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High School Basketball / Playoffs

Collinses Get to Mix It Up : Harvard-Westlake Faces Another Challenge From University

March 15, 1997|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — Once again, the Collinses meet the Waltons.

Harvard-Westlake High (34-1), in the final days of the impressive prep careers of Stanford-bound twins Jason and Jarron Collins, will play San Diego University (25-4) in a Southern California Regional Division III final tonight at Cal State Fullerton.

With a victory, Harvard-Westlake, ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and fifth nationally by USA Today, will play for a second consecutive state championship next Saturday at the Pond in Anaheim.

In a rematch of last season's regional final in which Harvard-Westlake escaped with a 58-47 overtime victory at the Pond, the Wolverines again must contend with sons of NBA Hall of Fame center Bill Walton.

Luke Walton, a 6-foot-8 junior forward who fouled out of last season's final, averages 15 points and nine rebounds.

Nate Walton, whose shot at the regulation buzzer a year ago rolled off the rim, has moved on to Princeton. But the Dons have added 6-5 freshman forward Charles Walton and 6-7 freshman forward Kam Walton. Charles is Luke's brother, Kam a cousin of the Walton brothers.

Ron McMillan, a 6-7 forward, averages 16.5 points for University. Junior point guard David Abramowitz and senior guard Matt Clark are returning starters.

"We're a very well-balanced team," University Coach Jim Tomey said. "Not too much has changed."

Harvard-Westlake has four starters from last year's team. If current trends continue, tonight's game figures to be close.

Harvard-Westlake and University have split four summer-league games the past two years--all in overtime.

"It's always been close," Harvard-Westlake Coach Greg Hilliard said. "I'm hoping it's not so close this time."

Hilliard also is hopeful his team will increase its intensity. The Wolverines appeared sluggish in the first half of two home victories this week.

"Two games in a row our guys have come out real soft and real blase," Hilliard said. "We're just kind of guessing and feeling our way in the dark as to the reason.

"The guys don't appear to be taking anyone lightly. Perhaps it's the end of a 35-game season and having won so many games by large margins."

Jarron Collins, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds in last season's final, expressed confidence.

"We've just gotta come out sharper," Collins said.

University, San Diego Section champion, defeated Harvard-Westlake in triple-overtime last summer. However, the Wolverines have been without at least one of the Collinses in every summer meeting with the Dons.

"They're a terrific team with a lot of balance," Tomey said. "The twins don't have to do as much work as they did last year."

Both teams participated but did not meet in the Reebok Holiday Classic in Las Vegas during December. The Wolverines were dealt their only loss by Mt. Zion Academy of Durham, N.C. University lost twice to teams from Colorado and Louisiana.

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