Although the Redondo High boys' basketball program has lacked continuity the past two seasons, the Sea Hawks have maintained an atmosphere that is conducive to winning.
Buoyed by a 61-60 upset of rival Mira Costa Friday night, Redondo moved into a tie with Beverly Hills for second place in the Ocean League. The Sea Hawks are 11-8 and 2-2 in league play. Morningside leads the league at 4-0.
A basket by guard Morgan Ensburg with two seconds left to play sent Mira Costa (14-6, 1-3) to its fourth consecutive defeat.
Jim Nielsen, who previously coached at Mira Costa and North Torrance, is Redondo's third coach in three seasons. Steve Shaw resigned two seasons ago and is now an assistant at El Camino College. Successor Cliff Warren resigned after one season.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday January 28, 1993 South Bay Edition Sports Part C Page 13 Column 6 Zones Desk 1 inches; 20 words Type of Material: Correction
Basketball player--Bryan Kelly, a center for the Redondo High basketball team, was misidentified in a photograph in Sunday's sports section.
Nielsen, who teaches physical education at Redondo, says much of the credit for the Sea Hawks' success should go to the coaching staff.
The freshman team, coached by Mike Martinook, is 15-4 despite the fact that five ninth graders are playing for higher-level teams.
Two freshmen, Tremaine Mayeaux and Doug Francis, are playing on the varsity. Three others are on the junior varsity and sophomore teams.
The two varsity assistants are Harry Dinnell, a former coach with the Anaheim Amigos of the old American Basketball Assn., and Tim Meyers, who designed Redondo's defense. Meyers' defense helped Redondo limit Mira Costa forward Frank Zeno, the Mustangs' leading scorer, to three points on one-for-five shooting. As a team, Mira Costa shot 10 of 24 in the second half.
The junior varsity team, coached by Mark Hartman, is 15-6 and has at least three players who could have an impact on the varsity next season.
Junior center Brian Hattingh, a 6-foot-6, 205-pounder, has averaged 15 rebounds a game for the junior varsity after agreeing to leave the varsity so he could get more playing time.
"He is one of our major keys," Nielsen said. "We need him to be a banger around the basket next year."
Sophomore forward David Foot is the best athlete in the Redondo program, according to Nielsen, and sophomore guard Ahmad Holmes is one of the program's top defensive players. Although the sophomore team is only 4-12, the Sea Hawks are 4-4 after starting 0-8.
Dale Smith is coach of the sophomore team. Nielsen had coached Smith at Mira Costa.
Two sophomores who could contribute as varsity players next season are guard Brian Hyde, the younger brother of Dan Hyde, and Steve Paul, a 6-2 forward.
Nielsen said the freshmen team is, "As quick as any team in the league."
The freshmen are led by guards Paul Vincent, who is averaging about six assists a game, and Ryan Brower, who is averaging six assists and three steals.
Redondo's freshman team has limited opponents to an average of 40 points a game.
"It is a cycle," Martinook said of the school's talented freshman class. "Every few years you get a class like this."
Redondo has also benefited from the open enrollment policy the school put into effect this year.
All four squads get together on Saturdays during the season and run drills together. They give out certificates for top performances the previous week.
"It is a fun thing, we get together and go out for donuts," Martinook said. "We've never had anything like that before."
Several area basketball coaches are upset with a ruling last week by the Southern Section that guarantees only half of a league's teams automatic berths in the playoffs.
Although most coaches were in favor of eliminating the format where every team made the playoffs, they were unhappy with the idea of changing rules in the middle of the season.
"It was a big surprise for me," said Torrance boys' Coach George Tachibana, whose team is 9-10 and 2-2 in the Pioneer League. "We're already against the wall now. I'm not happy about (the Southern Section) announcing this at this time of the season."
Teams that do not finish in the top half of their respective league can still make the playoffs if they have at least 10 victories. But the bracket has to have openings after the automatic qualifiers are entered.
Said Mira Costa's Marx: "I feel very strongly that you don't change a policy in the middle of a season. I like the concept (of limited playoff teams), I just don't think you should change in the middle of a season.
"But that is a good lesson in life, you have to earn it."