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SoCalHoops High School Preview

High School Team Preview:
State Champion D-V Pacific Hills--(Oct. 21, 1998)

"We've had our share of close games. Hopefully we've gotten that out of our system." --Coach John Bobich, on his team's three triple-overtime playoff games last year.

Pacific Hills is located in West Hollywood. The school is small, with a high school student body of somewhere around 275.  The school doesn't even have it's own gym, and uses a local middle school's gym to practice, and plays it's home games at Daniel Murphy High School. It's an academically enriched environment. But looking around, the first thing you'd think wouldn't be "basketball."

But you'd be wrong.

Pacific Hills is the defending State Champion in Division V, the Southern Section CIF Division V Champion, and they've won 5 CIF Southern Section Titles in the school's recent history.  They were the State Runners-Up in 1989, losing in the final to Menlo School  64-59 in a game played at Pepperdine (when the school was called Bel-Air Prep), and then again they lost in the State Finals in 1994 to Ripon 60-46 in a game played at the Oakland Coliseum. Of course, before it was known as Pacific Hills, it was a prep school which was the home, for a short while of Monica Lewinsky. Really, that's not a joke. And it's also the alma mater of David and Dana Pump.  But as small as it is, it's  a seriously talented basketball school with a great tradition of winning, and last season was about the most exciting they've had in memory.  In the Southern California Regional finals of the State Championship Tournament, PH went three overtimes against top-seeded San Diego Horizon before winning 81-79.  And in the semi-finals of the Southern Section playoffs, against Montclair Prep, a team which actually had been favored by many in pre-season to win the State Title, Pacific Hills also went into triple-overtime, winning on a tip at the buzzer after missing the front end of a free-throw but getting the second one off a miss. And in the Southern Section Final, against Oxnard Santa Clara, they did it again, going to triple overtime before winning 82-76.  These guys were the Cliffhanger Kids last year.

Pacific Hills plays in the very competitive Delphic League which features schools like Crossroads, Brentwood, Campbell Hall, and this year for the first time in about four years, Montclair Prep is back too.  John Bobich has been the head coach for the last 10 years, and is also currently the Dean of Students. He is a graduate of Mary Star High School in San Pedro, where he played high school ball, and a graduate of Long Beach State, where he didn't play any college ball. But in between, he attended LA Harbor College and he did get a taste of junior college basketball for two years.  He graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in P.E. and then attended Cal State Dominguez Hills where he got his teaching credential. John has had other offers to coach at other schools but really enjoys what he's doing and has no plans to move in the near future. "It's really great here. The students are terrific, the administration is supportive, and this is just a great place to be. It would be better if we had our own gym, but it's still a great place to be." There are several assistant coaches, and we don't pretend to know them all, but David Dove is there is. 

Last year's team featured some very talented guys, none more than Conrad Adamczak (6'-5" F) who is now attending prep school in the east at Notre Dame Academy Prep School. Also gone from last year's squad are Kamaal Davis (6'-1" G), Peter Rovekamp (5'-11" F), Charles Pagan (6'-0" F), Yves Benaroch, and Gary White.  The team had 8 juniors and sophomores last year, and one freshman, and almost all of them are returning. "This is the year for our former juniors, now seniors, to step up and show the same leadership that the seniors did last season. If they do, we'll succeed. If they don't, we won't." Bobich told us.

Here's the roster:

Brandon Owens (5'-9" Sr. PG)
Hyman Lewis (6'-0" Sr. SG)
Michael Jaffe (6'-2" Sr. PF)
Sharif Joshua (6'-1" Jr. SG/SF)
Daniel Malwah (6'-2" So. SG)
Anthony Kyles (6'-1" Jr. SG/SF)
Rodney Harvey (6'-5" Sr. C)
Ryan Abrahams (6'-3" Sr. SF)
Sean Cole (6'-6" So. F/C)
Jonathon Wade (5'-10" Jr. PG/SG)
Amani Daanish (6'-5" So. SF/PF)
Anthony Davis (6'-2" So. F)

This team starts with Brandon and Ryan, two players who have gotten tremendous amounts of exposure this summer, and who are still a bit under-recruited in our opinion, but who are among the most talented at their positions.  Brandon is one of those guys who Bobich is looking to for senior leadership. "There's no question about Brandon's skills. He's one of the best," said Bobich. "Now it's his turn to be the team leader." Brandon is quick, has a great handle, can drive, penetrate and push the break, and he makes very few mistakes.   Right now he's attracted some D-I attention but will probably wait until the spring to sign.  He played very well at the Double Pump Fall Discovery Shootout, playing for several teams, but really standing out on the Pump-N-Run II team. Ryan Abrahams, who can play the 2 or 3, is a smooth, quick player, maybe the most athletic on the team this year, and he can drive and finish and just elevate when he goes to the rim.  He's bulked up a bit this summer, and is a great defender. Right now Navy has offered, but he's also considering several other option from a few other D-I schools.

Another player who is expected to step up is Hyman, a very talented defender and one of the top offensive players on the team. He's a quick, strong three year varsity player with a decent outside shot and a good handle who can finish on the drive.  Look for Jaffe at the power forward spot: He's a sort of Kurt Rambis type of player, about 200 lbs., a very smart, tough player who goes for the loose balls, grabs the boards and will put a block on people or set a pick when it's needed.  Jaffe will need some experience at the varsity level, and he was brought up at the end of the season from jv, so look for him to get a lot of early seasoning with quality minutes. Sharif is yet another senior who didn't see a lot of time last year, but he is a great shooter from the perimeter and will see a lot more time this year. He's got a fairly quick first step, can penetrate and will finish.  Malweh is young, but very talented and he will use his good quickness at the two spot to come off screens or beat his man off the dribble and either shoot or get the ball to the open man.

Kyles is another shooting guard, really a three point specialist and he was the MVP of the JV team last year and was also brought up for the playoffs. Along with Jonathon Wade, another tough kid who is quick, fast and will also see some time at the one, we'd expect these two guys to see a significant amount of time on the floor at the two.

At the backup forward spots, look for Anthony Davis and Amani to come in and help with Sean Cole.  Sean is a transfer from St. Monica's, who is a pretty raw talent right now, but very coachable, and with his size and bulk, we'd also look for him to do some time at the center position. He can run the floor well, and is a decent passer and scorer with great potential. Amani is more of a four as is Davis, and Daanish was the most improved player off the jv squad last year. He attended Snow Valley and did very well, and is becoming a skilled player, and will use his quickness and good moves around the basket to hurt a lot of opponents. Anthony had a great summer, and will contribute some quality minutes this year as well.

The biggest question on the team this year will be Rodney Harvey, who is coming off an ankle injury and probably won't be 100% until about mid-December.  Rodney is very athletic, strong , and is just a huge guy at 250 lbs. If he's healthy, Pacific can give some of it's league rivals a tough time; without him, we'd look for Cole or Amani to try to step up to the center position. Rodney is also attracting some D-I attention, schools like Iona College, but we don't look for him to sign until the spring.

Pacific Hills will be playing a pretty busy schedule in December. First they'll be traveling to Orange County for the Brethren Christian Tournament from November 30 through December 5, which will feature teams like Bell-Jeff, St. Anthony's and others. Then they'll be appearing at the El Segundo Tournament, a 16 team tournament from December 7 through 12, and then finally they'll be appearing in San Diego at the Mt. Carmel Classic from December 28 through 31st. 

How good will this team be? "We should be very competitive in our league, and I think it will be an interesting battle for second place," Bobich told us. "Crossroads is always tough, and right now, they've got to be the favorite. But we're pretty strong too, and I've heard that Brentwood and Campbell Hall are going to be good this year as well."  Are they good enough to win another state title?  Maybe with some luck, and an injury free year. But only if they stay away from those triple overtime games. Or maybe only if they can pull off three again.

 
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