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Is Inglewood the Team to Beat in '93-94? : Basketball: Area coaches were impressed by the Sentinels' play in summer leagues and expect the team to improve on last season's 20-10 record.

August 05, 1993|DAN REINES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With summer leagues over and the basketballs back in storage, South Bay coaches are starting to think about which teams will lead the pack next season.

So far, the smart money is riding on Inglewood High.

The Sentinels, under second-year Coach Patrick Roy, completed the summer with a 19-2 record, their only losses coming against Manual Arts and a team from Miami, Fla. Led by 6-foot-1 senior point guard Sam Turks, the Bay League's most valuable player last season, and 6-6 junior forward Paul Pierce, many expect Inglewood to improve on last season's 20-10 record.

"Inglewood is an excellent team," Redondo Coach Jim Nielsen said. "They're the best team in the South Bay, I'd say, without a doubt. If I was ranking for the Pacific Shores tournament right now, I'd seed Inglewood No. 1."

Added Mira Costa Coach Glen Marx: "Certainly Inglewood's going to be tough. It's Pat Roy's second year with the team and Turks is still there at point guard, so they have a real competitive team."

Roy agreed that his team has the talent to be better than last season, but he downplays talk of his squad being the best team in the area.

"I definitely think we've got a pretty good team," Roy said. "I don't know if we're the No. 1 team, but we'll definitely be one of the top teams in the area. We'll have a better record than last year. But to go to the semifinals in the (Southern Section) playoffs again, that'll be a tough thing to do."

After Inglewood, the picture get fuzzy. Marx said the graduation of players such as Morningside's Stais Boseman, Serra's Akeli Jackson and South Torrance's Jimmy Williamson has left the area without any dominant forces.

"Last year was an exceptional year," Marx said. "Last year the South Bay had three or four teams that just jumped out at you, and you knew they would win 20 games. But this year there's more parity. There are a lot of teams that could beat a lot of other teams, but none that will necessarily dominate."

Among the teams considered likely to challenge Inglewood in the South Bay are Redondo, with a strong backcourt of seniors Morgan Ensburg and Cecil Fletcher and sophomore Tremaine Mayeaux; Peninsula, with 6-7 sophomore Andrew Klein; and Leuzinger, with 6-6 senior Wendell Robinson and 6-6 junior Leonard Butler. Mira Costa, led by senior point guard Shane Willis, and Bishop Montgomery, with senior guard Jayson Sanders, are also expected to be competitive.

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When 6-6 off-guard Rick Price announced last month that he was transferring from Long Beach St. Anthony to Serra, he immediately became the South Bay's premier player. Joel Francisco of the Long Beach-based scouting service So Cal's Finest calls Price "the best prospect in Southern California."

"Ricky had an outstanding summer," Francisco said. "He's easily one of the top two or three (shooting) guards in the country. He combines athleticism with great skill. And I don't think he's reached his potential either. He has a few areas still where he could get a whole lot better."

Other players to keep an eye on during this season, according to Francisco, are:

* Paul Pierce (Inglewood), 6-6 junior forward: "He shoots well, he's athletic, and he handles the ball well. I consider him one of the top five juniors in all of Southern California."

* Tremaine Mayeaux (Redondo), 6-3 sophomore guard: "Tremaine's a very smart player for his age. He's a good all-around player. He can shoot from three-point land, he's fairly athletic, and I think he's still growing. I rank him in the top 10 in Southern California sophomores."

* Leonard Butler (Leuzinger), 6-6 junior forward: "I'd consider him one of the top 20 prospects in the junior class in Southern California right now. He's very athletic, very explosive underneath. He's got very raw offensive skills. Butler is another player who hasn't yet reached his potential."

* Andrew Klein (Peninsula), 6-7 sophomore forward: "He's a very good prospect. He's big and he can play against kids older than him underneath the basket. He knows how to play underneath. Klein is a smart player and he's strong for his age."

* Tony Harvey (Carson), 6-5 senior forward: "Harvey's a great athlete. He's a wing player, a slasher. Very athletic in the open court. He's a very good football prospect as well."

* Jason Pickett (Banning), 6-1 senior guard: "Jason might be the most explosive (shooting) guard in Southern California outside of Ricky Price. He has superior speed and quickness, and a good jump shot in three-point land."

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When Frank Califano took over as coach at West Torrance last year, it was clear that he was entering a program in disarray.

West hadn't won more than seven games in any of its previous five seasons. It was a program with little if any respect from the student body, much less from its competitors. And the image problem didn't stop there.

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