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SoCal High School & Prep Preview

High School Preview: O.C. Golden West League--
Servite High--(November 30, 1997)

Servite High is located in Anaheim, and is officially an arm of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. The school has an enrollment of a little over 780 in grades 9-12, and competes in 11 varsity CIF sports; it made the playoffs in every one of them last year.

In basketball, which is all we're really interested in anyway, Servite plays in the crowded and very competitive Golden West League with Ocean View, Saddleback, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Westminster. Considering the veritable cornucopia of 6'-5" players at Servite this year, they could well be the most formidable competition in the Golden West league this season. They won the league last year in freshman, junior varsity and varsity, and a lot of people were surprised. They shouldn't have been. Scott Hamilton, now in his sixth year at Servite is a capable coach, who knows how to bring out the best in players, and he thinks he can do it again this year. The only weakness for Servite is that they lack a true "big man", and will have some difficulty with Ocean View, whom many believe are actually the league favorites with their center Kevin Hanson, a big and versatile 6'-10 post player.

The roster this season includes:

Steve Shea (6'-5" Sr F)
Rafael Zielonka (6'-4" Sr SG/SF)
Jeff Arthur (6'-2" Sr. G)
Ryan Bulatao (5'-8" Sr PG)
Miguel Guerrero (6'-3" Sr. F/C)
Chris Penwarden (6'-5" Sr F/C)
Steve Wilber (6'-2" Sr G)
Mike Deal (6'-5" Sr F)
Max Vallejo (6'-5" Sr C)
Andrew Moore (5'-11" Jr PG)
Billy Hamilton (6'-1" Jr G)
Matt Ponsford (6'-2" Jr F)
Evan Friedl (6'-3" Jr SG)
Jordan O'Brien (6'-4" Jr F)
Joe McGuire (6'-5" So F)

Last season, Servite went 20-7 overall, and finished 9-1 in league play. They will probably duplicate that record again, perhaps only losing to Ocean View in league play. They've got 9 seniors returning or moving up from jv, five juniors and only one sophomore, so they've got plenty of experienced leadership on the floor. Steve Shea, a 6'-5" senior forward averaged 14 points and eight rebounds last season and Rafael Zielonka, also 6'-5", but who was more of a wing type player who averaged eight points and six rebounds, return from last years team.

In the absence of a truly big man, Shea will play the post, and he is probably the best player on the team from a fundamental skills point of view. He has nice post moves, can back his way in to establish and maintain position, and he is also a good jumper as well. Like Scott Long at Chaminade, expect Shea to look for one of the service academies as a first choice. At the 3/4 spot, Zielonka, another 6'-5" guy, will probably be another starter. Zielonka is a tall, skinny young man with a well developed upper body, and a very long wingspan, who plays with great athleticism. He has, as they say, a nose for the ball, and even if he's not a great rebounder, is a consistent scorer and usually gets the ball tipped on the rebound toward the hole. At the other forward spot could be Miguel Guerrero who plays the 4/5 and has good size for a front-line player. He is very aggressive, has good footwork and speed, and rebounds the ball well.

Bulatao was the pre-season favorite to be the starter at the point according to many newspaper reports. He's a very confident player, who has good quickness laterally and off the first step, and pushes the ball effectively up the floor on the break. He also plays very good defense and could be the team's steals leader this season. The three point threat is guard Hamilton, a junior who played varsity last season. He's got a great shot and alsol has the requisite passing ability to play either guard spot, but will probably see the majority of his time at the perimeter. Wilber, at 6'-2" will probably also see time at the shooting guard spot. Seniors Jeff Arthur, a 6-2 guard, Chris Penwarden, a 6-4 forward and and junior Evan Friedl will also see significant playing time. Mike Deal, Max Vallejo and Joe McGuire all bring strong defense and rebounding ability to this team and will also see significant time off the bench.

Servite may, but probably will not win the league this season, but if they don't, they'll come awfully close, giving Ocean View a real run for it. They'll be playing in the National Sports Grill Tip-Off Classic this week (December 1-6) at Servite, Loara and La Quinta Highs, and will also play in a couple of other pre-season tourneys (we'll be getting the details this week). Look for them to go deep into CIF Sectional playoffs and to challenge for a title this year.

The Swish Award

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