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STATE BASKETBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW

Monarchs Open Play Tonight

March 11, 1997|PAUL McLEOD and MARTIN HENDERSON

The first round of the State Basketball Championships begin tonight throughout Northern and Southern California. Seven county teams are playing for the chance to reach Thursday's semifinal round, then Saturday's Southern California finals. The winners there advance to the state finals March 21-22 at the Pond.

Here is a look at tonight's games:

Division I Boys--No surprises here. Look for Southern Section Division I-A champion Mater Dei and City Section 4-A champion Los Angeles Crenshaw to meet Saturday in the Southern California regional final. But it starts tonight for Mater Dei (30-2), which meets Fontana Miller (22-8) at Ocean View High.

"They've lost to some teams they should have beaten and they have beaten some teams that they probably shouldn't," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said of Miller. "They're pretty big. I only watched a little of their game with Poly."

Travis Reed leads Miller in scoring (28.2) and rebounding (13.2).

Division II Boys--Villa Park Coach Kevin Reynolds and Woodbridge Coach John Halagan agreed on one thing after Woodbridge came from behind to defeat the Spartans, 56-50, Saturday in the Southern Section Division II-AA final. Both immediately looked ahead to the Southern Regional final.

"I hope we can do this again Saturday," Halagan said.

Reynolds concurred. The Spartans (24-5) travel to San Diego Section champion Oceanside El Camino (29-2) for a 7:30 game tonight.

Led by guard Joe Eyres, El Camino likes to press, so that will put pressure on Villa Park guard Isaiah Cavaco. Eyres leads the team in scoring (19.5). Clint Sanders, a 6-3 forward, and 6-6 center Henry Lalane, who combined to average about 14 rebounds, will have to contend with Villa Park's 7-1 center Eric Chenowith, who averages nearly that on his own.

Woodbridge is hosting its first state playoff game and will play Bakersfield South (20-6), the Central Section runner-up, at 7:30 tonight.

Center Chris Burgess (23.5 points) and forward Brandon Beeson (14.7) lead the Warriors in scoring.

Division IV Boys--Calvary Chapel (25-5) opens at 8 tonight against La Jolla The Bishop's School (20-7) at Torrey Pines High. The Bishop's has three players whose scoring average is in double figures: forwards Rob Swenson (13 points) and David Burns (12.4) and guard Nick Booker (11.3).

Calvary Chapel is led by forward Joe Ortiz (18.2 points) and guard Kevin Falconer (43.2% from three-point range, 10 assists).

Division II Girls--Brea Olinda, ranked No. 1 in the state and seeded first in the Division II regionals, is coming off its ninth consecutive Southern Section title. The Ladycats (27-3) host Cerritos Gahr (19-9) at 7:30 tonight. Stephanie Wettlin, Brea's 5-11 center, has averaged 15 points the last three games, and probably draws the task of guarding 6-foot Monet Sykes, who averages 16.

Laguna Hills (27-3), seeded second in the regionals, hosts Lemoore, the Central Section runner-up, at 7:30 tonight. Jennifer Anderson, a sophomore guard, is averaging 16.9 points. No team has scored more than 50 points against Laguna Hills, in large part because of 6-6 center Tayyiba Haneef, who had seven blocks in the Hawks' 54-40 victory Saturday over Gahr.

Division V Girls--Capistrano Valley Christian (23-6) plays at San Diego Horizon (22-8), which has won 19 of its last 20 games, at 7:30 tonight. The Panthers have three players averaging in double digits, led by guard Katrina Vestal (18). Capistrano Valley Christian's Hayley Hall averages 13.8 points and Gini Joy Carney 10.2.

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