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High School Team Preview:
West Hills Chaminade Prep--(Oct. 8, 1998)

"I think our Division is even more competitive than it was last year. And in our league, everyone is looking to knock us off. It's a good feeling." Jeff Young

Chaminade is this year's defending Southern Section Division III Champions. At the end of last year's season, after Chaminade with it's best team ever lost to University of San Diego High in the Southern Regional semifinals, two games away from the State Championship game, there were more than a few rumors that Jeff Young would leave to coach at the college level.  Jeff had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to eventually leave the high school ranks, and it was widely rumored that he was in line for a job in San Diego,  or at several other D-I programs as an assistant.  But ultimately, Jeff decided to give Chaminade a 5th year, and he believes that this year will be at least as much fun as last year. "We've got some great players, a terrific group of guys, and I wanted to stay for at least one more year to coach these guys. In our Division, with USDHS reloading again, Bishop Montgomery with Errick & Derrick Craven, and Fresno Washington Union, anything can happen."

And if you want to get a taste of what could possibly happen in CIF Division III in the Southern Regional semis or the finals,   you won't want to miss Chaminade's matchup with Fresno Washington Union at the Adidas/Double Pump MLK Hoops Festival on January 16, 1999 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.   Now that will be a game.

Jeff's vital statistics have been reported here earlier, but we'll repeat them.  Jeff played high school basketball at Burbank Lutheran High, a very small, Division V program. He attended Valparaiso  where he walked on to the team, and then he attended Cal Lutheran, where he also coached following graduation.  He had a chance to go to Australia with Mike Dunlap (who is now at Metro State) to coach in the pros, but changed his mind and decided to stay.  He was basically out of a job when he got the call to come over and coach Chaminade.  He's starting his  5th year as head coach, and last year was the best finish in Chaminade's history:  The Eagles took Mission League, going undefeated, and went as deep as they've ever gone in the playoffs.  Jeff  is a teacher as well as a coach (geometry). He remains close with his mentors from Cal Lutheran, coach Dunlap and Simi coach Dean Bradshaw.

This year's team is without the services of several players lost to graduation: Scott Long (6'-5" SG/SF) who is now playing at Navy,  Justin Beach (6'-6" SG/SF), and Justin Stewart (6'-2" PF), all of whom were starters and consistent contributors on last year's team.  Also lost to graduation were several role players who saw limited action on a team that last year often didn't have enough chairs for all the coaches and players (there were 16 players and about 5 or 6 assistant coaches): Ray Rodriguez (6'-0" SG)  Ryan Cichon (6'-2" SG),  Jeff Stine (6'-3" SG),  Mike Kokorowski (6'-3" SF) and   Matt Chirba (6'-5" G/F).  The team was also hit with a transfer, and Josh Levy (6'-4" Sr. SG) has transferred to Campbell Hall.   This year, Coach Young will limit the roster to 13 or 14.

So who's returning? Here are the returning varsity players:

Cayce Cook (5'-9" Sr. PG)
Robby Tanouye (5'-10" Sr. PG)
Nick Lawson (5'-10" Sr. PG)
Chris Canoles (6'-2" Sr. SG)
Clarence Mitchell (6'-5" Jr. SG/SF)
Scott Borchart (6'-9" So.  C) 
J.J. Todd (6'-10" Sr. C)

Not a bad nucleus to start with.  Here are the new guys:

Darren Tarlow (6'-3" Sr. SF)
Ryan Arceo (6'-0" So. SG)
Erik Johnson (6'-0" So. SG)
Jim Lefebvre (6'-4" Jr. SF/PF)
Jeff Dye (6'-4" Jr. SF/PF)
Art D'Egidio (6'-1" Jr. SG/SF)
Mike Santogrossi (6'-0"  Sr. SG/SF)

The backcourt will feature Cayce at the point, backed up and sometimes in tandem with Robby, and both of these guys are very quick, with excellent handles.  Cayce is going to be taking official recruiting visits with Idaho State, Portland State and Air Force in the next month.  He's a little speedster,   with a great handle, who can penetrate, score and has a pretty good j.    He's developed better court vision  and a feel for how far he can penetrate before getting closed out, and this year he'll have the twin towers to dish to off the drive as both J.J. and Scott will be tandeming at the post and both have developed into excellent players.  But before we get off the subject of point guards, we also should mention that Robby is very fast, and is also another "pass first" type of guard,  and he's got good lateral quickness, nice court vision, and can also defend.

The shooting guard spots will probably fall to Lawson and Canoles  most often, and they are both capable shooters, with decent enough handles, fine athletes who can hit the j out to three point range and also drive when needed. Lawson and Canoles both saw a fair amount of playing time last season and got off the crowded bench with some regularity, and this year they'll be called upon to really step it up with increased pt.  Johnson, Arceo, D'Egidio, and Santogrossi will step in to relieve at times, but we don't see this team as really being a three guard offensive set very often, and like last year, it will probably take a couple of games to let the dust settle to see who gets the starting nod at the 2 spot, and who will be the relievers.   Anyone of these guys though could be a situational player, and take over at times.

At the small forward/power forward spot (again excluding Borchart, who is anything but "small"), look for Clarence Mitchell, who's grown two inches and worked hard this summer.  Darren Tarlow, Jeff Dye and Jim Lefebvre are all up from the jv, and we've only really seen Tarlow's game on any consistent basis, and he's a very hard-working, active player on the floor, who's developed some real good defensive skills, hustles like crazy, grabs the loose balls, defends, and is an excellent rebounder. He's also developed a nice perimeter shot, and is more of a slashing type of wing player.  Dye has developed some nice post moves from his days playing center on the jv's and he'll have to work a bit on his wing skills this year, and Lefebvre is a solid player, with good athletic skills.

In the post, you'll see J.J. and Scott, often together, and this will be one tall team.   J.J. is the region's best kept 6'-10" secret, and we've already written a lot about him.  Great heart, great work-ethic, developed his skills and enthusiasm greatly over the summer, and he's got really big feet.  J.J. is looking at a ton of D-I schools, and originally had something like 9 or 10 on his list, and hopefully he's narrowed it some, but most of these schools are solid D-I programs, and J.J. will be a big-time player in college. Incredibly, he saw only a few minutes the entire season last year, but then he wasn't complaining.  However, when we caught up with him at the Pump West Coast All-Star camp, where he was named to the "All-Hustle Team" along with Tarlow, he told us "This is my year."   We believe it, and he's going to open a lot of eyes in Mission League and in Southern Section.  He'll be sharing the forward/post duties with Scott Borchart, who has ignored most of the transfer rumors this past year and will definitely stay at Chaminade.   Scott is one of the best and most fundamentally sound big men in SoCal, and he's grown another two inches this summer. He did not play during the summer at the camps due to a knee injury, but he's fully recovered and will be at full strength this season.   Scott has very good footwork, plays very well with his back to the basket, and has the most developed game of anyone we've seen in his class.  He's got a very well developed upper body:  This is not some stick figure tall guy, but a strong, big-bodied guy who can run the floor, jump, and shows great agility and a nice touch.   His shot blocking ability is unquestioned, and there will be few other big men who can effectively guard him.  Well, maybe Kam Walton, but that's getting a bit ahead of the picture.

This is a deep team, and they're going to go far this year.  Coach Young is not worried, but he knows that everyone in Mission League will be gunning for Chaminade, and the same will be true in Southern Section.   "Harvard, Notre Dame, St. Francis, Loyola, Crespi, all of our traditional rivals will be trying to knock us off.  And in Southern Section Bishop Montgomery is still there, and I hear San Diego has really reloaded again, so I think we're going to have our hands full this season. But it's going to be great fun,"   said Young.

Chaminade will play in several tournaments during December, but will not be going to Hawaii or Vegas this year.  They'll be holding their own tournament from December 26-30 (guess we'll have to shuttle between the Valley and the Best in the West in Long Beach again). Chaminade's tournament will be a 16 team affair (up from 8 last year), and will feature Grant and Gilbert Arenas, San Francisco perennial power Riordan, Bellflower, South Torrance, Campbell Hall, Lancaster, Quartz Hill, Kennedy (LA), Van Nuys, Monroe, El Camino, Moorpark, Canyon (Canyon Country), Granada Hills, and one (sheesh, we just can't read our own writing sometimes).

In the first week in December, Chaminade will travel down to San Diego's West Hills High for a round-robin tournament in which they'll meet Rancho Bernardo, Crawford, Scripps Ranch and host West Hills in pool play.  No word on who else is coming to that one.

And from the 14th through 19th of December, they'll be at the Valencia High Tournament, which will feature Alemany, Little Rock, Santa Paula, Burbank, Hollywood, Valencia, San Fernando, Compton Centennial, Rialto Eisenhower, Royal, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Ventura, Chatsworth, Antelope Valley, and host Valencia.   And this one could be interesting for several reasons including the possibility of seeing Alemany and San Fernando playing each other.

Finally, look for Chaminade and Fresno Washington Union (DeShawn Stevenson, Shamell Stallworth, Willie Johnson, and more) to give Chaminade a great mid-season battle at Cal State Dominguez Hills over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

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