A tall and talented South boys' basketball team, boasting seven players with Division I scholarships, is expected to end the North's three-game winning streak in tonight's 23rd Orange County All-Star game at UC Irvine's Bren Center.
Adam Keefe, the county's player of the year from Woodbridge High School, leads the South team with a 27.2 scoring average. The 6-foot 9-inch forward ended his four-year career with 2,212 points to finish 11th on the state's career scoring list.
Bret Johnson, another highly publicized player, will join Keefe. Johnson led El Toro to two consecutive Southern Conference football titles and was named the state's football player of the year by Cal-Hi Sports of Sacramento. He has demonstrated that he is equally adept at point guard on a basketball court and was named a starter for tonight's game, which begins at 7:30.
Bobby Joyce, who also earned his share of headlines, will be the starting center for the South. Joyce (6-7) led Santa Ana to three consecutive Century League titles and will play basketball for Nevada Las Vegas next year.
But Joyce is best remembered for his role in a last-second play against Johnson and El Toro in last season's football playoffs, when what seemed be a sure interception of a Johnson pass was stolen from Joyce for the winning touchdown. This time, Johnson will be passing \o7 to\f7 Joyce.
Among the South's tuneups for the game was a scrimmage against a UC Irvine alumni team that featured Johnny Rogers and Bob Thornton, NBA players; Tod Murphy, the Continental Basketball Assn. player of the year, and Wayne Engelstad, an all-Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. selection the past two seasons.
The alumni team won, 138-120, but the South's front-line players of Keefe, Joyce, Steve Guild of Marina and Chris Tower of Westminster held their own. At one point, Johnson tried to drive the lane against Engelstad and emerged with a black eye.
The South also scrimmaged Orange Coast College, and afterward, OCC Coach Tandy Gillis said, "That's the best all-star team I've ever seen for this game."
Woodbridge's Bill Shannon, the South coach, acknowledged his team's talent, saying: "If you could keep this team together for four years in college, they'd be a nationally ranked team."
The North hopes to counter the South's size and talent with some old-fashioned hustle, hard work on defense and three-point shots.
Kennedy's John Mayberry, the North coach, is well aware that the South has been picked by local sportswriters to win the game for three straight years and has lost each time.
"From foul line to foul line, don't blink your eyes," Mayberry said. "The game will be like ping-pong. We're going to run, just like we did at Kennedy."
Forward Mike Goff of Magnolia, the county's leading scorer and rebounder, will lead the North. Last season, Goff averaged 28.2 points and 16.7 rebounds, and he scored 53 points in one game.
Brian McCloskey, a 6-7 string-bean forward from Sunny Hills, gets the imposing task of starting at center for the North. McCloskey knows a formidable opponent when he sees one. He wrote on his questionnaire: "I'm really looking forward to seeing how I play with and against the top players in the county."
The North's chances of winning were reduced considerably on Thursday, when Mayberry dismissed forward Kevin Rembert of Mater Dei for failing to attend practices. Rembert, who will attend San Diego State in the fall, played on four Southern Section championship teams at Mater Dei.
Mayberry has two players--guards Michael Keith and Wendell Lauderdale--from his Southern Section 3-A champion Kennedy team.
But the North figures to be outmuscled and outsized inside, prompting Mayberry to say: "If we make a layup, we should get three points."
Position Name School Height Avg. Guard Greg Bedford* Cypress 5-11 17.1 Guard Chris Bowen Western 6-2 19.8 Forward Mike Goff* Magnolia 6-6 28.2 Forward Kevin Graddy Buena Park 6-4 22.5 Guard Gary Hunter Buena Park 6-3 20.5 Guard Michael Keith* Kennedy 6-2 14.3 Guard Brian Kenney Servite 6-1 21.8 Center Dre Lamoureux Los Alamitos 6-9 20.9 Guard Wendell Lauderdale Kennedy 6-0 10.6 Forward Erik Martin* Whittier Christian 6-5 24.2 Forward Geoff McArthur Orange Lutheran 6-2 15.0 Center Brian McCloskey* Sunny Hills 6-7 17.7 Guard Brett Pagett Los Alamitos 6-0 15.3 Center Eric Shinkle Savanna 6-10 13.0
* Probable starters
Position Name School Height Avg. Guard Kenney Bennett La Quinta 5-9 16.0 Guard Gylan Dottin* Saddleback 6-5 17.0 Forward Steve Guild* Marina 6-6 19.5 Guard Bret Johnson* El Toro 6-1 17.1 Center Bobby Joyce* Santa Ana 6-7 25.0 Forward Adam Keefe* Woodbridge 6-9 27.2 Guard Charles Lockard Capistrano Valley 6-0 13.5 Guard Scootie Lynwood Santa Ana 6-0 12.0 Forward Leo Parker Tustin 6-6 20.4 Guard Geoff Probst Corona del Mar 6-0 13.7 Guard Craig Rice Ocean View 6-3 16.0 Guard Joe Small Bolsa Grande 6-2 23.3 Forward Eric Speaker El Toro 6-5 19.4 Forward Jeff Springfield Mission Viejo 6-6 13.5 Center Chris Tower Westminster 6-10 23.8
* Probable starters