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BETWEEN THE LINES / News, notes and quotes from around
the Valley and Ventura County

Leonard Just Wants a Shot for Palmdale

January 04, 1998

Matt Leonard joined Palmdale High's basketball team to keep in shape and increase his agility, a great idea if he ever actually showed up for a game.

"Everyone asks me if I've quit the team," said Leonard, who has missed 11 of the Falcons' 12 games because of football recruiting trips.

Leonard, named this week to the USA Today All-American team as a defensive lineman, has visited Arizona, Stanford, UCLA and Colorado since Palmdale was eliminated from the Southern Section Division II football playoffs.

Leonard's brother, Malosi, also played on the basketball team when he was a senior. The older Leonard, now on a football scholarship to Arizona, was 0 for 11 from the free-throw line during his one-year career.

"My plan is to get fouled, go to the line and make a free throw, then I'm done," Matt Leonard said.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Career days: Nakeisha Perkins, who has averaged 13.8 points and 14.3 rebounds for Grant High, became the school's career scoring leader during a victory over Eagle Rock last week in the San Fernando girls' basketball tournament.

Perkins, a 5-foot-11 senior center, has 708 points in three years. Kristin Kiley-Boynton scored 633 points from 1993-95.

"It kind of happened before I even realized it," Perkins said.

Perkins set Grant's career rebounding record last season and has pushed the mark to 821.

SOCCER

New image: Chatsworth High has won seven City Section girls' titles in nine seasons but has long been dismissed by critics for steam-rolling inferior opponents.

This season, the Chancellors (11-1-1) played Chaminade, regarded as the area's best team, to a scoreless tie.

Chatsworth finished third at the Simi Valley tournament after winning the tournament in 1996 and on Tuesday won the Hart tournament.

"When we come to these tournaments we try to change people's opinion of us," junior Erica Frechman said. "We try to play as hard as possible so we can get a good reputation, not just one that has it easy [in the City Section]."

FOOTBALL

Late bloomer: Kjell Nesen of St. Francis High, who transferred from Westlake and led the Golden Knights to the Southern Section Division III playoffs in his only season as a varsity quarterback, has suddenly become a hot college prospect.

Despite passing for only 901 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions in St. Francis' ground-based offense, Nesen's athleticism and scrambling ability earned him recruiting trips to Washington State, Texas Christian, New Mexico and Idaho. He declined to visit Fresno State or Iowa State but is waiting to hear if Nebraska will call back to offer a trip.

"Coaches are coming out of the woodwork to watch film on him," St. Francis Coach Bill Redell said. "One coach said Kjell reminds him of a young Mark Brunell or Steve Young."

Add St. Francis Nesen's teammate, tailback Darius Brown, recently returned from visiting Iowa and said the Hawkeyes, who have offered him a scholarship, are his top choice.

He plans to visit Colorado State and Idaho.

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