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1995-96 BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW : It's Not All That Easy Picking League Favorites : Boys' basketball: Here's the skinny on a season that will feature balance and probably more than a few unpredictable plot twists.

November 28, 1995|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The operative word this year is balance, and it's being echoed around the county from gymnasium to gymnasium.

Seems like just about every league race is expected to come down to the wire. Every team has a couple of players coming back, and every team has a couple of new faces.

Here's a sample of some coaches' responses about their teams' chances this season:

"This is a very balanced year," Cypress boys' basketball Coach Tom Gorrell said. "It seems that some teams that are usually pretty good are not as good as last year, and some that were OK have gotten better."

Trabuco Hills Coach Rainer Wulf and Mission Viejo's Joe Reid predicted five South Coast teams had the potential to be top 10 teams in Orange County.

The Empire League, according to veteran Coach Tom Danley from Katella, "appears to be a well-balanced league with all teams showing promise."

Magnolia's Al Walin on the Orange League: "I'd say Brea is the favorite and all the other teams are about the same."

The Sea View is a "very tough league this year," according to Santa Margarita Coach Jerry DeBusk.

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Not everyone feels they are in the hunt, though. Said Newport Harbor Coach Larry Hirst: "If we win more than 10 games it should be a feature story on 'Miracles in Sport.' "

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Seems like every season the list of players who transfer schools gets longer for various reasons. Here's some of the players who have new school allegiances:

* This year's most celebrated round-trip transfer has been Austin Moherman, the football quarterback at Capistrano Valley who was an All-South Coast League basketball selection last season at Mission Viejo. He made a little detour to L.A. Wilson for one football game before returning to the Saddleback Valley.

* Lest we forget, Shea Cotton was probably the best underclassmen in the country last season at Mater Dei. As a sophomore, he led the Monarchs to their third State title. But now he's back at Bellflower St. John Bosco, where he began his odyssey as a freshman in the 1993-94 season.

* Moherman has company at Mission Viejo, where the Diablos picked up Orlando Campbell, a 5-foot-8 guard from Aliso Niguel, Sherman Frazier, a 6-6 post player from Trabuco Hills, 6-1 swingman Gabe Delgado from Mater Dei and 6-foot swingman Erik Victor from Ocean View. Also, exchange student Soren Hansen, a 6-8 post player, is a long way from his native Denmark.

* Not to be left out of the buildup in the South Coast League, Trabuco Hills has three new players trying to make the varsity. They are: Kevin Troy, a transfer from Corona Centennial; Miles McClain, who moved from Illinois, and Chris Majors, a transfer from Santa Margarita.

* Junior guard Isaiah Cavaco, a junior varsity player of note last year at Mater Dei, is at Villa Park, presenting the Spartans with a potential point guard to feed 7-1 center Eric Chenowith.

* Santa Ana Valley got Olujimi Mann from Mater Dei a month into his sophomore year in 1993. Now a senior, Mann is playing for one of the county's best teams. He is expected to get even better with the addition of 6-4 Beau Wallace, formerly of Century.

* William Byrd, a 6-3 transfer from Plano High in Texas, is expected to start at point guard for Canyon.

* Savanna, admits first-year Coach Jim Perez, hasn't been known as a basketball power. But when the Rebels lost 6-5 Lee Myer, who moved out of the area, and 6-6 Cory Gority (now at Corona del Mar), they lost a lot.

* St. Margaret's, the odds-on favorite to win the Academy League, got transfers Josh Del Pino, formerly of Mission Viejo, and Larry Guesno, who was attending Long Beach St. Anthony. "These are boys who came here to take advantage of academics and contribute to us, where as they may not have made a contribution where they were at," Coach Garrett Ohara said.

* Lester DeRand, a 6-3 junior guard formerly of Riverside J.W. North, is at Tustin.

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It's not easy coaching your kid.

Capistrano Valley Coach Mark Thornton knows. His son, Brad, a 6-5 senior forward, is expected to start for the Cougars.

"I think I have a tendency to get on my own kid more than other kids because you don't want the other kids to think that you give him any slack," Mark Thornton said.

"Sometimes I think that I am harder on him unnecessarily, more than any other player."

But there are benefits, as well, the coach said.

"It's very gratifying when he does something good," he said.

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Talk about bad breaks. Thornton's Capistrano Valley team hopes to rebound from several it suffered last season.

First, 5-11 guard Greg Demmelmaier broke his leg when he landed on a teammate's foot coming down with a rebound. Then Brad Thornton landed wrong on his leg during an attempted layup when an opponent knocked him off stride as he went up.

Adding insult to injury, the mishaps occurred before the start of South Coast League play. The Cougars finished 4-6 and in fourth place.

"They were pretty bad breaks," Mark Thornton said.

The Cougars hope to get a few good breaks this season.

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