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High School Team Preview:
Inglewood Morningside High--(Nov. 2, 1998)

"I'm a big fan of pressure defense, and continuity on offense. We do a lot of passing, running, and just hope to be able to catch some better teams sleeping." -- Carl Franklin, head coach, Morningside High

Carl Franklin is the head varsity coach at Morningside High in Inglewood. His immediate predecessor left the job in 1976 (Ron Jacobs), and his predecessor, Jim Harrick went on before him to achieve some level of fame (and even notoriety) at Pepperdine, UCLA, and now Rhode Island.  This is a school which has produced some great basketball talent, and coach Franklin has seen and coached most of it in the last 23 years. He's a native of Detroit where he attended Central High, where he ran cross-country, but didn't play basketball. "I always liked basketball, enjoyed the game, but it wasn't until I went to Cal State LA and  got my P.E. degree that I began to learn the dynamics of the game, it's subtleties, and how it should be played."  He arrived at Morningside in 1972 with his degree from CSULA, and got some pointers and tips on coaching basketball from Jim Harrick, and then from coach Jacobs.  When Jacobs left to coach at El Camino JC (he went on to coach at Loyola Marymount), Franklin took the head coaching job, and he's had it ever since. He's married and has no children. "I've got 500 kids," he joked.

Morningside High is one of those places where you'd expect to find a ton of talent every single year. It's in the heart of "basketball country," close by the forum, and surrounded by schools that have produced basketball dynasties and more than a few Division I and pro players.  But often a lot of players opt instead for Inglewood High, Crenshaw, Redondo,  or other schools in the surrounding area. And as a result, Morningside's records have been spotty: Up one year (two years ago they went to the CIF finals, losing to Harvard-Westlake) and last year they were out in the second round of Southern Section playoffs in Division III-A: After first defeating Northview 57-50, they lost to Bishop Montgomery 68-63, and finished with an overall record of 13-13.

They've had some fine teams, winning the Southern Regional finals in '92 and '93, and Coach Carl Franklin's 1992 team, featuring Stais Boseman (who holds the record for the  third most free-throws ever taken in a Championship game at 16) won the State Championship in Division III, beating Monterey Seaside at the Arco Arena 79-72.  They made it back the following year, but got hammered by Palo Alto at the Oakland Coliseum by 20 points, 79-59.  And that 1993 team was pretty good too, and holds the record for the second most points ever scored in a game (by both teams)  in the Southern Regional Finals at 173 (Morningside scored 91, So. Torrance scored 82). Not since then, has Morningside equaled the greatness it achieved in the early 1990's.  Morningside was also known then for it's girls' teams, which from 1988 through 1991 made four consecutive appearances in the State Championship game, winning twice, and they featured probably the most famous women's star of the 1990's, Lisa Leslie, who still holds the record for the most free throws attempted in a final at 17.

This year's team features it's share of talent, and in Division III-A, where they will play in Southern Section playoffs, assuming that they make it out of league and to the playoffs, they will have as good a chance as any team, because most of the teams in their league are in higher divisions.  It's the league they're going to have trouble with this year. The Ocean League was recently reconfigured and several teams have been moved from their to the Bay League and vice versa. While we haven't seen the official re-leaguing from the CIF, we're told that Morningside's league now includes Inglewood, Redondo, Santa Monica, Compton Centennial, North Torrance, South Torrance and Peninsula.  This is a tough league, and this team will be pressed to finish third and qualify for the playoffs, with Redondo and Inglewood in the mix,  and Santa Monica with Aras Baskauskas (6'-2" Sr. PG) and Compton Centennial with Marquis Poole (6'-2' Sr. PG/SG) will be tough challengers as well.

Here's the roster:

Durell Siplin (5'-10" Sr. PG/SG)
Chrishawn Lawrence (6'-0" Sr. G)
Dwane Trotter (6'-4" Jr. F)
Ramsey Kadana (6'-2" Sr. F)
Kenneth Ellison (5'-7" Sr. PG)
Ricky Rico (6'-7" Jr. C)
Walter Harper (5'-11" Sr. G)
Tracey Cathey (6'-1" Jr. SG)
Daniel Campbell (5'-10" So. PG/SG)
Dante Tatum (6'-3" Jr. F/G)
Steve Walker (6'-2" Jr. F)

This is not an especially tall team, but they do have some standout players, including Ricky Rico, an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker.  Ricky is sort of a project but has a lot of talent and potential. He can fill the lanes and can defend, but is just really learning the offensive game. His base is a bit narrow for a good post game, and he needs to widen his stance a bit but he'll perform very well in the post at this level, but will certainly have trouble with teams like Inglewood and Redondo, who have true centers with greater agility and post skills.

At the point look for Daniel Campbell to alternate with Ellison and Siplin in backup roles, and for Chrishawn to start.   Lawrence is a decent shooter, sort of streaky, and a great defender with good lateral quickness and a decent handle who uses his instincts to get the ball to the open man on the floor. He's more of a passer and disher than a real penetrator, but he will get the job done in close as well, and he can pull up for the j with good medium range on his shot.   Durrell is a good defender who is really a coach's point, and he will run the plays exactly as they are diagrammed out with very little improvisation, which sometimes can be a very good thing; he'll also play the two spot.  Ellison will probably be the first option off the bench at the point:  He's quick, a playmaker whose energy and enthusiasm tends to get the team going. He's very quick and athletic and brings speed to the game.  Campbell is a little like Stanley Thorne (5'-10" Sr. PG) from Fairfax. He's sort of stocky, but very quick with the ball and without it, although his vision on the court is not nearly as good as Stanley's yet, and he's only a soph so there's plenty of time for him to get experience and develop.

At the two spot, look for Tracy Cathey to start. He came off the bench a lot last year, but has excellent range and is very athletic. Siplin will also play the two and he's got decent range out to the arc.   Walter Harper will also see some time in defensive situations: He's not really a point, and he's also not really a two, but he does represent an offensive threat in the back court, as he can handle the ball some and penetrate or spot up from medium range, and he is very athletic and an excellent defender.

At the forward spots, look for Trotter, Kadana, Walker and Tatum.   Walker is more of a four, and will play on the block. He's a big, wide-bodied kid, who will step up and use his football skills to get a ton of work done inside filling the lanes, and he can even post a bit.  Tatum is really more of a three, a wing player with good shooting and nice touch who can also slash to the hole and is a decent rebounder.  Trotter will probably get the nod to start at the four, and he can do some things offensively off the dribble that other forwards on this team can't yet. He's a good post player, with nice footwork, a versatile player who also likes to slash to the hole and can finish.  At the three also will be Ramsey Kadana, an excellent scoring threat who will use his good perimeter shot and quickness off the break to really help this team.

Morningside will get plenty of action in the December pre-season tournament and exhibition period.  Look for them at the Pacific Shores Tournament at Redondo Union High from December 1-6.   They'll also be at the Ocean View Tournament of Champions from December 7-12, and then after taking a break for the holidays, will be playing at the Best in the West from December 26-31.

Morningside is going to have considerable difficulty in it's league this year, but who knows, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, they just could make it to the playoffs again, and might go fairly deep with this young talented squad.  We'll be looking for them again to make some major strides.   Just how major those strides will be, only time will tell.

The Swish Award
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