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1996-97 BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Empire League

December 03, 1996

Century. 16-10, 7-3 in 1995-96. Coach: Greg Coombs (eighth year, 96-60). Prospects: Although young, Century figures to make some noise. Guards Chris Lopez, who led the team with 12 points a game last season, Ricky Lopez, who sat out last season, and reserve Jose Caravez are seniors. They'll be joined by junior forward Terrail Zoller, who averaged 10.5 points and seven rebounds, and sophomore guard Hardy Fatu. Sophomore Mike Zepeda, a 6-7 center, is also expected to start. Others are junior guard Sakarine Sos and junior forward Julio Bogarin. "We should be a very balanced team," Coombs said.

Cypress. 24-5, 9-1 in 1995-96. Coach: Tom Gorrell (fifth year, 67-38). Prospects: All-league selection Wes Bunn Jr. is expected to compete for league MVP honors this season, after averaging 11 points and six assists a year ago. But Gorrell has to find a supporting cast for him, and he'll look to returning varsity subs Chris Heil, a 6-5 sophomore forward, and John Radaza, a 6-0 junior guard. 5-9 senior Shad Ali, 6-1 senior Jose Crawford, 6-6 junior Jayson Kolb, 6-1 senior Carl Skinner and 6-1 junior Travis Weaver all have a shot to start. "We have the ability to compete for the league championship, but our team will have to improve quite a bit," Gorrell said.

El Dorado. 13-14, 4-6 in 1995-96. Coach: Tim Tivenan (fourth year, 40-40). Prospects: The experienced Golden Hawks are the league favorites because they return three players with good height. "I believe we will contend for the league championship," Tivenan said. 6-6 forward Ryan Ayer, a first-team all-league selection who averaged 14 points, returns. Also back are 6-3 forward Mike Gartner and 6-7 center Ryan Tenpas. Others returners include guards Mark Baranick, J.V. Kennedy and Kevin Kirkreit and forward Todd Rotkosky. Transfers Andrew McMillan (Troy) and Shane Miyamoto (Esperanza) are looking for playing time.

Katella. 17-8, 5-5 in 1995-96. Coach: Tom Danley (30th year, 554-223). Prospects: With six varsity players returning, including three starters, the Knights shouldn't be overlooked. Jehovany Barraza, a 6-4 senior forward is back, as are 6-5 senior center Kenny Moreno and 6-0 guard Peter Rodriguez. Also back are senior forward Edgar Garcia and senior guards Hayes Kim and Andy Pike. Top newcomers include center Don Casey, guard David Cherson, forward Brandon Jordan and guard Ryan Luther.

Kennedy. 7-19, 3-7 in 1995-96. Coach: Pat O'Hern (first year). Prospects: O'Hern steps into the role vacated by veteran John Mayberry with the remains of a team that didn't do as well as many thought it would. But the Irish could surprise. Starting guards Jacob Kunz and Wade Murakami are back, as are forwards Mike Kao and Aaron Lewis and center John Dinsmore, all seniors. 6-4 sophomore swingman Tony Jimmerson has transferred from Palm Springs. Andre Banks, a 6-3 junior, is also trying for a starting berth. Said O'Hern: "Our goal is to finish in the top three in league."

Loara. 11-15, 2-8 in 1995-96. Coach: Ed Prange (seventh year, 56-94). Prospects: Senior swingman Obaid Popal and senior guard Neil Thomas have started since they were sophomores and bring experienced leadership to the team. Junior forwards Martin Banda and Mike Eshleman and senior guard Tatsu Ikeda came off the bench last season. 6-5 senior Will Hall might have to anchor the front line with Banda. Others making a run are newcomers Brian Brennan, Herb Garcia, Mike Morales and Kargbai Surary, all guard candidates. "Our strength is outside shooting," Prange said.

--Capsules by PAUL McLEOD

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