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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Huntington Beach Ocean View HS--(Oct. 29, 2000)

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True to our word about trying to keep these previews short, we're not going to feature any bio on Seahawk Head Coach Jim Harris.  Suffice it to say, he's been there a long time, and has been very successful, as have the Seahawks, with one Southern Section title in 1998, and 9 league titles ('80, '81, '85, '86, '88, '89, '98, '99 and '00).  Very successful.   Now, on to the team itself. . . . but before get to making any predictions or offering any analysis, we have to take a detour back to the end of last season, whether some people consider this "fair" or not:

We just feel compelled to say this, because along with everyone else who pumped and propped Artesia for all those years, we sort of think we at least owe this one to the guys at Ocean View. . .not just them, but at the very least, them):  Were it not for a group of guys who never should have been playing high school ball to begin with (at least not according to the CIF Southern Section office), Ocean View would likely have been the Southern Section Division II-A Champs last year, and who knows, they might have made a serious run at Compton Dominguez for the State title too. . .but we'll never know now, because based on the seeding the Seahawks got in the State tournament, they were eliminated by Bakersfield in the first round of the Southern Regionals.  Still, Harris' team managed to compile a 29-4 overall record, losing only to Mater Dei at last year's Tournament of Champions, Eisenhower in a tournament loss,   and to Artesia in the Southern Section Finals of D-IIA and, as noted Bakersfield in the State tournament.   In league, the Seahawks went 8-0. 

But it was that one game at the Pond which seemed to set a pallor over what had been otherwise an outstanding season, and it was a game which Ocean View, as mentioned, lost to Artesia.  Actually, using the word "lost" is an interesting choice of words, because the game was really taken from them as much as if the baskets on their side of the court were a foot higher and a foot farther behind the baseline than their opponent's.  And while there are many who would argue with us about this,  who would say that we're unfairly complaining about what went on at Artesia in hindsight,  well, hindsight is one of those wonderful things which often allows us to correct a seemingly myopic view.   It's like putting on glasses and being able to see again:   And while there's no doubt about the fact that the Artesia guys were talented, much more talented than just about any other high school players, we've now found out why that was so:  They were too old, and had no business being on a high school court.  This was men against boys, and predictably, the boys lost. 

The key scorers for Artesia, who were either out of eligibility, too old, or both according to the CIF and other sources, outscored the Seahawks in the Southern Section final at the Pond by 37 points, 83-46, with most of the Artesia points coming from the key suspects:  Jon Steffanson, Franklin Matos, Amaury/Apolinar Fernandez (or whatever his real name was) and Jack Martinez, who combined for 61 of the 83 points.  And what of Ocean View's performance in that game?

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Marques Crane
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Torin Beeler

As good as they'd been all season, the Seahawks just never got going offensively in that game. Marques Crane (pictured left, who had himself left Artesia at the start of season and transferred to Ocean View), who had averaged 22.1 ppg up through the regular season,  and who was selected as the CIF Co-Player of the Year in the Southern Section (along with Apolinar Fernandez, who didn't show up to pick up the award), was held to just 15 points.  Torin Beeler (pictured right) one of Ocean View's other leading scorers (also a Southern Section All-CIF selection) was held to just 3 points, 12.4 less than his 15.4 average.  Jeremiah Bell, also an All-CIF selection, had just 7, off from his season average of 15.9.

Ocean View was a good team last year, in fact a great high school  team.  Can they duplicate their success, particularly their league success against other Golden West teams like Saddleback, Santa Ana, Tustin, Westminster, and some of the very tough non-league teams they are likely to face again this year, like University, Servite, Mater Dei, and others? Who knows. . . . The team's roster this year looks like:

Torin Beeler   6'-5" Sr. SG/SF
Marques Crane   6'-5" Sr. SG
Neil Smith   6'-7" Sr. PF/C
Jason Roth   6'-5" Sr. C
Matt Hatch   6'-3" Jr. C
Carter "Bear" Wurts   6'-4" Fr. C
Casey Ortiz   6'-5" So. G
Steve Clarke   6'-2" Jr. G
Kevin Chow   5'-5" Sr. G
Greg Okwukibonye   6'-2" Fr. G
Brett Lusk   6'-0" Sr. G
Jimmy Smith   6'-4" Sr. F/C
Mazen Abdallah   6'-3" Sr. F
Jeff Scott   5'-9" Sr. G

Marques is a tremendously talented shooter, a really interesting player with a great sense of humor and a love for the game, but whether he will be a qualifier for the D-I level or not is an open question right now.  He was one of the best players this summer at the U.S. Basketball "Youth Development" event in Colorado Springs, and played very well for the Double Pump All Stars team in several spring and summer events (e.g. the EBO Mats' Madness, Double Pump's Easter Classic, the Las Vegas adidas Big Time, the Best of Summer, and several others), but his recruitment just has not taken off like many expected.   Right now he's just getting attention from Cal State Fullerton and there is a strong feeling by many that he may not be a qualifier.  Jim Harris says that if he isn't a qualifier, he has pretty much ruled out the prep school route. "He will not go to a prep school if he doesn't qualify," says Harris.  "He wants to graduate with his class, and then if he goes to a JC, well, that's what he'll do."  About his ability, Harris thinks Marques is one of the best shooters in the country. "He can just step it up when the games really count. When there's no pressure, he's kind of loose, but when it really counts, he can just take over a game." 

Torin Beeler is another of those guys who have had an up-and-down summer.   Torin attended ABCD Camp and really impressed a lot of coaches, getting many initially interested in him, including schools like DePaul.   But lately his recruiting has also fallen off a bit, and while there are some schools in which Torin is interested, he's not hearing from a lot of schools.  He may either go the D-III route as his brother Garid did (he's now at Vanguard University), or perhaps to Liberty University, a good solid Christian program (which he's told us is important; remember he attended Calvary Chapel Santa Ana as well), which is apparently recruiting him fairly heavily right now.  Wherever he ends up next year, Torin will be a major force for this Ocean View team.  He can jump out of the gym, defends like an animal, has great mobility, and is a good, but not great shooter, relying mostly on spectacular leaping and dunking ability for his scoring, whereas a guy like Marques is a natural shooter with a great touch and excellent accuracy. Together, they are a spectacular combination.

We don't know a heck of a lot about the other guys on the squad other than what Coach Harris tells us, but we do know that Neal Smith will be the returning post player, and a likely starter, who averaged 4.9 ppg and 4.8 rpg, with Matt Hatch backing up at the post, and Jason Roth providing some depth as well.  And the Seahawks won't lack for depth in the middle, as they've also picked up Bear Wurts, who is reportedly a solid young prospect with a lot of bulk.  Steve Clarke is a returning letter-winner who averaged 4.1 ppg an d1.3 rpb, while Kevin Chow didn't see a lot of time either, but who may see more, getting a chance to improve on his 1.2 ppg average from last season.  Jeff Scott is a transfer from Long Beach Millikan who wil not initially be eligible, but whom Harris expects to see playing during the season.  Greg Okwudibonye (it's pronouced just like it's spelled. . . ;^0), is someone who Harris thinks will be a "great player, one of the best I've ever had," and a capable point guard who will develop over this season.  Casey Ortiz averaged 2.1 ppg and 1.4 rpg last year in limited time, but it was enough to earn a letter, and he'll provide some depth along with Clarke. Jimmy Smith saw little time last year, but could provide some additional minutes off the bench as will Mazen and Chow.

As we've noted in our preview of Santa Barbara, Ocean View will host the Tournament of Champions this year again for the umpty-umpth time (we've really lost count, and could look if it was really important, but suffice it to say, this is a tournament with a long history). It will run from December 4-9 at Ocean View, and will have teams such as Ocean View, Mater Dei, Santa Barbara, Ontario, Compton, Serra, Redondo Union, LA Fremont, Pasadena, Morningside, Cajon, Perris, Compton Centennial, and it appears only to be missing Westchester and Fairfax, the two other LA City Section teams who played last year.  "There may be a couple of other teams added, but that's it for right now as far as I know," Harris told us.

Ocean View will take a break from tournament play, with a couple of preseason individual games, and then from December 20-23, they'll be up in San Luis Obispo for the Arroyo Grande Tournament at Arroyo Grande High School.   We have no idea what other teams (besides OV and Arroyo Grande) are also in that one, but we'll find out shortly and post it here.

Finally after Christmas, they'll be at what used to be the San Diego Nike Christmas Classic at Torrey Pines from December 27th - 30th.  We haven't yet received the brackets nor the complete list of teams, but since Nike pulled the sponsorship John Farrell, who runs the tournament, let the word out to the San Diego Union Tribune last year that less sponsorship money would mean fewer teams from outside the State. 

After the season is underway, Ocean View will also play in the Nike Extravaganza which will be held January 27, 2001.

This is a team which has consistently been at the top of its enrollment division (which has been just about 50 students over being in Division III-AA the last few years), along with Muir, Mayfair and a handful of others, and it should again be a contender.   We'll be watching.

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