A smorgasbord of notes, quotes and opinions from across the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding communities:
While students and supporters of Alemany High celebrate the success of their girls' basketball team, there's nothing but bad news to report on the prospect of replacing the school's old gymnasium that was destroyed four years ago in the Northridge earthquake.
"I have no idea whatsoever," was the response of Brother Hilarion O'Connor, director of construction for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, on the question of when Alemany's new gym will be built.
At least that's a more accurate comment than the one provided by Father Gregory Coiro, the archdiocese media spokesman. According to Coiro, the gym "is scheduled to be completed in September of 1999."
People at Alemany laughed when told of Coiro's comment. The fact is the archdiocese has no intention of providing funding for a $3.5 million gym, as Alemany has proposed.
"I presume they'll have to fund-raise," O'Connor said.
Alemany Principal Father Robert Milbauer said the school has been promised $4 million for earthquake repairs from the archdiocese, but none of that money is going toward a new gym.
The school has relocated from its previous Mission Hills campus site to the old Queen of Angels seminary next to the San Fernando Mission. It's costing $2.5 million to turn old dormitories into classrooms. The school spent $400,000 for lockers and $200,000 for a road that leads from the old campus to the new one.
The new Alemany is one of the most picturesque campuses in the Valley. But there's no gym other than a portable one the boys' and girls' teams avoid using for games and practices.
A previous inflatable dome gym put up as an emergency replacement was so bad the roof blew away in a wind storm.
"When you went into the door, it sucked you in or sucked you out," joked one former gym visitor.
The boys' team has been severely affected by the absence of a gym. It finished 0-12 in the Mission League and 6-18 overall this past season. Why would any boys' basketball player want to attend a school without a gym? The girls' program has stayed competitive only because Coach Melissa Hearlihy's reputation for excellence continues to attract quality players.
Milbauer is retiring as principal in June. He wants a gym. He has the preliminary plans for a gym. But the archdiocese, facing a $102 million project to build a new cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, isn't likely to fork over $3.5 million for a gym.
"It's definite a gym is going to be here, but when I don't know," Milbauer said.
Hart High, a public school in Newhall, opened its new $4 million gym in December of 1996, almost three years after its gym was destroyed by the earthquake.
Former Hart principal Laurence Strauss said building the gym was a priority.
"It serves in some respects as the hub of a school," he said. "It's not just a school facility, it's a community facility."
Here's my guess when the Alemany gym will be built: When parents and alumni decide to raise $3.5 million, sometime in the next century. . . .
Taft's football team has picked up its second top transfer this month. Brandon Hance, the starting quarterback for Notre Dame's sophomore team last fall, enrolled at the Woodland Hills campus on Monday. Hance was supposed to challenge for Notre Dame's varsity starting job in September. He'll compete against Taft All-City quarterback Steve Alvarado.
Earlier this month, defensive lineman Carl Cannon transferred from Cleveland to Taft. Notre Dame lost another promising sophomore, offensive lineman Eugene Kim, who transferred to Alemany. . . .
Everyone knows about J.T. Stotts, the basketball player. But is Stotts the baseball player the best-kept secret in the region? Hart Coach Bud Murray thinks so. Murray has coached for 38 years, and he's raving about his senior shortstop.
"Of all the years I've coached high school kids, he's got the best [fielding] range of all," Murray said. "He's so untapped in baseball. He's spent his whole life playing basketball. Someone's going to get a real gem." . . .
Beware of 14-year-old freshman catcher Michael Nickeas of Westlake. He hit a home run against North Hollywood, something former Warrior star Mike Lieberthal never did as a freshman.
"He's very talented," Westlake Coach Chuck Berrington said. . . .
The Australians have arrived. A group of basketball players from Australia, aged 11-17, will be playing all-stars from the American Roundball Corporation today at North Hollywood High. Question: Will any return as foreign-exchange students to a Marmonte League school? . . .
Best junior varsity basketball players this season: 1. Aaron Bobik, Newbury Park freshman; 2. Gregg Guenther, Crespi sophomore; 3. Adam Drell, Chatsworth sophomore. . . .
Best non-senior boys' basketball players: 1. Gilbert Arenas, Grant junior; 2. Rafael Berumen, Simi Valley junior; 3. Scott Borchart, Chaminade freshman; 4. Russell Lakey, Harvard-Westlake sophomore; 5. Branduinn Fullove, Simi Valley sophomore; 6. Devin Montgomery, San Fernando junior; 7. Brett Michel, Simi Valley sophomore. . . .
Best non-senior girls' basketball players: 1. Damaris Hinojosa, Moorpark junior; 2. Kate Beckler, Alemany sophomore; 3. Kelly Greathouse, Buena freshman; 4. Omelogo Udeze, Harvard-Westlake junior; 5. Sinnamonn Garrett, Crescenta Valley sophomore. . . .
Top five boys' basketball teams for next season: 1. Simi Valley, 2. Chaminade, 3. Cleveland, 4. Sylmar, 5. Harvard-Westlake. . . .
Top five girls' basketball teams for next season: 1. Harvard-Westlake, 2. Alemany, 3. Buena, 4. North Hollywood, 5. Ventura.
Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422.