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March 17, 1994|ROB FERNAS

PROTEST AVERTED

Golfers upset with playing conditions at Victoria Park in Carson have called off a planned protest at the course after the lease to operate the county-owned facility changed hands this week.

Resident pro Eugene Hardy said a group associated with Arnold Palmer assumed control of the course Monday, staving off a protest that was planned for Saturday by members of the Victoria men's golf club.

"We've put (the protest) on hold," club president Benny Nickleberry said. "We need to give the new group a chance to come in and assess everything.

"We all know that Victoria Park has the potential to be the best county golf course. It's just a matter of getting it in A-1 condition."

Nickleberry, a regular player at Victoria Park since 1968, said conditions at the course have deteriorated in recent years, prompting the golf club to complain to previous leaseholder Jim Duffin and write letters to county supervisors. Among other things, Nickleberry said the grounds have not been properly maintained and the pro shop offers little in the way of merchandise and services to golfers.

Before learning that Palmer's group had purchased the lease, Nickleberry said the 150-member golf club was prepared to walk a picket line Saturday morning.

"We're definitely going to close it down," Nickleberry said Monday. "We want to make a point. If the county continues to increase the rates and doesn't provide any additional services to the customer and make improvements on the golf course, we feel we need to hit them in the pocketbook."

Nickleberry estimated that the course would have lost between $8,000 and $9,000 if the protest was successful in keeping golfers away.

Hardy, the resident pro since 1988, said he is optimistic that the new leaseholders will meet the golfers' demands.

"They plan on doing a lot of improvements and working with the county and the community," Hardy said. "I'm enthusiastic about it."

GEARING FOR FINAL

Jesuit High of Sacramento, which will meet Crenshaw on Saturday in a rematch of last season's State Division I basketball final, has been getting outstanding play from forward Ben Ammerman, a Loyola Marymount recruit.

The 6-foot-7 senior had 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists Saturday in Jesuit's 79-72 victory over Oakland Fremont in the Northern Regional final, and he had 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals Friday in an 80-58 semifinal victory over top-seeded San Francisco Balboa.

"His presence has been unbelievable," Jesuit Coach Hank Meyer said of Ammerman, who signed with Loyola in November. "He does so many little things."

Ammerman's duties include guarding the opponent's top front-court player, meaning he will probably match up against Crenshaw's Tremaine Fowlkes, a 6-7 forward bound for California. Ammerman averages 15 points and eight rebounds on a balanced team.

Jesuit (31-6) and Crenshaw (28-2) will meet at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum. Crenshaw won last season's title game, 73-66.

THE NEW ENGLANDER

Former Peninsula High basketball standout Matt Acres returned home last week for semester break after helping New Hampton prep school of New Hampshire win the New England Class A championship.

Acres, a 6-7 forward, was the third-leading scorer for New Hampton (23-2) with a 15-point average.

"I thought Matt had a great year," said New Hampton Coach Mark Tilton, whose team was mostly made up of post-graduates. "He was one of the most improved kids we've ever had. He really stepped up his game."

Acres' family chose to send Matt to a prep school, and pay most of the $18,000 tuition, in hopes of attracting college recruiters. He had virtually no scholarship offers after his senior season at Peninsula.

After a fifth year of prep competition, Acres has received offers from several lower- to mid-level Division I programs on the East Coast, including New Hampshire, Vermont, Rider, Monmouth and Siena. Rider will compete in the NCAA tournament for the second season in a row, and Siena was selected to the National Invitation Tournament.

But Acres said he would prefer to attend college on the West Coast after experiencing a brutally cold New England winter.

"I'm going to wait until after the signing period," he said. "Something might open up after that."

ALL-STAR ACTION

Many of the area's top senior basketball players have been selected to play in the South Bay Athletic Club's fourth annual all-star boys' classic and inaugural girls' classic March 25 at South Torrance High.

The doubleheader begins at 5 p.m. with a girls' three-point shooting contest, followed by the girls' game at 5:30, a boys' three-point contest and dunking exhibition at 7, and the boys' game at 7:30. Tickets will be sold at the door.

Following are the rosters, selected by the participating coaches:

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