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Previews | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Chaminade and Buena Size Up Favorites' Roles

November 27, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER

When you're 6 feet 9 and wear size 15 shoes, that's pretty big. So how come sophomore Scott Borchart feels small standing next to senior teammate J.J. Todd?

Todd is 6-11 with size 20 shoes in which a baby could sleep.

"If they got any bigger, it would be crazy," Todd said of his feet.

If size does matter, Chaminade High is the team to beat in boys' basketball with its version of the twin towers.

"I don't think many teams are going to be able to guard both of us," Todd said.

In girls' basketball, Buena offers opponents a similar predicament with a lineup that includes 6-3 sophomore Kelly Greathouse and 6-2 freshman Courtney LaVere.

"We've never had two players [of their size] at one time," Coach Joe Vaughan said. "Both have good offensive moves for their age."

Greathouse averaged 13.3 points and 10.1 rebounds as a freshman. LaVere enters high school with a strong reputation from playing on club teams. It's doubtful any team in the region will be able to counter the Bulldogs' size.

College scouts are paying close attention to Borchart, 15, the region's top freshman last season when he averaged 13.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in helping Chaminade win the Southern Section Division III-A championship.

Two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, Borchart is on target to become an elite college prospect, with the likes of UCLA, Arizona and Stanford expected to pursue him in two years.

The only question about Borchart is his health. He had knee surgery during the summer for torn cartilage, then had a cyst removed from the same knee in the fall. He was so eager to return that he was shooting baskets while on crutches.

Todd rarely played last season, but improved greatly during the summer and UC Santa Barbara signed him this month.

"I played at least 50 games this summer," Todd said. "I'm doing things now I've never been able to do. I catch the ball and instead of hesitating, I make a strong move right away. I'm not afraid to shoot it."

Rarely has the region boasted as many quality boys' players with size as this season. There is no dominant big man in the mold of Jason Collins, who went from Harvard-Westlake to Stanford, but 6-9 Rafael Berumen of Simi Valley, 6-8 Chris Williams of Notre Dame, 6-8 Tony Mayes of Littlerock and 6-9 Eric Rohwer of Burbank are capable shot blockers and rebounders.

Another strong position is shooting guard, where the region's No. 1 player, Gilbert Arenas of Grant, is ready to improve his 29.8 scoring average from last season.

At 6-4 and possessing quickness, explosiveness and exceptional instincts, Arenas can take over a game and excite spectators with spectacular moves. He's only 16 and has signed with Arizona. He fears no one and looks forward to testing himself against top opponents.

Coach Howard Levine of Grant is moving Arenas from point guard to a wing, which should allow him to create more scoring and passing opportunities.

There are plenty of shooting guards prepared to challenge Arenas for scoring honors. Russell Lakey of Harvard-Westlake averaged 22.4 points as a sophomore and Kent Dennis of Cleveland averaged 20.4 points as a junior.

Devin Montgomery of Alemany transferred from San Fernando and could help the Indians go from winless in Mission League play to one of the league's top three teams.

Branduinn Fullove of Simi Valley is a three-point threat who can shut down players with his relentless defense.

At point guard, if you want to see fierce competition, check out the Frontier League, where B.J. Ward of Santa Clara will take on Michael Goldman of Calabasas.

Ward is coming off a season in which he averaged 19.3 points and has signed with Santa Barbara.

Goldman is the new kid who earned impressive reviews last summer. Academically ineligible for much of his junior season, Goldman will team with senior Spencer Hariton to form one of the region's best backcourts.

Cayce Cook of Chaminade figures to become more offensive minded, but his ball handling and court leadership give the Eagles a valuable weapon as they defend their Mission League title.

T.K. Reed of Sylmar has been toughened by a season of football.

Cody Pearson of Notre Dame, only a sophomore, has the physical makeup to become a big-time college prospect.

In girls' basketball, there is not a faster, more exciting player than Jaline Bradley of Channel Islands.

"She's just as quick as Marion Jones on the floor," Coach Patrick Bell of Channel Islands said, referring to the former Thousand Oaks star.

Bradley was restricted to the junior varsity last season after transferring from Oxnard, where she averaged 18.4 points as a sophomore while leading the Yellowjackets to the Division I-AA championship. She has signed with UCLA.

Damaris Hinojosa of Moorpark will receive a new challenge in facing much stronger Marmonte League competition. Bound for Pepperdine, the 5-10 Hinojosa was the Times' Ventura County player of the year last season. She averaged 23 points.

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