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SoCalHoops High School News

CIF Boys State Finals Preview:   Division I
Clovis West v.  De La Salle--(March 16, 2000)

What: CIF State Finals--Division I Boys
When: Saturday, March 18, 2000
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Where: Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA

Clovis West makes its first trip to the State Finals on Saturday night, while De La Salle makes its first return visit since losing to Crenshaw in the 1996 finals, 91-81 at Arco Arena. Clovis West will be representing the Southern half of the state. . . and you thought Fresno was in the north?  Forget it.  Even though this is, as noted by sportswriter Gary Klein in today's LA Times, the first time since 1981 that no team from the Southern or City sections is in the finals, it will be one of the most evenly matched games we can ever recall.  The De La Salle Spartans, ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 16 in the nation (USA Today) split with Mater Dei this year,  losing 64-54 on Dec. 30 and winning 55-51 on Feb. 5 at the Nike Extravaganza. The Eagles, ranked No. 6 in the state and No. 13 in the nation, beat Mater Dei 71-64 in Saturday's Southern Regional championship for their 21st consecutive and state-record 39th victory, and these teams have lot more in common than just beating a common opponent. This is a game of great matchups, exciting offenses, high scoring guards, pressure defense, and two effective big-men down low.  In short, this game will have it all.

How about two of the best point guards in the state?   We've got it:  Clovis West's Chris Hernandez (6'-2" Jr. PG0 and De La Salle's Joe See (6'-0" Jr. PG). How about inside matchups with two big men rebounding, blocking and scoring?  You've got 'em:  Clovis West's Charlie Rodriguez (6'-7" So. PF) and DLS' Chris Schlatter (6'-7" Sr. PF).   Excellent shooting guard matchups?  Look no further:  DLS has Charles Brown (6'-0" Jr. G), Chris Hodoh (6'-0" Sr. G), and AJ Kuhle (6'-3" Sr. G) while Clovis West has guys like Jason Wallberg (6'-0" Jr. G), Eric Norcross (6'-5" Sr. G) and Tyrone Jackson (6'-2" Jr. G). 

For DLS, the point is covered by See, a very smart player, who makes heady passes and who can also shoot the lights out from the perimeter.   We've seen him have games in which he's shot 8 three pointers (up at the Fresno Hoop Summit last year), and this season, he's averaging  about 18 ppg.    DLS' Schlatter, who has signed with Division I St. Mary's, is averaging 11 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Charles Brown, a 6-0 junior guard, and A.J. Kuhle, a senior 6-3 guard, also average double figures, each a little over 10 ppg.  At the wings both teams are also loaded, and DLS has Conor Famulener (6'-6" Sr. F) and he's averaging 5.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg, but makes invaluable contributions defensively.  Clovis has guys like Nick Debban (6'-4" So G/F) and Andrew Awad (6'-4" Sr. F) who also provide some strength inside and outside. Clovis should be mostly healthy now after a week to rest up.   Hernandez required nine stitches in his right thumb after a freak accident two weeks ago, and then needed seven more stitches to close a gash near his right eye suffered during Saturday's game, and injury that he originally sustained during last Friday's game against Long Beach Poly in the Southern Regional semifinals. Andrew Awad also was injured with a sprained ankle last Saturday during the same loose ball scramble when Hernandez reopened his head injury. But a little sprain isn't going to stop Clovis, nor is a head injury, and if nothing else, Hernandez enhanced his reputation as one of the toughest, if not the toughest player in the junior class when he seemingly personally willed the Golden Eagles to the win over Mater Dei.

Defensively, these two teams also put on a great show.   De La Salle tends to play a half-court man defense, and Clovis West. . . well, they press, and press and press, as Mater Dei discovered last Saturday.  DLS has also been known to press, and they used it effectively to also defeat Mater Dei at this year's Nike Extravaganza, but they tend to mix up a man defense with a 3-2 zone.  The Spartans have won 25 straight to reach a 30-1 season record.  No. 3 seed Clovis West, routed Simi Valley 100-64 and Long Beach Poly 90-68 to reach the finals, and De La Salle also beat two opponents in the first two rounds of the state tournament by big margins, hammering San Jose Independence 54-26 and just creaming San Francisco Lincoln 65-23.

Both teams are incredibly well-coached, but there's no doubt that Frank Alloco, the head coach of De La Salle is more entertaining than his counterpart, Vance Walberg.  Vance is pretty calm, while Alloco is animated, stomping, talking, cajoling, clapping, almost like having a 6th man on the court, particularly in the first half of games, when the opponent's basket is in front of the DLS bench.   Alloco is probably the most entertaining coach we've seen this year, even more entertaining than Don Lippee of St. Ignatius, who, with his bow ties and sweaters is also really animated. . . maybe they've taken lessons from each other.    Alloco has been to the State Finals before so he knows what it takes:   He coached Walnut Creek Northgate to a Division 3 state title in 1995 and the Division 2 final in 1996.

Here's a look at the rosters of each team:

Clovis West Golden Eagles
Coach: Vance Walberg
De La Salle Spartans
Coach: Frank Alloco
4   Greg Warren   5'-10" Jr. G
5   Brian Geery   5'-10" Sr. G
11   Chris Hernandez   6'-2" Jr. G
12   Jason Walberg   6'-0" Jr. SG
13   Steve Myles   5'-11" Sr. G
21   Andrew Awad   6'-4" Sr. F
22   Danny Parker   5'-9" Jr. G
23   Eric Norcross   6'-5" Sr. G
24   Nick Deban   6'-4" So. G
25   Steve Reid   5'-11" Jr. G
31   Charlie Rodriguez   6'-7" So. F
32   Anthony Aiello   6'-3" Jr. G
34   Nic Cazier   6'-7" Sr. F
35   Mike Enoler   6'-2" Jr. F
41   Matt Avedikian   6'-2" Jr. F
45   Ryan Luchessi   6'-6" Sr. F
3   Charles Brown   6'-0" Jr. G
4   Chris Hodoh   6'-0" Sr. G
5   Chris Schlatter   6'-7" Sr. F
10   A.J. Kuhle   6'-3" Sr. G
11   Joe See   6'-0" Jr. PG)
13   Joe Robinson   6'-2" So. F
14   Peter Burns   5'-11" jr. G
20   Demetrius Williams   6'-3" Jr. G
22   Sean Crockett   6'-0" Jr. G
24   G. Thomas-Carter   6'-3" Jr. F
30   Nick Cashman   6'-3' Sr. F
32   Matt Gutierrez   6'-4" So. F
33   Doyle Rich   6'-3" Sr. F
40   R.T. Knauffq   6'-2" So. G
42   Conor Famulener   6'-6" Sr. F

We really can't even begin to pick this game, but it's sure going to be fun to watch. . . the difference might just be which of the two junior guards, Hernandez or See has a bigger game. . . then again it could come down to which big man can do a better job, Rodriguez or Schlatter. . .  or maybe the coaches. . . or the shooters. . . well, you get the picture.

See you there.

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