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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | WAR ON THE FLOOR NOTEBOOK

Notre Dame Provides Surprise With Impressive Summer Play

July 04, 1998|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — The surprise of the War on the Floor tournament this week at Chatsworth High was undoubtedly the performance of Notre Dame.

The Knights, who finished tied for fifth with St. Francis in the Mission League last season, advanced to the semifinals of the tournament, scoring an impressive victory over Simi Valley in the quarterfinals.

"We're excited about it," Notre Dame Coach Rob DiMuro said. "We've had a lot of these guys for three years and they've had the time to mature."

A big key has been the play of guard Dante Ward, one of the premier three-point shooters in the region.

He averaged more than 22 points in the final five games last season and that has spilled over to the summer. He had five three-pointers in a 59-48 victory over Harvard-Westlake in the third-place game.

But DiMuro is cautious about getting too excited. His team had a good summer last season, including a fourth-place finish in the War on the Floor tournament.

"I think we need to take it slow," DiMuro. "We feel like if we do things right we can have a great year."

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Simi Valley, which also lost to Chatsworth this week, surprised just as many as Notre Dame.

Considered by many to be a pre-tournament favorite, the Pioneers managed only a fifth-place finish.

"I don't think we would say we're pleased with our performance," Simi Valley Coach Dean Bradshaw said. "But at the same time, we're not losing any sleep over it."

Bradshaw said that injuries and scattered personnel were part of the problem for his team, which returns four starters from last year's Southern Section Division I semifinalist team.

Brett Michel, recovering from broken ribs, played his first full game of the tournament Friday after playing just 20 minutes a game the first two days.

Rafael Berumen, the Pioneers' leading scorer the last two years, did not play Friday because of other commitments, Bradshaw said.

"Our wheels are obviously not greased up to where they will be," Bradshaw said.

The Pioneer player who looked most impressive was Branduinn Fullove, who averaged more than 16 points a game in the tournament and gained about 15 pounds of muscle since he last took the court.

"He's filled out," Bradshaw said. "We're very pleased with his performance."

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Chatsworth may have gotten the raw deal of the tournament.

The Chancellors finished pool play with a 2-1 record, tied with Harvard-Westlake and Simi Valley.

They lost only to Harvard-Westlake, 53-37, an eventual semifinalist, in their first game of the tournament. But because of their plus-four point differential they finished third in their pool and went into the consolation bracket. Simi Valley had a plus-24 differential and Harvard-Westlake had a plus-17.

"That game against Harvard killed us," Chatsworth Coach Emad Whitney said. "But we figured we should just go on and play."

Chatsworth won five straight after its opening loss and cruised to a 52-41 victory over Crespi in the consolation championship, a title with less luster than the big one.

"It does take some shine off," Whitney said. "But not winning the consolation championship would be worse."

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Scam of the tournament went to Inglewood, which did not show for one of its pool-play games and had to reschedule its Wednesday night game from 5:25 p.m. to 10 p.m.

But the Sentinels managed to advance to the final.

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