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New Order Begins at Canoga Park

VALLEY PAC-8 BOYS

January 10, 1996|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

News flash: For the first time in a decade, North Hollywood High is not the team to beat in the Valley Pac-8 Conference.

Not at 3-11 entering today's conference opener against Canoga Park.

Forget about those eight titles in the past 10 seasons.

The Huskies are off to their worst start since Coach Steve Miller's first season in 1985-86, when they lost their first eight games.

Is this the beginning of the end for the Huskies?

Some opposing coaches think so.

But not all of them.

"I think North Hollywood has played a really tough schedule and their record is not indicative of what they're going to do in this league," Grant Coach Howard Levine said.

To be sure, North Hollywood has been beaten recently by some of the best.

In the Simi Valley, Las Vegas and Hart tournaments, the Huskies were defeated by teams from as far as Alabama to as close as Mission Hills, from as small as Moorpark to as explosive as Long Beach Poly.

Yes, North Hollywood--sporting victories against only Chaminade, Taft and Atwater--has played some tough competition.

More telling, however, is that the Huskies haven't knocked off any of the tough ones.

And that's where Canoga Park comes in. The Hunters are off to an impressive 11-2 start, have defeated a handful of above-average teams and show no signs of letting up in conference play.

Heck, even Miller is giving the Hunters the early nod: "I am very impressed with Canoga Park," he said.

Canoga Park, the Hart tournament champion, has five top-notch players who already have knocked off Antelope Valley, Palmdale, Hart and two Fresno teams.

The Hunters, ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times, have flourished under second-year Coach Ralph Turner, who said that his team needs to get to the City Section 3-A Division championship game to deem the season a success.

But Turner isn't looking past conference play.

"I still think Grant is gonna be tough; they find a way to win," he said. "And North Hollywood, they're always tough."

Turner isn't fooled by North Hollywood's dismal record. He knows better.

If the Huskies are anything like the 1985-86 team that was 0-8 before winning a game, beware. That team won 10 of its next 13 games, finished 8-2 in league play and made the playoffs.

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