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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Cabrillo (Long Beach) HS--(Dec. 6, 1999)

"I think we can compete for a playoff spot this season.  It's our first year in the Moore League, and so that would be a nice thing to achieve.  For now that's what we're going to focus on. . . we'll worry about Mater Dei later." --Greg Pappas, Long Beach Cabrillo Head Coach. 

Long Beach Cabrillo High School is only in its second year of year of existence, athletically speaking.  Last year the school was not part of a league and played freelance in the Southern Seciton, but this year, they've joined the Moore League.  The school is currently in Division IA for purposes of the playoffs, assuming they get there, with an enrollment of 1668 according to the latest CIF Southern Section numbers.   Greg Pappas is the head coach, and he's optimisitic about the Jaguars chances this year.  "The school will go up in enrollment this next year to about 2,700, and then it will top out at about 3,500 in two years.  We've been in existence overall for four years as a school, but have only fielded teams at the varsity level for the past two years, counting this season," Pappas told us.  "Right now we've got a good balance of academics and athletics, and when our new gym facilities are finished, it will be unbelievable.  We'll be able to challenge any school in the area."

Pappas is in his second year as head coach of the Jaguars, but he's been at the coaching business considerably longer.  This is his 20th year overall as a head coach.  He as last at Rowland High School, where he was the head coach for 7 years.  Prior to that he coached at Long Beach Millikan from 1984-89.   He really enjoys the job and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. "I live in the Long Beach area, and love it here. I'm so glad to return to work here in my home.  I want to help turn this school into the next great athletic program in Long Beach, and we should have the talent to do that in the next few years.

Here's a look at the 1999-2000 Long Beach Cabrillo roster:

Tremayne Rankins   6'-4" Sr. SG/SF
Alex Sansberry   6'-1" Sr. PG
Herbie Brown   6'-0" So. PG/SG
Devin Sheridan   5'-10" Jr. SG
Jonathan Brown   6'-3" So. SG/SF
Marcus Wedlo   6'-2" Jr. SG/SF
Jerrion Haley   6'-0" Sr. G
Antonio Staley   5'-10" Sr. G
Ryan Jones   6'-3" Sr. C

This is not an overly tal team, in fact it's a rather short team.  But what they lack in height, they make up for in quickness and smart play on the court. "Our biggest challenge is that with open enrollment, most of the kids who are in our normal residence area never come in here as 9th graders, so we have no real height," Pappas said. "Most of the kids who live in our area and who should be attending Cabrillo are at Poly.  But as our enrollment goes up and our facilities are completed, we'll get more kids.   Our first gym will be completed within the month,  and that one is kind of small and only seats 750 people," Pappas said.  "But wait until they see our second gym, because we'll have kids beating the doors down to come here.  The second gym will be finished in about 18 months, and it will seat 2,500 and be phenomenal.  We'll have a first class weight facility, dance and exercise rooms, office space, conference rooms to watch tapes in, and brand new locker facilities.  It's going to be great."

In the meantime, Pappas wil have to use that team with "no real height" to best advantage.  And on this team it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about position, so we'll talk about the most prominent players first.  Tremayne Rankins is, according to Pappas, a player who might have D-I potential, who averaged 18 ppg last season and 9 rebounds per game, but he'll probably have trouble qualifying.  If he does, the Big West and Big Sky has several school who will be waiting to get him.  And since this is being written after the start of the season, it also makes sense to talk about who is having the best preseason thus far, and that would probably be Alex Sansberry.  Pappas describes him as another potential D-I prospect, who last year averaged 16 ppg and 3 assists per game, and right now he's also a pretty good scorer, helping Cabrillo tremendously at the Gahr tournament this past week.   He's getting some attention from several low to mid D-I school, including Fullerton and a couple of Big Sky institutions.  Alex is a good outside shooter, with long arms who passes the ball well and makes good decisions on the floor.  "His real strength though is his range and he's an excellent three point shooter," Pappas said.

Backing up Sansberry will be Herbie Brown, a young point guard who is probably more of a pure shooter than a passer, and if we were really paying attention to position, we'd probably call him a combo.  He's got good range out to 17', with quick feet. "He's a good athlete who will need to keep up the intensity all the time on the varsity," Pappas said.  "Especially against some of the tougher teams we'll be playing, like Poly, Jordan, and even Compton, this will be a big change for most of our guys," said Pappas. "They'll need to play with intensity for 32 minutes."

One guy who does that is Jonathan Friar, a Dennis Rodman-type,  who likes to rebound, blocks shots and is very athletic. "He doesn't shoot the ball well, doesn't hang out in Vegas, and hasn't wrestled WWF yet, but he will definitely rebound and run the court," said Pappas.   "Dennis does have more tattoos also," Pappas joked. "Friar is a really good young man, and a fine player who will also need to go hard the whole game." 

The remaining players are truly all guards, mostly shooters, although a few will also double as forwards on this team: Devin Sheridan has good range; he's got a nice shot right now but really needs to improve the mechanics of his shot and raise his release.  He's a good decision-maker and has excellent range.  Jonathan Brown has long arms, goes right really well and needs to work on going left more, but also has excellent range on his shot.  "Like the rest of the sophs on this team, he'll need to learn and get used to going hard all the time, 100% of the time," said Pappas. Marcus Wedlo has also been performing well in the preseason tournaments.  He's a good shooter and a good athlete, but needs to work on ball handling some to improve.  Right now he's got a good jumper in the lane out to three point range, but is predominantly more of a catch and release type player, not someone who you want putting the ball on the floor as a first option.  Marcus transferred in this past summer from Compton Centennial where he broke his wrist and didn't play last year. "Marcus only played three years at Centennial, and he's been out, so it will take some time to really learn what his range is. He hasn't regained all his flexibility yet, but he's coming along nicely," said Pappas.   Jerrion Haley, one of the seniors is probably one of the team's best jump defenders and he can also attack the basket on the offensive end as well.   Antonio Staley, is a good shooter who will see some time,  as will Ryan Jones, who will be the lone man in the middle anchoring the center spot. "Ryan has good range on his shot, is good inside, and is one of the few varsity returners from last year," Pappas told us.   "He's about 220 lbs, so that gives us at least someone in the middle who can give us a presence.

Cabrillo will be appearing in three tournaments this fall. Last week they were at the Cerritos/Gahr Tournament, where they finished in fourth place overall, a more than respectable showing for such a young school.   Tomorrow they'll begin play at the Los Alamitos "Main Event" tournament against Verbum Dei, Muir, Long Beach Wilson, Pacifica, Villa Park, and Mayfair.    Then from December 27-30, they'll be at the Best in the West. In between the tournaments, they'll play Rowland today (December 6) and Gary on December 21.

The regular season schedule for Cabrillo looks like this:

Jan 7   @*Wilson
Jan 10   *Millikan
Jan 12   *Poly
Jan 14   @*Lakewood
Jan 19   *Jordan
Jan  21   @*Compton
Jan 28   *Wilson
Feb 2   @*Poly
Feb 4   @*Poly
Feb 7   *Lakewood
Feb 9   @*Jordan
Feb 11   *Compton

Pappas had some thoughts about the season, reflecting on his schedule when we spoke with him: "I've really got no feel for what we might be capable of doing this year.  Four teams will make the playoffs out of the seven in the Moore League, and I don't think there's a tougher league to be in right now.   Poly and Jordan will probably be definite for the playoffs, but then from there it's wide open.  I think we've got just as good a shot as anyone, but then I really don't know right now," Pappas said. 

Given their performance this past week at the Cerritos tournament, Pappas has reason to be encouraged.  They may not contend for a Southern Section title this season, but they'll still be competitive, and they may indeed have a shot at getting that playoff spot their first year in the league.

We'll be watching.

 The Swish Award
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