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High School Preview: Sondheimer's Other
Valley Team Picks--(November 25, 1997)

Well, some information is better than none. In his article today, Eric Sondheimer has also given some information on a few of the other local area teams, in addition to the more in-depth story about the San Fernando Tigers. He gives mini-profiles of Cleveland, Birmingham, Taft, Sylmar and Poly Highs. We've got full reviews in the works on these teams, but for now, as we said, some information is better than none, especially since the official season will get underway today (see article on today's and tomorrow's games).

So here's Sondheimer's takes on each of these teams:

Cleveland:

Sondheimer believes that second-year Coach Andre Chevalier is trying to restore the tradition and excellence of the Bobby Braswell era. It could be a tall order, since Braswell's been long gone, and is now coaching at CSUN. But if Chevalier keeps getting transfers with the quality of Kent Dennis, "it won't be long before Cleveland returns as a 4-A power," says Sondheimer. Dennis, a 6'-3" transfer from Bell-Jeff, (who apparently didn't want to play behind Ruben Douglas) should be an offensive force, and Cleveland also has lots of quickness with guard Kenny Mason and the Smith brothers, 6'-4" Brian and 6'-5" Simmagin. Sondheimer picks them as a "solid favorite to win the West Valley League."

Cleveland opens its season on December 2 at Pasadena High at 4:45 pm.

Birmingham:

Sondheimer likes 6'-3" Emmanuel Evans, who also plays football for Birmingham (who continue to be the "Braves" at least until the LAUSD makes them lose the mascot next year at a cost of $250,000 due to claims of insensitivity to Native Americans). According to Sondheimer, he's effective as a rebounder and can score on short-range jumpers. Coach Al Bennett calls senior Fahim Hassankhail "the best point guard in the Valley." Maybe he hasn't seen Gil Arenas, or any number of other CIF players. But then, maybe he's right. We'll go take a look. The Braves will " be underestimated, but this is a team capable of surprising San Fernando in the North Valley, " according to Eric.

Taft:

Few teams have three players with the experience and talent of the Toreadors' senior trio consisting of 6-6 Amir Bar-Nitzer, 6'-3" Brandyn Fisher and 6'-4" Harold Shevlin. But, Sondheimer asks, "can they play as a team?" Sondheimer doesn't give us the answer, but does state the obvious: "That's Coach Mark Drucker's big challenge."

Sylmar:

The Sylmar Spartans won the Mid-Valley League title last season. They return two top juniors in 6'-5" Jeremiah Turner and 5'-10" point guard Brandon Jacobs. And in the only other note from Sondheimer, "They also have a new maple gym floor." Oh yeah, they also have 6'-3" PF George Wrighster, who transferred from Buckley to continue playing with his summer club teammates.

Poly:

According to Sondheimer, "This is the season 6'-3" senior Ellis Richardson starts to dominate." We'll see. He averaged 18.3 ppg last season and "continues to mature." Poly returns five Parrot starters from a team that finished 18-8 last season.

The Swish Award

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