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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Boys' Basketball Teams to Watch

November 27, 1998

THE PROVEN: The absence of an experienced point guard left Simi Valley vulnerable to defeat against top competition last season. It's up to sophomore Shaun Michel to correct that. If Michel can handle the expected full-court presses and get the ball to Rafael Berumen, Branduinn Fullove and brother, Brett Michel, the Pioneers will flourish. Chaminade is capable of defending its Division III-A title. Crucial to the Eagles' chances is developing outside shooters to go along with their inside strength. Sophomore Ryan Arceo, the leading scorer on the junior varsity, is the player to watch. Harvard-Westlake has a chance to challenge Chaminade for the Mission League title because it finally has a post player to team with Alex Holmes. Dan Kinzer, a 6-7 former water polo player, made major progress in summer play. If Russell Lakey keeps improving and Holmes and Kinzer deliver, look out. Sylmar is clearly the best local City Section team. The Spartans won the 3-A title and their starting five returns. Whether they can compete against 4-A teams will be determined by how 6-8 Joey Youman plays in the post.

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THE PROMISING: Santa Clara is the only team in the region with two players signed by colleges, guards B.J. Ward and Nick Jones, both headed to UC Santa Barbara. The Saints will be trying to win their 15th section title for Coach Lou Cvijanovich, who is in his 41st season. They're favored in Division V-AA. Valencia returns 6-6 Eskias McDaniels, 6-4 Manuel White, point guard Royce Minor and guard Mark Sison, who made 127 consecutive free throws. James Morris and Adam Levitt, first-year coaches at Cleveland, have a team with quickness. Guards Kent Dennis and Kenny Mason and forwards Brian Smith and Larry Knox figure to lead the Cavaliers to the West Valley League title. Alemany could be the region's most intriguing team. The Indians were 0-12 in Mission play last season, but the hiring of Coach Darryl McDonald resulted in four transfers coming to the Mission Hills campus. Three are from San Fernando--All-City guard Devin Montgomery, forward Reggie Kinlaw and guard Bryson Atkins. Guard Byron Joseph checked in from Village Christian. Grant has the region's No. 1 player, guard Gilbert Arenas. He'll bring out fans by himself. But the Lancers could surprise people if 6-5 Krishna Evans and guard Daniel Tarr provide support for Arenas.

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TOUGHEST LEAGUE: Mission. It's easier winning the lottery than predicting the one through seven finishers in this league. Chaminade is favored, but Harvard-Westlake, Crespi, Notre Dame, Alemany, St. Francis and Loyola all have title aspirations.

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