As the high school basketball season winds down toward the CIF playoffs, here is a look at the best 25 area teams, compiled by The Times' Southeast/Long Beach sports staff. Records are through games of Tuesday night.
1 LAKEWOOD--Tim Sweeney's experienced Lancers (18-5 won-lost record for the season, 7-0 in league play) can wrap up the Moore League title with a victory Friday night against Jordan High of Long Beach. Brian Camper, a 6-5 senior who has signed with Arizona State University, is averaging 21 points and seven rebounds a game. The team, No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division 5-AA, is so balanced that the sixth man, Tom Sellers, is averaging 10 points a game. Other senior starters are 6-8 Victor Camper (Brian's cousin), 6-6 Aaron Adams, 6-3 Andre Miller and 6-0 point guard Joey Sweeney, the coach's son who is averaging 10 assists a game and has broken the school assists record. "I've seen all the teams in 5-AA and have to believe if we are playing well we can beat anybody and win the whole thing (CIF)." Coach Sweeney said.
2 DOMINGUEZ--The Dons (17-4 overall, 9-0 in the San Gabriel Valley League) kept rolling Friday night with a 74-68 victory over Gahr High of Cerritos, despite the absence of Xavier Edison and Cory Cothrine, two starters benched by Coach Russell Otis for disciplinary reasons. Edison is averaging 14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. Derrick Thomas has picked up the slack, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Everyone in the starting five averages between 10 and 14 points, including Dijon Bernard (13.6) and Thomas (10.1). Seven different players have led the team, ranked No. 1 in Division 4-A, in scoring.
3 ST. PAUL--The Swordsmen of Santa Fe Springs are 15-6 overall and 3-1 in the Angelus League for Catholic schools. Greg Willig, a 6-7 senior, is averaging 27 points a game--11th in the Southern Section--and 12.5 rebounds. Jason Hart, a 6-2 senior, is averaging 20 points and has made 83 of 175 shots from 3-point range. John Overbeck, a 6-7 senior, averages 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds. The team is averaging 86 points a game and defeated St. Bernard, 103-101, Monday night, with Willig scoring 35. "The Angelus League is a good league," Coach Mike Dinneen said. "We hope to play Mater Dei for the league title. We lost to them the first time, but that was without Willig."
4 MILLIKAN--The Rams, 17-6 overall and 3-4 in the Moore League, have four starters averaging in double figures, led by Terry Hilliard (13.7) and 6-6 senior Jeep Jensen (12). The Rams of Long Beach, No. 9 in Division 5-AA, lost by three points at Lakewood in overtime. "These kids have been in a winning program and are continuing to play like winners," Coach Bill Odell said. "This is the best Moore League I have ever seen from top to bottom in the 18 years I have been here."
5 JORDAN--The talented Panthers of Long Beach (12-6 overall, 2-3 in the Moore League) are led by 6-3 senior guard David Mitchell, who is averaging 19.3 points a game, and 6-5 Kasey Brown, who is averaging 10 rebounds. "We need to get healthy," said Coach Ron Massey, who has been without Brown and Brent Woods in recent games. Massey does not anticipate Lakewood losing--"they are head and shoulders above the rest right now."
6 LYNWOOD--The Knights have the Southern Section's fourth most prolific scorer in 6-3 junior Earnest Killum, who is averaging 29.5 points a game. He scored 38 in a recent victory over Cerritos High. "He has outstanding range, jumps well and goes to the hole," Coach Bill Notley said. Lynwood, which has only one senior--point guard Mike Singleton--was picked to finish sixth in the San Gabriel Valley League, but has an 11-8 season record, 7-1 in the league. Charles Levy, a football star playing basketball for the first time, has made a big impact as a 6-2 center.
7 POLY--The young Jackrabbits, 14-8 overall, 4-3 in the Moore League, have been up and down but Coach Chris Kinder said, "I think we've learned how to win." The starters and their point averages: 6-6 center Willie McGinest (15), 6-3 forward Melvin Jones (16), 6-4 forward Roderick Hannibal (8), 6-0 guard Russell Edney (12) and 6-0 guard Keith Lester (9). Lester's two free throws gave Poly a 74-73 double-overtime win Friday night at cross-town rival Millikan. It was the Jackrabbits' second win over Millikan. Kinder said the Moore League is more competitive than ever.