Some of you may know that I "stuck my neck out" in supporting the feelings of many coaches, ADs, student athletes and parents with regard to the issue of the "Tip-Off Classic" basketball event held this past November by the CIFSDS at Jenny Craig Pavilion at USD.
Although I did not personally air my feelings, I did read a letter from Mrs. Gloria Ransom of Santana High in Santee at the Federated Council meeting this past Friday, here at the Westin Horton Plaza Hotel. Mrs. Ransom felt so strongly about this issue that she wrote the letter after coming from the doctor with a bronchial infection and realizing she would not be able to attend the meeting in person.
While I agree with most of what she states, I do not want to alienate the good people who manage high school sports on behalf of the citizens of California -- that being the state CIF, Federated Council and various other sections and officials. So, I did not add any comments of my own.
Besides, I was announced as a journalist, and felt that, as such, it would be inappropriate. I do applaud the Federated Council for actually addressing the "club" issue on Saturday...head-on...and begrudgingly admitting the real issue...money.
On the other hand, I do also agree with another parent who spoke on Friday. He stated that many times the system in place can give the impression of being heavy-handed and polarized from what the community really wants to see happening. It is because of this perception that I plan on lobbying the state CIF and Federated Council, as well as appropriate legislators, to include the community in the CIF management structure.
My plan is to propose that the Federated Council include a new group of two voting individuals and one non-voting student called the "Community Legislative Liaison."
This group would be comprised of a parent chosen by the governing body from one of the 10 sections and rotating each year...a member of the California Prep Sports Writers Association, voted on by that body...and a non-voting student rotating each year and to be chosen in the same manner as the parent. This group would report back to the committee of the California Legislature responsible for overseeing the CIF.
What a breakthrough in having a community voice in the management of sports for our children in high school. Although everyone I have talked to, including some people pretty high up in CIF circles, thinks this is a great idea in some way, shape or form...there is a problem...this makes way too much sense for it to happen easily.
Now back to the SD Section basketball happenings...
On the girls side...
While I certainly see the value of club sports and support their ability to survive, I felt some real irony talking to Terri Bamford about the circumstances in which Candice Wiggins was injured severely enough playing club volleyball to have to be scoped for torn cartilage between the knee joints.
The excuse is that Candice is drawing some big looks for volleyball. ARE YOU KIDDING! I enjoy helping the CIF with media relations at the state volleyball championships, but give me a break. Candice is big-time in basketball.
I saw Cheryl Miller single handedly dismantle every opponent she faced...and I saw Terri Mann win all the state championships she played in...and Lisa Leslie play with a 102-degree temperature and still dominate in the state championship game...I saw Sheryl Swoops at the Golden Bear Classic in Berkeley when Marsha Sharp introduced this unknown junior college transfer to the assembled media. I saw Jennifer Azzi come to Stanford and change women's basketball. Candice Wiggins has this type of future in store for her. One can only hope the prognosis Bamford offered of 3-4 weeks rehab after putting down the crutches will be correct.
In the meantime, La Jolla Country Day's spot as the top team in the section will certainly be in jeopardy. Last Friday the Torres survived their first game without Wiggins but it took a 34 point effort from Marissa Rivera to put aside Bishop's 52-48. One has to wonder how Country Day will hold up against the constant pressure of Kearny on the 19th of this month when they meet. Stay tuned.
Noticed that Alexis Castro, the junior power player formerly of USDHS, is now throwing them down for Coronado to the tune of 18.9PPG. Word is her immediate eligibility is by mutual consent of both schools.
On the boys side...
Last Friday's gigantic match-up at the Hornets nest left the hosts from Lincoln without their stingers...and solidified Horizon's position as the top team in the section.
The game also settled, once and for all, who the top player in the section certainly is at this point of the season. That player is someone whom opposing coach Charlie Paulk called "a man among boys." A player that had just left Paulk searching for answers by completely taking over the game with 29 points, 21 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocked shots and went 19 of 20 from the free throw line as Horizon woke up after trailing 13-4 midway through the opening stanza to demolish Lincoln 85-63.
Jared Dudley is that player but he wasn't the only player coach Paulk was talking about. After a couple of quick fouls and a slow start, 6-7 senior Alan Wiggins showed he was not intimidated by the hostile surroundings by blocking five shots, pulling down 10 boards and scoring 17 points. Anthony Johnson, who signed to play football for Arizona last Wednesday, had 16 big second half points and helped on the trapping defense of Lincoln star Shaun Davis, as Horizon actually led by as many as 26 early in the fourth quarter at 75-49.
Speaking of the zone trap on Davis, Horizon coach Zack Jones knew he had to do something to stop the Pepperdine bound Davis and put the scoring pressure on Cal Berkeley bound Dominic McGuire. The strategy worked like a fine tooth comb. Davis still managed a game high 30 points, but the trap really effected him with Horizon having two and three players in his face at all times...and McGuire, who buckled under the physical pressure of the Panthers.
The result was a terrible shooting night for Lincoln, especially Davis, who went 1-for-11 from the three-point arc. As a team Lincoln was 2-of-24 from three-ball land.
"We knew we had to make it tough on Davis when he had the ball in his hands, " said a beaming Jones, who seems to have the answers and proper strategy for every situation he's faced this year...short of Westchester.
"Everybody thought this would be Lincoln's year with Nate (Carter) having graduated," said Dudley. "We just wanted this game more...and to prove we are as good as last year's team."
So far this season, I'm inclined to believe the Panthers may be even better than last year's Div IV state championship team.
One still has to be somewhat impressed with the likeable, dreadlocked Paulk, who took the loss in stride while listening to fusion jazz and blues in the locker room after the game. A little music to soothe the pain...and the savage beast.
Up in the north county, El Camino coach Ray Johnson's troops swept into Carlsbad Friday night and flattened the Lancers 85-59 as Johnson won his 491st game...thus becoming the SD Section's all time winningest boys basketball coach.
At his tender age, and with the kind of talent he has been developing over the last several years, 700 to 800 wins should be a real possibility for Johnson if he stays at the high school level.
This week is honor of the NBA All-Star Game, I have decided that instead of ranking the teams, I would name my own All-Star Teams from the San Diego Section. I must tell you that I would put these teams up against any (including Southern) of the other nine section's All-Star teams this year...and even I would pay $8 to see that exhibition.
The teams are as follows...and believe me...paring it down to a starting five with five reserves from this talented group of young men and women was no easy task.
Boys All Star Team
Jared Dudley, Horizon - Forward (MVP)
Mikel Watson, El Camino - Guard
Mohamed Abukar, Rancho Bernardo - Forward
Gyno Pomare, El Camino - Center
Shaun Davis, Lincoln - Guard
Josh Kramer, Torrey Pines - 6th man
Alan Wiggins, Horizon - next off the bench
Dominic McGuire, Lincoln - reserve
Avi Fogel, Torrey Pines - reserve
Andrew Olson, Rancho Bernardo - reserve
Girls All Star Team
Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day - Guard (MVP)
Charde Houston, San Diego - Forward
Daphne Kennedy, Kearny - Guard
Amber Sprague, Mission Bay - Forward
Nikki Oakland, El Camino - Center
Amber Pullin, Kearny - 6th man
Amanda Rego, Mission Bay - next off the bench
Marissa Rivera, La Jolla Country Day - reserve
Megan Johnson, El Camino - reserve
Linda Pace, Francis Parker - reserve
Editor's Note: Harold Abend is the primary San Diego Section correspondent for Cal-Hi Sports and has assisted with media relations for the CIF state office for many years.