play in a flexible brace--yet he has still scored 39 points in three games.