League basketball play begins this week, and while waiting for apple-cheeked David Harbour's first arcing lob from 3-point range to fall through the peach basket, a wrap-up of nonleague and tournament games is in order.
The Channel League took 8 of 11 games against the similarly sized Marmonte League during football season and Marmonte teams also have been hard-pressed to compete against Channel teams on the hardwood.
Witness last week's Ventura tournament: Two of the top 3 Marmonte teams, Newbury Park and Camarillo, were defeated by decidedly average Channel teams. Ventura knocked off the Panthers by 10 points. Oxnard, which would not be favored against Ventura, edged Camarillo.
Is Ventura invincible? Not to Buena, which pummeled the Cougars, 98-68, in the final of their own tournament last week.
Westlake stands tallest in the Marmonte, but the Warriors lost to Ventura in the Beverly Hills tournament and were held to 29 points in a loss to Alemany last week in the Hart tournament.
The day before, Hueneme had defeated Alemany by 22 points. And Hueneme is a team believed to have as much chance winning the Channel League title as the Los Angeles Clippers have of taking the NBA championship.
THAT INEVITABLE INJURY
Every season, it seems, a dominant player is felled in the preseason. This time it is Eric Thomas, Rio Mesa's two-time All-County forward, who suffered a severely sprained left ankle last week in the Hart tournament. Thomas was driving to the basket after a steal and a defender tried to slide in underneath him to draw a charge. Thomas landed awkwardly and will miss at least 2 league games.
And it happened just when the Spartans, who were 7-3 in nonleague games, appeared poised to make a serious run at the Channel League title. They still might.
"Eric sprained his ankle last summer and we played 20 games without him," Coach Steve Wolf said. "So this isn't a big psychological thing with the players. They know they can win without him."
THROW OUT THE RECORDS
Because teams play in tournaments of varying difficulty, nonleague won-loss records are poor indicators of league strength.
Santa Barbara, for example, had a nonleague record of 5-4 but dropped games to powers Las Vegas Rancho and East Ascension of Gonzalez, La., in the Las Vegas Holiday tournament.
Dos Pueblos, on the other hand, is 6-3 but will be a serious underdog against Santa Barbara.
TAMING THE FRONTIER
Lou Cvijanovich served notice that no trigger-happy referee can topple his Santa Clara team more than once.
Leading by 12, the previously unbeaten Saints were the ones crying foul over the number of fouls whistled during the fourth quarter of a 39-38 loss to Huntington Beach Edison in the Estancia tournament last week. Cvijanovich objected to the fact that Edison players attempted 11 free throws to 3 for his team and refused to bring the Saints back for their next 2 games.
Santa Clara was 10-3 entering league play, forfeits included, but should have no trouble trampling the teams in the Frontier League. Excluding the Saints, league teams have a combined record of 9-34.
Rescuing the Marmonte League from irrelevance is a trio of talented sophomores who have won the confidence of their coaches.
Camarillo's David Harbour has had the confidence of his coach since the day the sophomore guard was born--his coach is also his father, John Harbour. Perhaps father knows best because David has made a bushel of 3-point tries and was named MVP of the Thousand Oaks tournament.
Newbury Park's Chris Falzone and Tim Lane are also sophomores making an impact. The Panthers began league play with the best record in the county at 9-2, and while senior Wayne Cook has the lead role, Falzone and Lane have more than bits parts.
Cook is the first to say so. "Chris is instant offense, a pure scorer," he said after Falzone scored 33 points in a Thousand Oaks tournament game. Lane has performed steadily at guard.