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THE PREPS / ERIC SHEPARD

Oakland Loses Lock on Basketball Finals

March 21, 1995|ERIC SHEPARD

OAKLAND — Will the finals of the state basketball tournament ever return to the Oakland Coliseum Arena, site of the event 13 of the last 15 years?

With so many attractive options, do not look for the CIF to return to Oakland. The Coliseum Arena, built in 1966, might be remodeled or torn down, depending on what the Golden State Warriors decide to do. They are the venue's main tenant.

The uncertainty prompted CIF officials to look elsewhere, and next year's finals will be held at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. The Pond of Anaheim is being recommended as the site in 1997.

Margaret Davis, CIF associate commissioner, wants the finals to alternate between Northern and Southern California and said the San Jose Arena is another option.

The Coliseum Arena has been a good site for the finals, drawing large crowds annually. A near sellout of 14,173 attended the boys' Division I game Saturday between Santa Ana Mater Dei and Oakland Fremont.

But with growing interest in the event, some believe it is unfair to keep it in the same location every year.

"I think it is a real advantage for Northern California teams to always play the finals in their own back yard," said Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight, who has won three titles. "It's also a financial hardship on teams and their fans to travel that far. It's time to spread it around."

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If the CIF decides to alternate venues for the basketball finals, expect another sport to follow suit.

Several section commissioners have expressed concern that if basketball moves, too many state events will be held in Southern California.

"Nothing has been formally discussed or voted on yet, but I expect other venue changes," said Marie Ishida, president of the CIF Executive Committee and principal of Carmel High. "There's the possibility we would alternate sites for volleyball or wrestling or something like that."

*

Mater Dei, which finished the season as the No. 1-ranked boys' basketball team in the Southland by The Times and in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, was not its normal dominating self Saturday without center Shaun Jackson and forward Schea Cotton in the lineup.

The two players picked up their fourth fouls early in the third quarter and each missed about eight minutes of the second half. Their absence allowed Fremont to erase a 13-point deficit, and Frank Knight's desperation three-point shot at the buzzer tied the score at 65.

Cotton, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, and Jackson, a 6-8 senior center, scored two points each in overtime and controlled the boards to lead the Monarchs to a 71-67 victory. Cotton finished with a game-high 29 points.

Jackson will attend Wyoming in the fall, and Cotton presumably is returning to Mater Dei. He transferred from Bellflower St. John Bosco in December of 1993, and the rumor mill has him transferring again.

Neither Cotton nor Mater Dei coaches, however, would confirm those rumors. But without Cotton, the Monarchs would be hard pressed to defend their title.

*

Although the Compton Dominguez boys' basketball team was upset Friday by Mountain View St. Francis in Division II, 73-65, the Dons (32-3) figure to be a force next season.

The team will have three starters and two other experienced players back. Point guard Kenney Brunner, a 5-9 sophomore who is often compared to Tyus Edney, is one of the area's top players at his position. Forwards James Jones, a junior, and Jason Thomas, a freshman, are also talented.

Dominguez had better talent than St. Francis but showed its inexperience with poor shot selections and complaints about officiating.

If Coach Russell Otis can maintain his composure as well next season, the Dons should make a run at No. 1.

Prep notes

Duane Davis of Fairfax and Ben Sanders of Westchester have been named City Section Division 4-A players of the year by a panel of sportswriters. In 3-A, Johnnie Sanders of Franklin and Brian Jones of Wilmington Banning are players of the year. In the girls' 4-A, teammates Kristi Lattin and Naila Moseley of Crenshaw share the honor, and Kawai Matthews of Harbor City Narbonne is the recipient in 3-A. . . . Pete Pyle was fired as girls' basketball coach at Garden Grove Rancho Alamitos last week after players in the program voted for his ouster. Pyle was 20-7 in his first year and 8-14 this season, his second. "You have to please the parents during the season, and now it's to the point where I have to please the girls at practice too," he said. "If that's the way it's going to be, I don't want to be in the profession."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Times' Basketball Polls

The Times' final top 20 high school basketball polls, with teams from the City and Southern Sections.

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