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SoCalHoops High School News

CIF Boys State Finals Preview: Division II
Dominguez v. Newark--(March 16, 2000)

What: CIF State Finals--Division II Boys
When: Friday, March 17, 2000
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Where: Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA

Newark Memorial has won 32 straight games without a loss;   Dominguez has only lost two games.  But the teams and levels of competition that these two teams have faced has been worlds apart.  Dominguez has played some of the best teams in the state.  Newark Memorial has. . . well, they've faced some good local Bay Area competition, and even a few teams from outside their region, but it's been mostly the kind of competition that the Dons have seen during San Gabriel Valley League play:  Good, solid high school competition, but no Oak Hill Academies. . .   Newark will now get to face that kind of competition and if you're a Newark Memorial fan, well, all we can say is go rent a copy of "Hoosiers" because that's what you'll have to hope for as teh Cougars take on the No. 1 team in the country. Dominguez  features 7-foot center Tyson Chandler, and that alone should tell you how dominating, how athletic this team can be.  Another clue:  Dominguez is making its fifth appearance at the state championship in six years.   Yet another hint: Dominguez' only losses this year came only to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), ranked No. 2 in the nation (they were ranked No. 1 at the time of the loss), and Clovis West (Fresno), currently ranked ninth by USA Today, a team which knocked Mater Dei out of the Division I title game and which will itself be playing in Sacramento on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.. 

How much of a factor will Tyson Chandler be?  Huge.   At least in our humble opinion.  A lot of people have said that Tyson was stagnating at Dominguez, that he wasn't improving.  A lot of people are just dead wrong.  Chandler has asserted himself during the playoffs and always manages to dominate in the games when he needs to.  In the regional finals against Bakersfield Foothill, he had 14 blocked shots.  Fourteen blocks.  That's huge.  He's also scored consistently this season.  In the Southern Section playoffs he scored 13 (Brea Olinda), 16 (Ramona), 18 (Norte Vista), 15 (San Bernardino), and in the State Regionals, he  averaged about 18 ppg.  He can run, is agile, and Newark really doesn't have anyone on their roster who can contain him. . . well, maybe about 3 guys at once can try, but then that will open up a host of other opportunities for the Dons other athletes. . .

Dominguez will be missing their starting point guard, Micha McKinney, but then a lot of people said that Dominguez has been playing all season without a true point guard anyway.  A lot of people are right, and McKinney is a great combo guard, but ever since the eligibility problems surfaced with Keilon Fortune (5'-11" Jr. PG) who was expected to lead the Dons this year, Dominguez has been forced try a number of options at the one.  With McKinney now out with a wrist injury suffered in the State Regional finals last Saturday, Dominguez will have to pick from a couple of different possibilities, including probably a combinaiton of several different guys like Mingus Murray, Gary Looney, Donald Bluitt, Keion Kindred or Robert Boler. . . possibly even Steve Moore or Larry Johnson, who are primarily shooting guards, but who fit the mold size-wise of the guy who led Dominguez all last year in Marcus Moore (whatever happened to him???). Here's a look at the two teams' rosters:

Dominguez Dons
Coach: Russell Otis
Newark Memorial Cougars
Coach: Craig Ashmore
3   Mingus Murray   5'-7" Fr. G
4   Keith Brooks   6'-7" Sr. F
5   Keion Kindred   6'-2" So. G
10   Gary Looney   5'-9" Sr. G
11   Robert Boler   5'-9" Sr. G
12   Donald Bluitt   5'-9" Sr. G
21   Steve Moore   6'-4" Sr. G
23   Larry Johnson   6'-5" Sr. G
30   Michah McKinney   6'-2" Sr. G
31   Samir Hernandez   6'-6" So. F
32   Tyson Chandler   7'-0" Jr. C
33   Sherman Gay   6'-7" Sr. F
34   Darius Sanders   6'-5" So. F
42   Bobby Jones   6'-7" So. F
3   Ty Zenslock   5'-9" G
5   Jensen Best   5'-9" G
10   Brendan Erickson   6'-1" Sr. G
15   I.B. Idakoji   6'-0" Sr. G
21   Matt Rasmussen   6'-5" Sr. F
22   Robert Hoffman   6'-0" Jr. G
23   Floyd Spain   6'-3" Sr. F
25   Fletcher Brown   6'-3" Jr. F
30   Marquin Chandler   6'-7" Sr. F
31   Cheo White   6'-0" Jr. F
32   Brian Haines   5'-11" Jr. G
3   Nick Lash   6'-0" Sr. F
40   Vernon Hunter   5'-11" Sr. F
55   Vata Tiamini   6'-2" So. F

Newark Memorial started its season with modest expectations:   They just wanted to win, get a league title, and maybe even make it to the North Coast Section finals. They've exceeded everyone's wildest expectations and have now made it where no Newark team has ever been, the State Finals. But just looking at the matchups, at least on paper, this is a team which is probably about ready to run into a stone wall. Dominguez is ranked No. 1 in the country, and that's not just all hype, even if the "national championship" thing is purely mythical. Dominguez is a team that can just steamroll opponents when they want and need to.  Reminders?  How about the playoff game against San Bernardino, a team that's very similar to Newark on paper:   Dominguez 103, San Bernardino 34. . . . We're not predicting that kind of a mismatch here, but it could be another game where Dominguez dominates, especially if Tyson Chandler, Keith Brooks and Steve Moore are really on, and if Sherman Gay can also put up some big numbers like he's capable of doing.  Newark will have to count on two guys, Marquin Chandler who averaged 19.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg during the regular season, and Matt Rasmussen who averaged 20 ppg and 9.0 rpg during the regular season. . . .but this isn't the regular season, and Dominguez isn't any ordinary team.

A little more background on Newark:  Marquin Chandler transferred from Skyline of Oakland two years ago. He was the Cougars' leading scorer as a junior, but as the only threat in the post, he often drew double and triple coverage, and that changed this season when Rasmussen transferred in from Napa. His tenacity and ability to score from the perimeter and the post complemented Chandler's game and the two have combined for 39 points and 20 rebounds a game during the season and through the playoffs.   For Rasmussen it meant not shooting as much as he did at Napa, but he can get the ball either down low or on the perimeter and score.   Other guys on Newark can and will step up when they need to, so Newark isn't only a one-dimensional (or even two-dimensional) threat: In the North Coast Section Championship against St. Francis, Rasmussen and Chandler both fouled out in the second half. Point guard Cheo White, guard Brendan Erickson and reserve guard Vernon Hunter all made key contributions in a 55-46 victory.

This is going to be a great game.  If Newark tries to run with the Dons, they can forget it.  They'll have to hope that they have an excellent half-court offense working, and that they can get Tyson Chandler into foul trouble.  Either way, this will be a fun one. . .

See you there.

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