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High School Team Preview:
Santa Margarita High, D-II State Champs--(Nov. 11, 1998)

"We're very fortunate here at Santa Margarita; we've got an incredible talent pool to draw from and the administration is very supportive of the athletic program."  Jerry De Busk

 

Jerry De Busk is the head coach at Santa Margarita Catholic High School located in Rancho Santa Margarita.  The team plays in the Sea View League against Corona Del Mar, El Toro, Irvine, Newport Harbor, and Woodbridge. Last season, they had an overall record of 31-2, and won their league by an average margin of 20 points a game, and won the Southern Section title defeating Compton 71-57, and then defeated Compton again in the State Playoffs 60-50 to advance to the State Championship game at the Arco Arena where they defeated Montgomery 61-52 (we actually did a full account of the game if you're interested in re-living it, and here's the link). 

De Busk believes that this is the best place he's ever coached. "It's been a great ride. We've won three CIF Southern Section titles, and a State Championship," he said. "Really, the administration is very supportive, and it's great to see all of the faculty members get really fired up and enthused at the games."  And he's also seen the other side of that picture, for example when he spent 12 years coaching at Newport Harbor High. "We definitely had our share of apathy there. You could walk across the campus on a game day, and not even know there's a basketball game going on.  It's just the opposite here. Everyone gets into the spirit of the season."   DeBusk is no rookie booster either,   and knows a thing or two about coaching, and he knows that coaching and hard play is what really wins games, not just enthused fans.  He's a graduate of Long Beach State, and has coached at Chapman as an assistant with Bob Boyd from 1989 through 1992.   He's been at Santa Margarita for six years and has enjoyed almost every minute of it.  And frankly, looking at last year's team and this year's roster, what's not to enjoy.

Last season, SM had Carson Palmer (6'-5" F) who is now throwing that weird oblong spheroid to a bunch of guys dressed in yellow and red on Saturdays. The team also featured Jake Rohe (6'-5" F), T.J. Williams (6'-0" G), Dekker McKeever (6'-7" C) who is now at Holy Cross, Craig Rice (6'-2" G), and Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who has made the Cal Bears team as a walk-on, foregoing a full-ride scholarship to UC Riverside.

This year's team returns 5 players from the Championship team, none of them starters. The squad is young, but DeBusk likes their chances. "We've got a great group of players, all of them with real talent and some who will play division I next season. I'm very optimistic," he told us. Here's the roster:

Kelly Kramer (6'-6" Sr. SF/PF)
Spencer Gloger (6'-6" Sr. SF/SF)
Ryan Dwight (5'-10" Sr. PG)
Tim Rahall (6'-2" Sr. SG)
Jeff Blackburn (6'-3" Sr. C/PF)
Ryan Stacey (6'-6" Jr. PF)
Travis Smith (6'-2" Fr. PG/SG)
Brandon Rohe (6'-2" Fr. SG/SF)
Ryan Maconachy (6'-3" Sr. SF/PF)
Blake Oldfield (6'-3" Sr. PF/C)
Jay Wood (5'-11" Sr. PG/SG)
Dan Quijano (6'-3" Fr. PF)
R.J. Socci (6'-0" So. SG)
Jeffrey Gloger (5'-9" So. PG)
Kevin Stacy (6'-2" Fr. SF)

DeBusk likes to keep his teams together during the summer, and following the summer league play, the team traveled to Vegas and competed in the adidas Big Time, winning 3 out of 5 games, and then traveling to Arizona for the BCI Championships where they won four more games against some really good competition.   DeBusk realizes that he's got a lot of young guys on the team, but thinks they'll get valuable experience.

The returners start with Kelly Kramer, who has committed to Brown University. He's an inside-outside wing player, a slasher who can go to the hole and finish, has a great three-point shot, and can run the court very well.   He'll be joined at the wing and shooting guard spot by Spencer Gloger, and both of them will be co-captains of the team this year.  Spencer is looking at several schools, and we'd expect him to make a decision (possibly by today) between Princeton, Pepperdine, USD, Penn, and the University of Richmond.  Spencer was a some-time starter last year, who will definitely start this season, a slasher and scorer with a great handle who could, according to DeBusk, "play the point if we needed him to." 

But for now, we'd look for Ryan Dwight at the point, who last year backed up T.J. Williams (who is at Cal Poly Pomona this season). Ryan can run the show, is a good passer and has very nice ball skills. He's a capable shooter, very smart and he gets the ball to the open man and generally is a real playmaker, a solid point.  Interestingly, he's also one heck of a golfer (as are a lot of the other players at SM), and chances are he'll pick up a scholarship not as a basketball player, but as a four year golfer.  Also returning in the backcourt from last year's team is Tim Rahall who last year backed up Forehan-Kelly. Tim is a great catch & shoot kind of player, possibly the best defender on the team, with good quickness and excellent fundamentals.  The last returnee is Jeff Blackburn, who will cover the post. He's a strong guy, a good shooter facing the basket, and he's a good high post banger and an excellent rebounder. At only 6'-3" but with a real wide-body, he makes up in bulk what he doesn't have in height against bigger opponents.

New to the team this season are Ryan Stacey, a transfer from Mater Dei who is also an excellent low post player.  Ryan has  a good jumper and can go to the basket and finish with either hand (although he's a lefty), and he's got some great moves around the basket, and moves well with and without the ball.   He'll be joined down low by Daniel Quijano, an aggressive, tough freshman who has absolutely no fear, who will vie for playing time,  and by Blake Oldfield, another 6'-3" widebody guy, who at 220 lbs is just a space-eater, with good moves around the basket and decent footwork.

Backing up on the wing will be Brandon Rohe, Jake's brother and another SCA player who can shoot, but who is really new to the DeBusk system, and Ryan Maconachy, a tough banger who can play inside-out, up from the jv. We'd also look to see Kevin Stacey, Ryan's brother, a great perimeter shooter, also a slashing wing player who is very athletic, dunks, runs the floor and just has the same problem as the rest of the other young guys: They'll all have to get used to a more structured type of game, vastly different than the types of play they might be used to on teams like SCA or other traveling programs.

Backing up at the point/shooting guard position will be a couple of other young players: Travis Smith, Jay Wood, R.J. Socci, and Jeffrey Gloger, Spencer's youngest brother.   Travis is combo guard who can cover either position; he's got an outstanding handle and can shoot out to three range. He's a former SCA player who played with DeAngelo Collins and Jamal Walls on Barrett's teams, and even though he's only a freshman, he'll see some significant playing time.  He'll be challenged by Jeffrey, who has an excellent handle and great ball skills, and while DeBusk has coached both of his older brothers throughout their high school careers, he thinks that Jeffrey could be the best. "He's already 5'-9", and when Spencer was his age he was only an inch taller," DeBusk told us.  "But he's also had the benefit of playing point all his life against his older brothers, so he can really handle the ball.  He's smart, has good skills and is extremely competitive, and I think he might just be the best of the three."   Also vying for time at the two will be RJ, who played jv as a freshman and then moved up for the playoffs. He'll take a backup role this season, but he'll develop valuable experience. He's got a great, strong body, and is very tough on d.  Jay also is up from the jv, and he'll also be trying to get time as a combo guard this season; he has a decent shot and a good handle and will capably defend too.

Santa Margarita isn't playing too many "high profile" events during the pre-season, instead opting to stay local and test the waters with the new crew.  From December 1-5 they'll be at the Loara Tournament, featuring teams like Irvine, Servite, and San Bernardino Pacific.  From December 18-19 & 21-22 they'll be at the Trabuco Hills Tournament where they'll face other local teams like Capo Valley (Nate Hair, J.J. Sola, Mike Stowell) and Laguna Hills.   Finally, from December 26-30 (no play on the 27th) they'll be a the Orange Holiday Classic Tournament.

Regular season play opens for them right after the first of the year, and during the season they'll be appearing in the 4th Annual Nike Extravaganza on February 6, 1999 at Cal State Fullerton, where they'll matchup against another local favorite, Servite. 

DeBusk is optimistic, but still a realist about this season.  When we asked him for his predictions, he simply told us "I like Mater Dei's chances."  Er, um, so do we, but we also like Santa Margarita's talent and chemistry.  And the coaching's not too bad either.


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