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High School Team Preview:
Ocean View High School--(Oct. 16, 1998)

"We've had a consistently good program. That's because we have consistently good players and good students."--Jim Harris

Jim Harris is the coach at Ocean View High School, which plays in the Golden West League in Orange County Southern Section. Jim has been and is Ocean View's first and only basketball coach. He's been around so long that Gary McKnight, the head coach at Mater Dei, was an assistant for him, and McKnight's been at it a long time now, 17 years in all. Jim is going into his 21st year at the school, and he's got more than 326 wins in his career, not quite the 475 wins that McKnight has compiled, but still impressive. Harris' Ocean View team is coming off its best season ever in 1997-98, having won a Southern Section Division III-AA title, and the team also made it to the Semi-Finals of the Southern Regional Playoffs of the State Championship Tournament.

For Harris, coaching isn't just a job, it's his life and his whole family is involved in coaching. His daughter Kim Harris is the coach at   Brethren Christian. In fact last season, the day he coached Ocean View to the III-AA title over Barstow, his daughter had coached the Brethren girls to a Division IV-A final earlier in the day.  Later that evening, Kim arrived at The Pond in the second half of her dad's game, and sat in the front row across the court from the Ocean View bench. The Southern Section arranged to have her present her father with the coach's championship plaque. "A few minutes into our game," Jim said, "I heard that Kim won a championship. That had to be the biggest thrill." And he also shared the moment with son,  Jimmy Harris,  who is an Ocean View assistant coach.

Last year's team was a steam-roller, flattening some schools: They beat Tustin 54-19, the lowest point output for a Tustin team ever; then they hammered Santa Ana 68-23.  And after crushing their opponents, Ocean View rolled through the Southern Section playoffs, winning the Division III-AA title, by defeating a tough team from Barstow 59-47.  But it was in the semi-finals of the State Tournament, in the Southern Regionals, that the wheels came off against Washington Union, as they lost  66-44.  Ocean View had gone into the game seeded fourth overall in the Division III tournament, but they were just blind-sided by the depth of talent at Washington Union. "I couldn't believe the shots they were taking," Ocean View coach Jim Harris told us today on the phone as he reminisced about the season-ending game in which DeShawn Stevenson, Shammel Stallworth and Coupe Taylor lit it up, as did Chris Jeffries in the last high school game of his career. Even though Jeffries, who is at Arkansas this season as fresheman,  was having a tremendous game, with about three minutes left, he broke his foot.  but Harris told us,  "They were just so incredibly physical and athletic. They were making shot after shot, falling while they were out of bounds, getting fouled, falling down, or being guarded. It was like they couldn't miss. It was just amazing to watch."

This year, Harris hopes not to be just watching again when it comes time for the finals.  Admittedly, he's got a young team, but it's one that could go very deep in the playoffs, and will challenge traditionally strong league rivals like Rosary, Saddleback, Servite, Tustin and Westminster for the Golden West League title, Harris' 8th league title. Last year, the Seahawks appeared to be the best team at Ocean View since the mid-1980s, and in fact they turned out to be better. With Tony Dow (6'-1" Sr. G), and forwards David Hatch,  Matt Kiemle, and Jason Martini, and 6'-10" senior center Kevin Hanson, all of whom have graduated (Hanson is now at the University of San Diego) Ocean View was incredibly strong and finished with its best ever record, 26-5 overall, and 10-0 in league.  The year before the team was 20-7 and 9-2 in league.  This is a team which has been consistently strong throughout the decade in which they've won 8 league titles.   

But that was then, and this is now.

This year's Ocean View team doesn't have the dominant center of last year, and the forwards and guards are young too. But there are some promising guys. Here's the roster:

Tony Dow (6'-1" Sr. PG)
Casey Lawson (6'-3" Sr. SG)
Rashaw McAfee (6'-3" Sr. SF/PF)
Torin Beeler (6'-5" So. SG/SF)
Jason Silletto (6'-4" Sr. C)
Ryan Westbrook (6'-2" Jr. PG.SG)
Jeremiah Bell (6'-3" Jr. C)
Mike Antonon (6'-1" Sr. SG)
Wes Bacchus (5'-11" Sr. SG/PG)
Neal Smith (6'-6" So. C)
Joe Balice (5'-9" Sr. SF)
Matt Carpenter (6'-0" Sr. F)
Michael Cowinder (6'-6" Sr. C)
Jorge Guerrero (5'-10" Sr. SG/SF)
Dean Parra (5'-6" Sr. G)

This is not a very tall team by any stretch of the imagination.  And no, those position designations for some of these guys aren't typos. That's really a 6'-3" Center, or a 5'-9" small forward. Hey, we're not making this stuff up; these are the spots that Jim told us these guys, a few of whom we're unfamiliar with, will play. And since he's the guy who just coached a Southern Section Champion, we'd guess he's got a pretty good idea what he's doing.

This team starts with Tony Dow, a great shooter who was All-League, All-Southern Section 1st team, and the CIF Player of the Year in Division III-AA. He's an explosive player, with a complete game. Tony has a very fast first step, and can beat just about anyone off the dribble. He has a great handle and can move in traffic, drive, dish or pull up for the j. He's about the closest thing to Andre Miller that Ocean View has seen in 21 years, and he can finish like Andre too. Tony is a very strong inside-outside player, and he's such a good rebounder, that Jim will actually look for him to be one of the leaders on the boards.  Tony is being recruited by, among others Pepperdine, and we'd expect to see him in a few hours at Midnight Madness.   Backing up Tony at the point will be Ryan Westbrook the only other true point. Ryan plays a little shooting guard as well, and during the summer league, Jim switched things around a bit, moving Tony to the 2 and Ryan at the 1 for about half the summer just to see how things would work, and we'd expect either of them to handle either the one or the two this season. Ryan is a great jump shooter, with good penetration skills, and in fact he may be the best ball-handler on the team. The only limitation he has is that he's not as explosive as Tony, but give him another year and he'll be leading the team as the starting point.

At the two position, look for Casey Lawson to be the starter. He was an honorable mention All-League last year, and is a great defender, with a decent perimeter game. He's attracting some attention from Cal Poly Pomona and some other D-II's and NAIA schools. Backing up Casey at the two, we'd look to see Mike Antonon, a guy who's come up through the Ocean View program, and been the leading three point scorer on each of the Freshman, and JV teams.  He's the kind of guy who can just get on a streak and score 7 or 8 threes in a single game, and he'll have his moments this year too.   Dean Parra, at 5'-6" will be a situational role player, a sort of defensive seek-and-destroy player, who's also a surprisingly good shooter with great quickness.   We'd also look for Jorge Guerrero at the two/three spot for at least some playing time. Jorge is the kind of kid who does everything, rebounds, drives, defends. We'd also look for Wes Bacchus, a very quick off-guard who can run the floor, and spot up with a very nice shot from the corner.

At the three position, look for Torin Beeler to have a huge impact.  Jim described Torin as a "young colt" who is just kicking at the stall all the time. "He's so incredibly talented, so athletic and tough, and he just wants to be so good, he's a pleasure to coach," Jim told us.  Torn is also a pretty good student, with a 4.0 GPA, and in about two years he'll be a major D-I prospect.   He's about 6'-5" and has grown about an inch and half since the summer, where at the Double Pump West Coast All-Star Camp Second Session he not only made the Freshman-Sophomore All-Star team, he was the MVP of the game.  Torin is strong, but still slender, very quick, and can either pull up for the j off the dribble or beat his man to the hole.  He's an excellent player, and it's scary to think how good he'll be in two more years. Backing up Torin at the three will be Joe Balice, who is not as good a shooter, but who will come in at times to set picks, screens and make things happen.   We'd also expect to see Matt Carpenter, an excellent three-point shooter vie for some time in spelling Torin.

At the power forward spot, we'd look to Rashaw McAfee, a senior who could be the best outside shooter on the whole team. Rashaw could be the leading scorer on this team, and he was in summer league. Rashaw is quick, limber and agile, and he's got long, spider like arms which make him seem like he's 6'-6", not 6'-3".  He's developed a smooth stroke, and has a lot of natural speed, with a quick first step and drive to the hole and he can finish. On defense, he's also a standout player, and will probably lead the team in charges taken. This kid is really tough, and he should be a D-I prospect who will sign late. 

This is a team without a true "center"  this year, and we'd look for a couple of guys to hold the post, including Jason Silletto, Jeremiah Bell, Neal Smith and Michael Cowinder.  Michael is in only his second year playing and considering his relative lack of experience, he's developing some decent post moves.  Smith is also young and is putting on some weight this fall during conditioning. He could grow to about 6'-7" and last year he averaged 21 ppg as a Freshman. Smith is fine around the basket, but will need to develop some speed to step into the starting spot in the next few years.  Two guys will probably do most of the alternating at the center position: Jason Silletto and Jeremiah Bell: We'd expect to see Bell get a lot of time, and he's probably the strongest player on the team. He's a real wide-body type of kid, and even though he's only 6'-3" he has pretty good footwork, and can defend guys much bigger than he is.  Jason is a returning varsity player, a very hardworking guy, with excellent rebounding skills, very physical in the post.

Whether this combination of guys has enough to put it all together this year remains to be seen.  But one thing is certain, they will be tested throughout the pre-season with a very busy tournament schedule.  First, from December 7-12, Ocean View will host the Tournament Of Champions, at Ocean View and at one other site to be determined.  This tournament has expanded to 20 teams this year, and some of the top teams in SoCal will be in attendance.  Teams participating are Fontana, Ayala, El Modena, Santa Barbara, Crenshaw, Pasadena, Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Corona Centennial, Long Beach Jordan, Edison Huntington Beach, Redondo, Morningside, Serra, LA Fremont, A.B. Miller, St. John Bosco, Compton, San Diego Horizon, and there's a possibility that others might also be pulled in if the event  expands.

After hosting the TOC, Harris will take the team to the Arroyo Grande Tournament from December 17-19, and then from December 26-31, they'll be at the Nike National Championship tournament in San Diego.

During the mid-season, on January 16, 1998, Ocean View will appear in the adidas/Double Pump MLK Hoops Festival at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where they'll face Canyon of Anaheim in the first game of the day at 9:30 a.m.   Then on February 6, they'll appear in the 1999 Nike Extravaganza hosted by Mater Dei, where they will face the Crenshaw Cougars.

Not bad stuff for a young team.  How far they'll go is anyone's guess at this point. But it's safe to say they'll challenge for their league title again and attempt to repeat as Division III-AA Southern Section Champions.  And we'll be watching throughout the year. 

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