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BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Century League

November 24, 1998

Canyon: 19-9, 5-5 in 1997-98. Coach: Rob Alexander (third year, 31-24). Three returning starters and Esperanza transfer Ryan Romberg, a 6-foot-8 senior who averaged eight points and eight rebounds, give the Comanches a strong starting point. Senior point guard Donn Yu, who averaged four assists, returns, as do 6-3 senior guard Neil Hammad, who averaged 16 points and 4.4 rebounds last year, and 6-1 junior guard Roger Hogan, who averaged 10 points. Also back are 6-6 senior post Omid Efteklari, 6-2 senior swingman Brian Solomon and 6-5 senior forward Aaron Willis. Jeff Minhas, a 6-6 senior transfer from Richmond, Va., and Jamal Taylor,a 6-1 junior guard from the junior varsity team, are vying for playing time.

El Modena: 12-14, 6-6 in 1997-98. Coach: Roger MacLachlin (first year). MacLachlin has experience rebuilding programs at La Verne Bonita and Baldwin Park. "The toughest thing right now is to teach the kids a new way of learning and a different way to practice," he said. There's a good nucleus with four starters back: 5-8 point guard Joe Cortez, 6-6 forward Brock Kyler, 6-7 center Daniel Melton and 6-foot forward Stefan Perovish. The Vanguards have nonleague games against Brea Olinda, Newport Harbor and Loara.

Foothill: 10-16, 5-5 in 1997-98. Coach: Bob Thate (sixth year, 48-83). "This team will be the tallest in six years," Thate said. Three starters return: 6-1 senior point guard Drew Buford, 6-4 junior wing Alex Rasmussen and 6-3 junior wing Zach Smith. All were honorable mention all-league a year ago. Two players up from the junior varsity could have a big impact. They are 6-8 center Jason Zippel and 6-6 forward John Weir. Four swingmen return: 6-3 Chad Bigler, 6-4 Ryan Evans, 6-2 Jack Robbins and 6-2 Joe Henderson.

Orange: 4-21, 1-9 in 1997-98. Coach: Johnny Johnson (second year, 4-21). The Panthers plan to apply pressure defense. "We're very athletic, quick . . . not big up front," Johnson said. He expects 6-3 junior guard Scott Miller, one of three returning starters, to be among the county scoring leaders. Mike Garcia, a 6-3 forward, and Kyle Richards, a 5-10 guard, return, as do Lee Lillard, a 6-3 forward, Myron Keyes, a 5-9 guard, and Chris Monroy, a 6-1 guard. Tion Demyers, a 6-foot point guard who was the sixth man at Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon, averaged nine points. Blake Dodge, a 6-2 forward, Ben McDonald, a 6-3 transfer from University, and Fred Yousuf, a 6-1 transfer from New York City, will battle for playing time.

Santa Ana Valley: 8-17, 4-6 in 1997-98. Coach: Kevin Stipp (fourth year, 44-43). Hardy Fatu, a 5-11 starting guard for Century, has transferred and will play alongside his brother, Eliu, a 6-3 forward. Eliu averaged 9.7 rebounds. Jimmy Lopez, a 5-9 point guard, is another starter returning. "Other than that, I have a lot of junior varsity kids who are more or less equal," Stipp said.

Villa Park: 20-8, 9-1 in 1997-98. Coach: Kevin Reynolds (fourth year, 70-15). After a good summer season, will it be a fourth consecutive league title? "Villa Park should be the favorite until someone else beats us," Reynolds said. Alex Will, a 5-11 senior guard who led the county in three-point shooting at 55%, returns, as does 6-3 senior power forward Adam Keith. Kyle Egkan, a 6-8 sophomore transfer from Servite is a projected starter, as is 6-3 sophomore Matt MacGinnis. Part-time starter Andy Olsen, a 6-2 senior wing, also returns. Fighting for roles are 5-10 sophomore Bryan Arguello, 6-foot senior Justin Haney, 6-8 senior Dan Horan and 6-1 senior Kevin Seuss.

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