With Shon Tarver scoring most of the points and grabbing all of the headlines, Santa Clara High seems destined to win another State Division IV championship.
But one Frontier League coach is warning future Santa Clara opponents that there's more to the Saints than Tarver.
"If Shon didn't play there or if he was injured, someone else would come to the foreground," said Nordhoff Coach Dick Sebek, whose second-place team lost twice to Santa Clara, 71-47 and 89-55. "Excluding Tarver, there's not a drop-off in talent between their starters and reserves. Everything is run around Tarver, but they have some other good shooters and, of course, they're well-coached."
When Tarver scores 41 points, as he did last week against Santa Paula, it's hard to notice anyone else.
But the Saints have a talented guard in senior Bruce Howarth and a promising sophomore in 6-foot-4 forward Chris Cole.
Santa Clara (20-0, 10-0 in league play) also has Anthony Zuiraitis, a 6-foot-6 center-forward, coming off the bench.
"I don't think Santa Clara is a lock to win the Southern Section title," Sebek said. "Verbum Dei has a good track record. But if they or anyone else beats them, it will be a real upset."
Help is near: In the expanded Southern Section playoff format, even Santa Paula (3-19) received an at-large berth to qualify for the Division 2-A bracket.
In any event, the Cardinals have showed considerable improvement since the recent promotion of sophomores Joey Ramirez, Terry Bell and Charles Hyde.
Ramirez, the best shooter of the three, scored 35 points to give Santa Paula a 71-68 overtime victory over Santa Ynez Friday, and had 18 points in a 96-56 loss to Santa Clara last week.
Said Agoura Coach Kevin Pasky: "They're exceptional athletes. I'm surprised they weren't called up sooner."
Best under pressure: Trevor Taylor of Nordhoff earned this week's honors as best clutch free-throw shooter.
With three seconds left, Taylor, a 6-foot-2 forward, made two free throws to give Nordhoff a 48-46 victory in a Frontier League game at Calabasas on Feb. 6.
In the league finale against Agoura, Taylor forced overtime by sinking two free throws with three seconds remaining. Agoura won, 80-75, in double overtime.
Sure bet: Buena High was convinced its coach ensured a victory Tuesday against Pasadena, ranked eighth in the Southern Section 5-A Division.
Giving his best Knute Rockne impersonation, Hannah said in a speech Monday: "I have a real good feeling that the Bulldogs will win. In fact, I guarantee it or I'll quit coaching basketball."
Buena players were surprised to hear their coach risk his job for one game.
Only Lou Hamann, the school's trainer who listened to the speech, understood the irony of Hannah's prediction and ran out of the locker room laughing.
So did Hannah resign after Pasadena won, 84-73, Tuesday night?
He said the Bulldogs would win and he was right.
Both teams are nicknamed the Bulldogs.
Add coincidences: Both Buena and Pasadena lost last season in the 5-A semifinals.
Capistrano Valley defeated Buena and Irvine edged Pasadena.
Capistrano Valley won the title, 76-49.
Final shot: Buena High senior Jeff Oliver had 34 points in his final game. He finished the season with 757 points, including 118 three-point baskets, to place second on the Ventura County all-time scoring list.
Don MacLean of Simi Valley holds the record with 1,008, set in the 1987-88 season.
Football signing: Lance Martin, the Ventura County lineman of the year, has made an oral commitment to attend Northern Arizona.
Martin, a 6-1, 218-pound middle linebacker, led Thousand Oaks in tackles last season.
He also considered Cal State Fullerton and Army.
Playing for title: The Ventura College men's basketball team can clinch a berth in the upcoming state playoffs with a victory at Moorpark on Saturday night. The Pirates (24-9, 10-3) will finish first in the Western State Conference's Northern Division with a win.
Ventura defeated Moorpark, 91-71, earlier this season.
"We've been hitting our peak down the stretch," said Ventura Coach Phil Mathews, whose team has won seven of its last eight games. "But you never know which team will show up.
"Sometimes we're sharp and other times were very flat. We've had a leadership problem."
Ventura won the Northern Division last year and lost to Cerritos in the regional finals.
Pairings for the state tournament will be announced Tuesday. A total of 26 teams will receive bids.
The WSC is expected to receive as many as six bids.
The show must go on: Four of its players transferred to other schools before the season began, but the Channel Islands High girls' basketball team persevered to share the Marmonte League title with Westlake, its first league championship since 1974.
"Our main goal was to win league," said Channel Islands forward Candace Carper. "We have learned not to panic when we lose somebody and that it's not the end of the world. We just learn to adapt."