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BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Empire League

November 24, 1998

Century: 20-7, 6-4 in 1997-98. Coach: Greg Coombs (ninth season, 133-68). After a great start, the Centurions stumbled in league play last season, finishing third. How opposing defenses stop 6-9 senior center Mike Zepeda, who averaged 14.4 points and 10.7 rebounds, is a key. "We must hit open shots when he is doubled-teamed," Coombs said. Returning are 5-10 senior guards Paul Ferretti and Robert Ramirez. Sophomore guard Chris Ferretti and junior forwards Joe Mijares and Joel Valdez expect to see plenty of action, although none is over 6 feet 2. "We are a strong team defensively with Zepeda being a force in the middle," Coombs said.

Cypress: 7-20, 2-8 in 1997-98. Coach: Jeff Russell (first year). Russell coached the final four games last season when Frank Califano abruptly quit. He is the third coach in three seasons for the Centurions. "Players are working very hard and are very responsive," he said. Starters returning are 6-foot forward Alphonso Stovall and 6-7 center Billy Curry (eight rebounds), both seniors. Senior guard Adam Marques and junior forward Devin Patrick are expected to start, while four guards--sophomore Jon Uyloan, junior Justin Yun and seniors Devon Reid and Geoff Seibel--should all see playing time. "Our team could be the dark horse. The league is down, so Cypress could end up second or third," Russell said.

El Dorado: 15-10, 4-6 in 1997-98. Coach: Tim Tivenan (sixth year, 73-57). Tivenan also believes his team is a dark horse in the league race, and needs to play tough defense to succeed. "We have a lot of experience. This is one of the best offensive teams I've had here," he said. Ryan Carlos, a 6-2 shooting guard who averaged 14 points, is one of three senior starters back. He's joined by 6-4 forward Joel Cuthbert and 6-3 forward Richard Nagy. Six more seniors are vying for starting roles, including 6-4 center Shaun Kalpakoff.

Katella: 23-5, 7-3 in 1997-98. Coach: Tom Danley (597-235). Danley should earn his 600th victory in quick fashion because the Knights, led by 6-3 senior shooting guard Robert Abercrombie (18.6 points), are expected to be one of the county's best teams. Dan Carey (10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds), a 6-7 center, Brandon Jordan (9.8 points), a 6-4 forward, and Matt Tisthammer (9.2 points), a 6-2 guard, are other starters back. Also returning is 6-5 forward Casey Cariker and 5-11 guard Jimmy Troge. Two guards, Ben Jivcu and Phil Tyson, are up from the junior varsity.

Kennedy: 13-13, 4-6 in 1997-98. Coach: Pat O'Hern (third year, 26-26). Like most of the coaches in the league, O'Hern sees Katella as the team to beat. "But we should be real competitive. We have good quickness and depth," he said. Tony Jimmerson, a 6-4 senior forward who averaged 10 points and six rebounds, is the only starter back. Three others returning are 6-3 senior forward Matt Perreault, 5-9 junior guard Jason Grier and 5-8 junior guard Ryan Meyer. Top newcomers are 6-1 guard Nick Atkins, 6-4 forward Derek Cunningham and 6-3 swingman Robert Reese.

Loara: 20-7, 7-3 in 1997-98. Coach: Ed Prange (ninth year, 87-117). Last season the Saxons set a school record for victories, but in summer leagues the Saxons struggled against taller teams. Starters Herb Gracia, a 5-10 guard who averaged 13.5 points, and Johnny Patton, a 6-4 forward who averaged 5.8 points, return. Ben (a senior) and Wes (a sophomore) Wardrop, both 6-2, are good defenders, Prange said. Trevor Holton, a 6-4 senior, and Sean Moses, a 5-10 senior, are battling for a starting spot. Also back is 5-9 guard De'vell Devoual.

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