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BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW SPIRITS' OUTLOOK BRIGHTER PARACLETE COACH SEES A CHANGE.

Byline: Gideon Rubin Staff Writer

LANCASTER - It won't be difficult for Paraclete High's boys' basketball team to improve on the 1999-2000 season. The Spirits were 3-21 and winless in the Alpha League. By the time Paraclete lost its first nine regular-season games, the team had lost most of its cohesiveness.

Head coach Andrew Gavel figured it was worth employing extraordinary measures to restore the concept of team unity, so after the Spirits concluded their first practice earlier this month, he took his players on a high-ropes adventure at Big Rock Creek at Angeles National Forest.

``I had to do something to shake the doubts our players had after last year,'' Gavel said.

Time will tell if the adventure will make the Spirits a better team, but Gavel said he is encouraged that his players are improved over last season. There are, in fact, few remnants of last year's team. The Spirits return just two players and field a team of five sophomores, five juniors and three seniors, which Gavel says is deeper and more athletic.

Two-time defending Alpha League champion Marshall Fundamental of Pasadena is the preseason favorite to repeat, but Gavel believes his young team can contend for the crown, and a playoff berth is a realistic goal. But before they can run, the Spirits need to walk, and improving as a team and gaining respect are his primary objectives.

Paraclete traditionally likes to run and tries to confuse opponents by frequently changing defenses.

Junior guard Drew Gill and sophomore guard/forward Matt Marquez forge a potent one-two punch. Gill is a dangerous outside shooter, and Marquez can score from the perimeter and is equally effective penetrating defenses.

Senior point guard Evan Jeffries, the only player who is in his fourth year in the program, has emerged as a team leader.

Junior forward Josh Hiley, at 6-foot-4, is the team's only true ``banger'' says Gavel. Forward Mike Pepo, a 6-4 sophomore, will also be counted on for rebounding and shot-blocking.

Key role players include junior forward Curtis Brown, guard/forward Matt Lowrey, and senior forward Doug Morrow. Brown, the football team's leading rusher, won't join the basketball team until Paraclete concludes its run at a fourth consecutive CIF Southern Section Division XII title.

Junior John Taylor and sophomores Philip Vargas, Neil Toepfer and Andy Watts will also get significant playing time.

Senior Nick Kiosey had a disagreement with Gavel early in his junior year and did not play last season. But he and Gavel have are back on good terms and the coach says that although Kiosey's sense of humor sometimes brings him to the boiling point, his ability to help his teammates keep things light is useful.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 29, 2000
Words:449
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