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High School Preview: O.C. Seaview League--
Santa Margarita High--(November 25, 1997)

Everyone is picking this team to be the best in Orange County this season. Whether it will or not is really anyone's guess at this point though. But they've got as good a shot as any team in the area. They've got size, speed, shooting and fine defensive play. Unlike traditional power Mater Dei, which is really in a rebuilding year, SM has five returning starters from a team which finished second in the very competitive Seaview League, losing to Chris Burgess' Woodbridge squad. Last season they finished 18-8 overall, with an 8-2 league record, losing to Esperanza 46-28 (sounds like a football score) in the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs.

The roster this year includes:

Jeff Blackburn (6'-3" Jr F)
Grant Brown (6'-6" Sr F)
Ryan Dwight (5'-9" Jr PG)
Ryan Forehan-Kelly (6'-4" Sr F)
Spencer Gloger (6'-3" Jr G/F)
Al Jahroumi (5'-9" Sr PG)
Kelly Kramer (6'-4" Jr F)
Dekker McKeever (6'-7" Sr F)
Parker McMannes (6'-3" Sr F)
Carson Palmer (6'-5" Sr F)
Steve Pearce (5-9 Sr PG/SG)
Tim Rahall (6'-3", Jr SG)
Paul Restelli (6'-2" Sr G/F)
Craig Rice (6'-2" Sr G)
Jake Rohe (6'-5" Sr F/C)
Steve Tashjian (5'-10" Sr SG)
T.J. Williams (6'-0" Sr PG)

This team is loaded with seniors: Dekker McKeever, Jake Rohe, Forehan-Kelly, T.J. Williams, Parker McMannes, Carson Palmer, Steve Pearce, Grant Brown, Al Jahroumi, Paul Restelli, Steve Tashjian and Craig Rice, in no particular order, except perhaps to acknowledge that McKeever is the most visible of the group, having signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Holy Cross next year, a team which is in the Patriot Conference in D-I, and which plays against mostly military academies and smaller Eastern schools such as Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy; not powerhouse basketball schools, but he'll still get a great education, and get the exposure that D-I schools offer. McKeever's a big guy, 230 lbs. who can bang away inside the paint and score very well with his back to the basket, something which most young players do not like to do any more. He has been working on his post moves and has a nice soft touch from close range. Don't look for him to be a major threat from the perimeter, since he's an inside player, but inside, there will be few who will be able to get him off the block. Also down low will be Jake Rohe, another wide-body type player, who has better quickness and jumping ability than McKeever, plays the post , and Carson Palmer, another big tall guy, who will play nicely for SM; he was a quarterback of the football team, and has a nice handle and a great jumper, with excellent outside shooting ability. Look for him to make a serious contribution to this team.

Others in the front-court will include Parker McMannes, a nice player with a good shot, and Kelly Kramer and Forehan-Kelly (too many guys named "Kelly"), both of whom can play defense and offense very effectively; Kramer is probably the quicker player of the two, and he can penetrate effectively off his very fast first step. Paul Restelli, a senior swingman, will alternate between the SG and SF positions, and is really a true wing, who can shoot from outside, but also offers the ability to slash to the basket and rebound. Grant Brown will also make a serious contribution, and lend his rebounding ability with his 6'-6" size.

In the backcourt, Santa Margarita is loaded with guard talent. Dwight has a great three-pointe, a good handle, and creates opportunities for others. At the point will be T.J. Williams, a very quick first-step point, who has excellent three-point range. Also in the backcourt is Craig Rice, who has a nice outside shot touch, and seniors Al Jahroumi, and Steve Pearce, who's a versatile guard with a good enough handle and shot to play the combo guard position. Also look for Spencer Gloger to show his versatility at the swing position.

Santa Margarita competes in the Seaview League again this year against Corona Del Mar, El Toro, Irvine, Newport Harbor, and Woodbridge. They are coached by Jerry Debusk, who has been coaching for close to 25 years, first at Costa Mesa as an assistant, then as head coach, and then at Newport Harbor where he won four league championships. He briefly coached at Orange Coast College, returned to Newport Harbor, then bounced over to Chapman as an assitant for former USC coach Bob Boyd for a brief stint. He came to Santa Margarita in 1992, and coached the school's varsity basketball teams to four consective League Championships in 93-96, losing the title last year to Woodbridge. The team this year is loaded with returning seniors, and in the off-season, SM lost only one player to transfer: Brendan Casey, a 6-foot junior, is now at Trabuco.

This is a very strong team, and even if they are not as strong as teams like Dominguez, Crenshaw or Westchester, with the depth of talent those schools have, look for them to be a major force in Orange County this year.

The Swish Award

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