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HAVING A BALL; TOMLINSON FINDS HOME AT POINT; MOORPARK BOYS' TEAM IS THRIVING.

Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News

The Moorpark High boys' basketball team is putting the ball in the hands of Todd Tomlinson this season.

The senior guard has moved from the off guard to point guard to keep the high-scoring Tomlinson in the flow. Last season, the 6-1 Tomlinson averaged 23.2 points and made 91 3-point baskets to earn All-Marmonte League honors despite fighting box-in-one and triangle defenses designed to deny him the ball.

``I feel more comfortable,'' Tomlinson said. ``I don't have to work for the ball. I already have it.''

Moorpark is off to an 8-1 start with Tomlinson in charge.

The Musketeers, who won their first seven in a row, captured the Nordhoff tournament title and advanced to the championship of the La Canada/St. Francis tournament. Moorpark began play in the Chaminade tournament on Monday.

Tomlinson has 27 3-point baskets, seven in a pool-play victory over Glendale in the La Canada/St. Francis tournament but is behind his pace of 5.7 per game last season. Tomlinson, however, has increased his average to 24.3 points, making up the difference driving to the basket and at the free-throw line.

``I figured if we put the ball in his hands, we would be better off,'' Moorpark coach Tim Bednar said. `` He is working on making the right decisions and spreading the wealth. He just has to trust his teammates. We have enough guys he can get the ball to who can make outside shots.''

There is also a lot of rebounding help inside with 6-7 senior center Peter Dalrymple and 6-5 juniors Joe Tormos, Greg Estandia and Ron Russ. Moorpark, led by Dalrymple and Tormos, who were named to the all-Marmonte League second team last season, has outrebounded opponents by a 2-1 margin on the offensive boards.

Bednar cites rebounding as the Musketeers' biggest turnaround from last year, when the team finished 11-15 and seventh in the Marmonte League at 2-12.

``It has been the overall strength of our team and a real big force out there,'' Bednar said. ``The schedule has favored us well, but last year we were an average team, honestly and truly. We had really good guards, but our big guys were not really big. This year, the bigger guys have been helping out.''

Not only with rebounding but scoring, as well.

Although Tomlinson leads the team in scoring average, the Muskeeters have had six different high scorers. Guards Ryan Moser, Jared Tavasolian and forward Chris Bucka, all seniors, have given Moorpark a scoring boost.

Bednar has had the luxury to go 10 deep and said this year's team is the deepest and most balanced in his 11 years at Moorpark.

``If you scout us, you can say Todd is our best player,'' Bednar said. ``But after that, you're not sure. We have someone who can come off the bench and score 15 and 18 points. How they play in the first half determines who is going to be playing in the second half.''

The biggest question mark is how Moorpark will fare in Marmonte League play.

The Musketeers started 10-4 and won their league opener against Thousand Oaks but won only one of their final 12 games in their first year in the rugged Marmonte League. Tomlinson, however, is confident the Musketeers can avoid a breakdown this season.

``When we hit the Marmonte League, we weren't ready for the intensity,'' Tomlinson said. ``It was a surprise. It's so hard and you can lose on any night if you don't play hard. It was all downhill. We are trying to stay humble and work hard. We are more focused and have better team chemistry.

``We have been playing well and have confidence.''

AT A GLANCE

Team: Moorpark High boys' basketball

Coach: Tim Bednar, 11th year

Assistant coaches: Brian Friefeld, Ed Gutierrez

1998-99 record: 11-15.

League: Marmonte

League finish: 2-12, seventh

Top returnees: Todd Tomlinson, 6-1, Sr., G; Ryan Moser, 6-2, Sr., Sr., G; Jared Tavasolian, 5-9, Sr. G; Chris Bucka, 6-3, Sr., F; Jeff Illions,6-2, Sr. F; Joe Tormos, 6-5, Jr., F; Peter Dalrymple, 6-7, Sr., C.

Top newcomers: Ryan Dabbs, 5-11, Sr., G; Eric Martinez, 5-11, Sr., G; Andrew Carter, 6-3, Jr., F; Ron Ron Russ, 6-4, Jr., F; Samer Kassab, 6-1,Sr., F; Greg Estandia, 6-5, Jr., F.

CAPTION(S):

Photo, box

PHOTO (color) Todd Tomlinson (3) is Moorpark High's main man, but the Musketeers have plenty of other weapons.

Kirby Lee/Special to the Daily News

Box: At a Glance (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 28, 1999
Words:756
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