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March 10, 1994|MITCH POLIN

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Long Beach City College's bid for its first men's basketball title since 1976 continues today when it competes in the quarterfinals of the community college state tournament at the UC Irvine Bren Events Center.

The Vikings (29-6) play perennial Northern California power West Valley (29-3) of Saratoga in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. A win would advance Long Beach into Friday's semifinals against the winner of today's San Jose-Chaffey game.

Long Beach entered the state playoffs as the second-seeded team in Southern California behind Ventura (34-2), which is regarded as the tournament favorite. The Vikings advanced to the final eight with a 72-66 win over Saddleback on Saturday.

Long Beach has been led by sophomore forward Kevin Beal, freshman forward Marc Neal and sophomore guard Marcus Rogers. Beal, the South Coast Conference's most valuable player, averages 22.2 points and seven rebounds.

He became the school's career-scoring leader with 27 points in a victory over Southwest in the second round of the playoffs. He has 1,429 career points, 30 more than Dick Markowitz scored for Long Beach in the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons.

Rogers, selected to the All-South Coast second team, is averaging 16.7 points, and Neal, a first-team selection, averages 15.3 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds.

The Vikings displayed their depth against Saddleback, rallying from a 48-39 deficit in the second half behind freshmen Pete Sverkos, Chris Blanton and Marcus Woods.

*

Former Lynwood High basketball standouts LaTasha Burnett and JoAnne Williams played integral roles as Harbor College won its first state community college women's title last week.

Burnett scored 98 points, had 39 rebounds and 26 assists in three games to spark the Seahawks. She had 28 points and 10 rebounds in the team's 83-70 win over Golden West in the championship game at Solano College in Suisun.

The 5-foot-5 sophomore, who was the state scoring leader with a 28-point average, was named most valuable player of the tournament and shared California community college player of the year honors with Iseth Cowan of Butte.

Williams, a 5-6 sophomore, led the way with 38 points in the title game and was named to the all-tournament and All-Southern California all-star teams. Harbor is coached by former Compton High player and coach Louie Nelson.

LONG BEACH STATE

The Long Beach State men's basketball team will be out to defend its Big West tournament title when it opens play against Pacific at 3 p.m. Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The 49ers (17-9, 11-7 in conference) are seeded third in the tournament and Pacific (16-13, 10-8) is sixth. Long Beach lost at Pacific, 92-69, in January and defeated the Tigers, 88-75, on Feb. 10 at Long Beach.

New Mexico State (20-7) and Utah State (14-12) are seeded No. 1 and 2. Last season, the 49ers were seeded fourth but won the tournament to earn a berth in the 64-team NCAA tournament.

The 49ers won their final two Big West road games last week, beating Cal State Fullerton, 96-87, and UC Irvine, 91-72.

Long Beach has been led by junior forward Mike Atkinson, who averages 15.6 points and is the NCAA Division I leader in field-goal percentage at 69.2%. He is averaging a fraction more than senior swingman Rod Hannibal, who is also at 15.6 points.

Hannibal needs 45 points in the tournament to become the 11th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Two others averaging in double figures for the 49ers are junior center Terrance O'Kelley at 12.1 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds and freshman swingman James Cotton at 11.4 points. O'Kelley scored a career-high 25 points in the team's loss to Pacific in January, and Cotton had a career-high 23 points in the win over the Tigers in February.

The 49ers will play without starting point guard Jeff Rogers, who left the team for personal reasons after the team's win over Memphis State on Feb. 21. "Jeff is establishing new priorities in his life and has decided to focus on academics," Coach Seth Greenberg said.

PREPS

It has been a good season for Southeast-Long Beach prep basketball.

Six teams from the region reached the Southern Section finals in their divisions last week and four won titles.

Perhaps the least surprising were the girls' titles won by Lynwood and Valley Christian, which won the same divisions last season. Lynwood won the Division I-AA championship with a 53-46 win over Peninsula and Valley Christian took the Division IV-A title for the third season in a row by defeating Village Christian, 79-64.

Long Beach Poly's 71-60 win over Crescenta Valley in the boys' Division I-AA final also wasn't a major surprise, considering the Jackrabbits' past success. The only mild surprise was St. John Bosco's 55-54 win over highly regarded Dominguez in the boys' Division II-A championship for its first-ever Southern Section title.

But the teams could meet again in the Southern California Regional on Saturday at the Anaheim Arena.

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