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BETWEEN THE LINES | HIGH SCHOOLS

Mastrocinque Missed Chance at Birmingham

January 10, 1998

Two seasons ago, sophomore goalkeeper Peter Mastrocinque backstopped Birmingham High to the Northwest Valley Conference boys' soccer championship. As a senior, he's not even on the team.

Mastrocinque spent his freshman and junior years in Italy, playing for amateur teams run by some of the country's professional clubs. With his 18th birthday and a mandatory stint in the Italian army looming, Mastrocinque returned to Birmingham in September, where he decided to play football for the first time.

As a reserve defensive end, Mastrocinque, 6 feet 2 and 170 pounds, was unavailable for the soccer team's early season workouts and decided not to play with the Braves.

"I'm graduating in February so I would have missed the playoffs," Mastrocinque said. "I didn't know many guys on the team anymore and I heard they weren't going to be that strong. I guess I was wrong."

Birmingham is undefeated heading into the season's final month and a half.

Mastrocinque will resume playing for a Huntington Beach under-19 club team in March and hopes to play at a U.S. college or in England later this year.

BASKETBALL

Triple play: The consolation championship of the Birmingham tournament was a coming-out party for Granada Hills senior Stacey Witherill.

In a 79-60 victory over L.A. CES, Witherill had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots for his first triple double.

"We had the game won in the fourth quarter but we wanted him to get the triple double," said Highlander Coach Lou Cicciari. "Normally, he wouldn't have played so much."

Numbers don't add up: A quick glance at the regional stat leaders might indicate that Bell-Jeff has the best boys' team around.

But despite having players leading the region in points (Ruben Douglas), rebounds (Mike West) and assists (Chris Jones), the Guards were 7-8 heading into Friday night's game against Salesian.

"Other coaches are going to look at that and say 'Yeah, right,' " Coach Eli Essa said. "But Ruben doesn't have to share points with anyone. Mike doesn't have to share rebounds. They're all we have."

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