David Robinson is in the NBA, but Ventura College still must contend with Smith Scott and Charles Chapman of the United States Navy today in the first round of the Ventura tournament.
Smith, a bulky 6-foot-7 center, and Chapman, a 6-2 sharpshooting guard, are the class of the Pt. Mugu basketball team. And they are playing in a junior college tournament, even if they don't have to attend class.
A team from the Port Hueneme base will also compete, opening the tournament today against Oxnard College.
Ventura Coach Phil Mathews had trouble filling the field after the tournament was rescheduled from Thanksgiving weekend to this week. Teams from the local Naval bases, already in shape from competition with other bases, gladly stepped in.
"We have a very good offensive team," said Coach Sonny Burse, whose Pt. Mugu team has a 5-1 record against bases from China Lake to Long Beach.
Pt. Mugu's only loss is to Port Hueneme, which has a 6-3 record.
"We have a good group of guys," said Debbie Jorgenson, assistant athletic director at the Hueneme base.
Port Hueneme has a regulation gym on base and has been practicing regularly. At Pt. Mugu, conditions are less ideal.
"Our floor is OK, but the walls are real close to the court," Burse said. "After you make a layup, you don't have much room to stop."
The Naval players, who range in age from 20 to 45, must try to slow 18- and 19-year-olds from Ventura and Oxnard, two of the better junior college teams in Southern California.
"I'll be surprised if we stay with them," Burse said.
Heading the Port Hueneme squad are James Soloman, a 23-year-old 6-4 center who played guard in junior college, Fincher Meeks, a 6-4 forward who is physical on the boards, and Steve Hayes, a 29-year-old 6-2 forward who is an adept outside shooter.
Soloman has applied to try out for the All-Navy team, which competes against all-star teams from the other service branches. "He has a good shot at making the team," Jorgenson said.
The primary disadvantage facing the Naval teams is their lack of practice time. "We don't practice every day because everybody gets off duty at different times," Burse said.
Add Ventura tournament: Ventura and Pt. Mugu meet at 6 p.m. and the Oxnard-Port Hueneme game follows at 8.
Fresno City College and L. A. City College open the tournament at 2 p.m. Malcolm X College of Chicago faces Harbor College at 4.
Add Ventura: The Pirates (6-2) have been pleasantly surprised by the play of forward Lester Neal, a freshman from Dunbar High in Chicago. Neal averaged 28 points and 13 rebounds a game last week in the Moorpark tournament.
"He's made an impact already," Mathews said of Neal, who is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds on the season.
Passed out: The Ventura College football team couldn't snap out of its late-season tailspin, losing to Palomar, 21-20, in the Hall of Fame Bowl at San Diego City College last Saturday.
The Pirates lost their last four games after opening the season with seven victories.
Palomar quarterback Scott Barrick, the nation's leading junior college passer, threw for 385 yards and completed 33 of 52 passes in the loss.
Ready for service: Ted Lawrence believes that a high school career spent earning nearly straight A's and protecting quarterback Tim Gutierrez has prepared him for appointment to a military service academy.
A 6-2, 215-pound center and defensive tackle at Santa Clara High, Lawrence would like to attend either West Point or the Naval Academy on a football scholarship. Both academies have expressed interest in Lawrence, who holds a 3.9 grade-point average.
Hi-Desert Honors: Joe Davis, quarterback and coach of the Ventura County Cardinals semipro football team, was named most valuable player of the California Hi-Desert League. He is one of 12 Cardinals named to the all-league team.
Davis, who is also an assistant coach at Oxnard High, was thrust into the quarterback role after Kevin Hicks was injured in the fourth game of the season. A San Diego State standout, Davis, 33, threw for 14 touchdowns, more than 1,700 yards and he completed 61% of his passes.
Several other Cardinals were honored. Inside linebacker Darrin McNally was named defensive player of the year and outside linebacker Paul Wilson was named comeback player of the year.
Other Cardinals named to the all-league team were Barry Walker (wide receiver); Pete Butcher (tight end); Bo Brooks (tackle); John Guerrero (tackle); Tim Fahringer (kicker); Mark Sager (defensive line); Mike Velasquez (defensive line); Miller Aipiu (linebacker); and Bobby Caron (safety).
The Cardinals were league champions with a record of 7-0, 11-2 overall.
Division dandies: The Moorpark football team swept the offensive and defensive player-of-the-year awards in the Northern Division of the Western State Conference.
Moorpark running back Freddie Bradley was named the Northern Division offensive player of the year as well as the WSC player of the year. Linebacker Tom Briggs was voted defensive player of the year.