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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Cathedral City--(Nov. 1, 1999)

"We're going to have to play hard for 32 minutes of every game; if we do that, and this group continues to listen, learn and we could have another really excellent season. " Cathedral City Head Coach Rob Hanmer

We've been speaking and corresponding on and off for the past couple of years with Rob Hanmer, the young varsity head coach at Cathedral City about a variety of subjects such as his team, the CIF governance structure,  SCIBCA and the polls,  the trials and tribulations of hosting tournaments,  and in short about a wide range of topics involving CIF Southern Section basketball.  And throughout our conversations and letter-writing, Rob has remained positive, upbeat and very encouraging about the what we'll call the "State of Basketball" in the Southern Section.   "There are so many good teams and so many good players, that it's just such an exciting thing for me to be involved in."   Rob attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and while he was a student, he coached the Arroyo Grande frosh-soph and JV teams.   He's been in out in the Desert area for the past few years, and really has no plans to move or change jobs. "If you'd asked me when I came here what my plans were, I would have told you, 'I want to be here a few years and then move on and get a college job.'  But now that I've been at this a few years, I don't really have any plans to move,"  Rob told us during a phone conversation today.  "I love it here in the Desert, and I intend to stay for the indefinite future."     Rob is married, and although he and his wife have no kids (yet), he said "We've got a great dog.  And besides, I've got all these kids here at the school."

Coach Hanmer is one of the most "involved" of the younger generation of coaches to come along in a while.   Whether he's planning a tournament in the "off-season,"  getting ready to host a SCIBCA coaches clinic, be involved in CIF Southern Section committees and SCIBCA committees, or just coach his team, he's energetic, smart, and aggressive and brings a lot of drive to whatever he does.  Cathedral City hosts several large tournaments throughout the summer, featuring some of the top talent in the State, and these events are successful largely because of the time and energy that Rob and his staff devote to them.  That same drive, energy and exuberance is clearly evident when you watch him coach and see how his teams react and respond.   And this season, he's got a group of young men poised to work hard, share the ball and play smart, and succeed.   It's a team that could challenge for a title, especially if they get lucky and stay injury free.

Cathedral City plays in the Southern Section, and last season they were slotted into Division II-AA in the playoffs with teams like Compton Dominguez, Westlake, Garey, California, Sonora, El Dorado, Compton, Savanna, Newport Harbor, Trabuco Hills, Brea Olinda, Buena Park, West Torrance, Gahr, La Serna, Tustin, Perris, Pasadena, Torrance, Foothill, Elsinore, Paso Robles, Burroughs, Redondo and Agoura. All very talented teams.  Last year after winning their league, going 9-1, and 22-7 overall, they faced Hemet in the first round, and beat them 64-55.  In the second round they lost to Sonora 82-72. Three years ago, Cathedral City was the CIF Southern Section Champions in Division IIIAA, but with a steady increase in enrollment with the burgeoning population in the Palm Springs-Desert Hot Springs-Cathedral City region (generally what we'll refer to as the Coachella Valley), they have moved up into a higher and more competitive brand of basketball.   While they've won the Desert Valley League the last three seasons (10-0 in 96-97 and 97-98) they've been unable so far to duplicate the feat of a Section Title.

Cathedral City has only one returning senior starter from that Championship season, but they also have a lot of very good, talented players who have also had their share of success and Hanmer also is looking forward to seeing what the newcomers can do.  The team played more than 51 games this summer, and won the 24 team Cuesta College Team Camp as well.  Hanmer works hard at bringing these guys together, but he's also got a lot of good coaching help in several fine assistants, including Sy Lenes (the same guy who also puts on the Palm Springs series of summer tournaments at Palm Springs High School), David Johnson, Neil McElroy, Tyrone Robinson, Chad McGough and Jim Custer.   The roster for 1999-2000 (in alphabetical order) looks like this:

J.J. Custer 6'-3" Sr. SF/SG
Gerald DeVance 5'-10" Jr. PG
Brandon Gray 6'-4" So. SF/PF
Jayson Green 6'-0" Sr. SG
Paul Heredia 6'-5" Jr. PF/SF
Omar Jimenez 5'-10" Sr. SG
Daniel Laing 6'-4" Jr. SF
David Lamar 6'-4" Sr. SF
Jeff Lambert 6'-0" Jr. SG
Blake Moorman 6'-0" Jr. G
David Ochoa 6'-1" Sr. SG
Thomas Shewmake 6'-9" So. SF
Aaron Smith 6'-3" Sr. SG/SF
Jeremy Thornburg 6'-2" Sr. SG/SF
Miguel Torres 6'-5" Sr. C/PF

This is probably the biggest overall team in terms of average height in the history of the Cathedral City program, and the group has eight players over 6'-3", and as for some of the "shorter" players, they aren't lacking anything in terms of talent.   Like a lot of other teams in the Southern Section (and probably elsewhere throughout the country) the basketball team has a number of two- (and even three)- sport athletes, and this year there are 7 varsity roster players who are presently competing on a Cathedral City football team which is ranked No. 2 in Division VII of Southern Section.   So like other coaches in the region, Hanmer is both pleased and a little nervous every Friday night, just hoping everyone stays healthy.  Aaron Smith, Jayson Green, Jeremy Thornburg and Jeff Lambert are several of the current football playing group who could all compete for starting positions after football is over.  For now though, the likely starters are DeVance at point, Ochoa at the two guard, Thomas Shewmake at the wing/small forward, Paul Heredia at the power forward spot, and Miguel Torres at the post.  

The backcourt of this team is led by starting point guard Gerald DeVance.  We first saw Gerald in his freshman season, at one of the tournaments sponsored by Cathedral City and we were very impressed with him then, and remain impressed now.  He's lightning quick, has an excellent handle and knowledge of the game, and just seems to find a way to score or get the ball to the open man.  Like Wesley Stokes at Long Beach Poly, DeVance can take a man off the dribble or jack it up from way outside beyond the three point line, and he's a very quick shot, although right now his shot looks a little low, kind of like he's shooting it off the hip, but we've said the same thing about a lot of other players too only to realize that messing with shot mechanics can sometimes be a mistake:  If it's not broken, don't fix it, and DeVance's shot, even if it's not the prettiest looking you'll ever see, goes in more often than not.   As a potential college player, his only challenge will be to convince a college coach that a 5'-9" player (assuming he doesn't get much bigger) can defend and score consistently over much bigger guys, something which DeVance should have not much trouble doing from the games we've seen him play.  He didn't play much this summer other than with Cathedral City, and from a recruiting point of view, hopefully he'll get out on the club travel team circuit this next summer; if he does, his recruiting stock should skyrocket.  When DeVance isn't scoring, he has a great ability to make the good pass to the open man, and he's one of the better true point guards in the junior class, averaging both 13.6 ppg and 7.3 assists per game, both impressive numbers as a sophomore.  He'll be joined in the backcourt, by David Ochoa, a spectacular but streaky shooting guard with a good, quick release, who will be a tremendous perimeter threat for the Lions.  Ochoa was a Co-MVP on last season 19-3 league champion JV team, who averaged more than 18 ppg, and to give an idea of the kind of shooting he's capable of, he once hit 11 three pointers in a game last season.  Whether he'll be able to score like that against the better defenses he'll see on varsity, is an open question, but he's definitely got a good shooting touch, and should provide added offense against most zones. Once football season is over, look for others like three sport star Jeremy Thornburg, and Jayson Green and Jeff Lambert to make valuable contributions, and as we said, to potentially all compete for starting positions.   There are a number of others who could help in the backcourt too, including Blake Moorman, and Omar Jimenez also up from the JV's, and from Aaron Smith, the only returning player who owns a CIF Championship ring

At the wing look for Thomas Shewmake, a tall, but well-proportioned small forward type of player who has the ability and certainly the height to switch over to the four or five position as he grows and develops, but his tendency is to want to play out on the wing as a face up, shooter. Thomas can run the floor well, and actually likes to handle the ball as well, something that he's had varying degrees of success depending on the strength of the opposing team's defense.   Thomas, unlike DeVance, has worked a lot with an outside club team, including playing for Rockfish during the spring and summer,  and he's made great strides since he first showed up one Saturday last February for the RSL as a somewhat raw but very promising freshman.  He has developed a good shooting touch inside and out to about 15' and can hit the occasional perimeter shot, although his true value is as an inside rebounder and shot-blocker, and last year he averaged 3.1 blocks per game, and 5.5 rebounds per game, a number that could dramatically rise if he got used to living in the paint. We've rated him as one of SoCalHoops' Top Sophomores,  and likewise, he's been rated as one of the top prospects by Recruiting USA and he was one of only 20 sophomores in all of California to be named to the prestigious Blue Ribbon College Year Book High School All-America team, as an honorable mention selection.

At the power forward spot, look for Paul Heredia, a returning starter who has the ability and drive to be a really excellent high school player and a potential D-I college player as well.  Paul has played for several club teams including Rockfish and BWBA, and he had a good summer.  He's got a good shot out to three-point range, and can slash to the hole and rebound well. He'll need to improve defensively this year, but with steady work, and his improved strength and speed, he should be an important aspect to the offense. Miguel Torres will start initially at the five, and he could get some assistance from JJ Custer as well as Daniel Laing, who will all give the Lions some added depth off the bench. Brandon Gray is another player worthy of taking some note, especially for opponents.  He's just a huge space-eater, who at 6'-4" and 260 lbs, will block up the middle and do a lot of the dirty work that a lot of others don't often like to handle.  According to Hanmer, "He's our own version of Shaq."  We just hope he shoots free throws a little better.

Cathedral City will have a very busy season, and a tough one.  They open with a scrimmage against Artesia at home on November 27 (that's a Saturday) at 11:00 a.m., so if you're interested in trekking out to Palm Springs for the weekend to catch some great action between these two squads, this one might be worth the trip, and this is a great time of year for that area of California.  Artesia has made a habit of playing in the Cathedral City "Desert Classics" in the summer, and if you've seen the facilities at Hanmer's place you'll understand why:  The gyms (there are two) are immaculate, in pristine condition, with beautiful floors, fully air-conditioned and best of all, Hanmer is able to attract top-notch competition.

On December 1, Cathedral City plays Central Union at 7:00 p.m. on their home court, then follows that up the next night, December 2, with an away game against Monte Vista, also at 7:00 p.m. 

Beginning December 6, Cathedral City plays host to the Desert-City Winter Basketball Classic, a 12 team tournament which will run from Dec. 6, 7 and 8,  and then again from Dec. 10-11 for the finals.  The tournament will feature West Valley, Temescal Canyon, Palm Desert, East Valley, Serrano, Chaparral, Calexico, Silverado, La Quinta, Central and Carlsbad.  Cathedral City will play Calexico on the 6th and Silverado on the 8th.

From December 14-18, Cathedral City will play in the Murrieta Valley Tournament, and they'll follow that up with a  the West Valley Tournament which runs from December 20-21 and then continues again from Dec. 27-30. 

From there, the rest of the schedule looks like this (Desert Valley League Games designated with an asterisk *):

Date Day Opponent Site Time
Jan 4 Tues La Quinta* Home 7:00 p.m.
Jan 7 Fri Southwest Home 7:00 p.m.
Jan 11 Tues Coachella* Home 7:00 p.m.
Jan 19 Wed Indio* Away 7:00 p.m.
Jan 21 Fri Palm Desert* Away 7:00 p.m.
Jan 24 Mon Palm Springs* Home 7:00 p.m.
Jan 26 Wed La Quinta* Away 7:00 p.m.
Jan 31 Mon Coachella* Away 7:00 p.m.
Feb 4 Fri Indio* Home 7:00 p.m.
Feb 8 Tues Palm Desert* Home 7:00 p.m.
Feb 10 Thurs Palm Springs* Away 7:00 p.m.

This is a team which will be competing with some of the best teams in the Southern Section in Division II-AA during the playoffs.  The question is not whether they will get there again, but just how far they can go. Whether they've got the talent or the depth to make it to the finals is something that only time will tell.   We'll be watching.

 The Swish Award
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