Thursday, November 30, 2006

Basketball Season is on!

SVHS bearing down on Marmonte League boys' basketball title Pioneers off to a 7-0 start in league play
By Stephen Dorman
photo: ADAM DAVIS/Acorn Newspapers TO THE HOOP - Lorne Jackson of Simi Valley, right, puts up a shot against Thousand Oaks during a Marmonte League contest. The Marmonte League boys' basketball season has reached its midway point, so it's about time to separate the contenders from the pretenders in the race for a league championship.
Prior to tonight's games, Simi Valley had a two-game lead over Westlake, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas. The Pioneers were 7-0 in Marmonte play while the Warriors, Lancers and Coyotes all had 5-2 marks. Utilizing an offense that features four guards and a center, Simi Valley (16-3) has created matchup problems throughout its early-season schedule. "We thought that we could take advantage of teams that were bigger than us by making them play faster," SVHS head coach Christian Aurand said. "On the defensive end, we try to put pressure on the ball the entire game by pressing and trapping. It's been effective so far."
Junior Michael Meza leads the Pioneers in points (16.8) and rebounds (7.1) per game. Another junior, Lorne Jackson, has the team lead in assists (6.3) and steals (3.9) per contest. Brandon Simon and Tyler Ostrovsky have been deadly at times from the 3-point line. "They've proven themselves in the first round of league," Moorpark head coach Tim Bednar said. "You've got to give Simi credit; their games have been close, but they've won the close games."

The Star's Ventura County rankings
January 15, 2007
1. Simi Valley (15-3)

Comment: Last seven opponents averaging 48.5 points per game.
Last week: Defeated Westlake, Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.
2. Thousand Oaks (15-3)
Comment: Lancers have won 18 of last 22 Marmonte League games.
Last week: Defeated Calabasas and Agoura. Lost to Simi Valley.
3. Oxnard (14-4)
4. Westlake (12-5)
5. Camarillo (10-8),1375,VCS_136_5293679,00.html

Simi Valley tightens grip on first
Boys' team overcomes turnovers to beat Royal, stay perfect in league
By Loren Ledin,
January 20, 2007
Once it found its collective grip on the basketball, the Simi Valley High boys' basketball team retained its grip on the Marmonte League race Friday night.

Simi Valley survived 10 turnovers in the first period and a hot-shooting start by its arch rival before edging away in the second half for a 65-58 victory over Royal High at Moopark High's auxiliary gym. Michael Meza collected a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds and Lorne Jackson finished with 25 points and nine rebounds as the first-place Pioneers remain undefeated in the league at 8-0 (17-3 overall). Balanced Royal, with Chris Buckley scoring 13 points and Nico Svoboda notching 11 points, falls to 2-6 in league and 6-14 overall. For Simi Valley, the matchup with a highly motivated arch rival produced the usual dramatics. "Every time we play Royal, we know its going to be a hard game," said Meza, Simi Valley's 6-foot-4 junior center. "They're going to come after us hard and we've got to be ready to play. We didn't play well in the first half, but I thought we played very well in the second half.
"It's a big game for us to win." Simi Valley finished with 13 turnovers in the first half (19 for the game) and trailed by as much as eight points in the second quarter before cutting the deficit to 35-30 at halftime.
The Pioneers, of late, have been unruffled by deficits. A week ago, Simi Valley trailed Thousand Oaks by 10 points at halftime before rallying for a 10-point victory.
"We felt pretty good at halftime to be down by five points after committing all those turnovers in the first half," said Simi Valley coach Christian Aurand. "We knew we were going to be in a tough game because Royal is well-coached and had a good game plan. They had lost some tough games, but they're a good team."
Searching for the upset, Royal nailed 12 of 20 shots in the first half, including four 3-pointers, to apply the pressure.
Simi Valley, behind point guard Jackson, came out strong in the second half. A 14-4 run at the top of the third period, including four points by Meza and five points by Jackson, pushed Simi Valley into a 44-40 lead with 4:45 remaining in the third period. The game stayed nip-and-tuck until Simi Valley unleashed a 9-0 run in the fourth period to grab a 60-49 lead. Jackson scored eight consecutive points for the Pioneers in the final period, including 6 for 6 at the free-throw line.
"It's a big plus when we can put the game in his hands in the second half," said Aurand. "He's making great decision and making clutch shots."
As expected, Aurand is thrilled with his team's 7-0 start in league. Simi Valley last Marmonte League championship came seven seasons ago in 1999-2000.
"To have three juniors and a freshman in the starting lineup and still go undefeated at this point is obviously very pleasing," he said.
Copyright 2007, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.

Quickening the pace has Simi Valley off to fast start
By Derry Eads,

January 15, 2007
One look at his roster told Christian Aurand that change was needed for the Simi Valley High boys' basketball program.

Knowing that he would likely have a starting lineup of four guards and a small forward, Aurand and his staff redirected the team's movement toward an uptempo game fueled by full-court pressure. It has worked better than Aurand thought.

Simi Valley (15-3) is off to its best start in seven years and begins the week with a two-game lead over Westlake, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas as the Marmonte League nears the halfway point of the season. In what may have been a pivotal week for the program, Simi Valley swept Westlake, Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks in succession.
Lorne Jackson scored 66 points in the three-game series last week. With its new approach, Simi Valley has proven that it can win shootouts (the Pioneers have scored 90 or more points five times) or with its half-court game (the last seven opponents have scored 53 or fewer points). "I wasn't a huge pressing coach," said Aurand. "We made a commitment last spring and through the summer.

"It has been fun. It has been a huge key in getting the kids to play harder. It breeds a level of intensity. That is the way they practice every day." What Simi Valley wants to do is test the ball-handling skills of every player on the opposing team. "We tried to take what we have, mainly all guards and one forward, and create a style that would cause problems to the other team," said Aurand.
One of the keys to Simi Valley's success is Jackson, a 6-foot-2 junior guard. Jackson averages 16.2 points, 6.1 assists, 4.1 steals and 4.6 rebounds for the Pioneers.
"Nobody goes to the rack better than Lorne," said Aurand. "He has not only absorbed the scoring load, he has a great ability to make two players guard him."
With Jackson, Simi Valley has a starting lineup of three juniors, one senior and one freshman. Michael Meza, Simi Valley's Mr. Inside, leads the team in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (6.8).

In Simi Valley's 63-53 win over Thousand Oaks last Friday, Tyler Ostrovsky made three crucial 3-point field goals as the Pioneers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit. "Ostrovsky has found his niche," said Aurand. "He has made some clutch 3-pointers for us."
Talk about 3-point shooting, Brandon Simon made 17 3-pointers in a two-game stretch — eight against Camarillo and a school-record nine against Faith Baptist.

One unique stat for the Simi Valley team: Simon, Jackson and Meza have scored 30 points in a game this year.
Copyright 2007, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.

Based on the recent performance of both teams, MaxPreps predicts on: 1/12/2007 Thousand Oaks (CA)will beat Simi Valley (CA) with a final score of 61 - 59.

Boys' basketball: Simi Valley rides 3-point barrage to victory
BY JOHN WAREHAM, Special to the Daily NewsInside SOCAL
Article Last Updated:01/12/2007 11:30:28 PM PST
SIMI VALLEY - What a difference a half makes.
Simi Valley used 3-point shooting and pressure defense in the second half Friday to rally for a 63-53 victory over visiting Thousand Oaks in a Marmonte League game. Down by 10 points at halftime, Simi Valley (15-3, 6-0) jump-started its comeback midway through the third quarter when senior guard Brandon Simon hit two 3-pointers and Tyler Ostrovsky let loose his own barrage of long-range shots to bring the Pioneers back.

As the long-range shots started to fall, the Pioneers' defense clamped down and the rally was in full force. "Tyler Ostrovsky was unbelievable. He's got ice water in his veins," Simi Valley head coach Christian Aurand said. "The kids hung in there when they were down by 10. Then Simon started us off and Tyler got hot." Simon took the game's first 3-pointer with 5:26 left in the third quarter to get Simi Valley back to a 10-point deficit. He then hit his second long shot less than a minute later to cut the Lancers' lead to nine with less than four minutes left in the period. After a Bobby Macias basket for Thousand Oaks, Lorne Jackson hit a 3-pointer, and then he dished to Ostrovsky for his first of three consecutive treys to give Simi Valley its first lead of the game, 44-43.

Macias, who had 17 points in the first half, was contained in the second by an aggressive Simi Valley defense. "We kinda let Macias loose in the first half, and then limited him to only six in the second. That was key," Aurand said.
Macias scored from all over the floor in the first half, and coupled with cold shooting for Simi Valley, the Lancers dominated early. With the game close early, Josh Poppen and Macias led Thousand Oaks on a 15-4 run in the second quarter to extend the Lancers' lead to 32-22 at halftime. Thousand Oaks built the lead up to 13 points early in the third quarter before Simi Valley rallied.

Lorne Jackson led all scorers with 28 points, while Ostrovsky added 14 and Michael Meza had 12 for Simi Valley. Macias finished the game with 23 points and Poppen added 11 for the Lancers, who fell two games behind Simi Valley in the Marmonte standings.

Simi Valley warms to the task
January 13, 2007
For the Simi Valley High boys' basketball team, it was a hit-and-miss kind of game Friday night.
First it couldn't hit. Then it couldn't miss. Now it finds itself in control of the Marmonte League race. Switching from frigid to torrid in one dramatic quarter, Simi Valley turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a 63-53 victory over defending co-champion Thousand Oaks in a key league showdown at Simi Valley High.
Lorne Jackson finished with a game-high 28 points and Tyler Ostrovsky collected 14 points, including three consecutive 3-pointers in the third period, as Simi Valley remained undefeated in league at 6-0 (15-3 overall) in the quest for its first Marmonte championship in seven seasons.

Thousand Oaks, despite 23 points from Bobby Macias, fell to 4-2 in league and 15-3 overall. "We wanted to win so bad," said Jackson. "Even when we fell behind, we had to keep pushing." Almost like switching dials on a water faucet, Simi Valley went from cold to hot from one half to the next. In the opening half, the Pioneers connected on 8 of 28 shots from the field, with zero 3-pointers. In the third quarter, Simi Valley nailed 7 of 10 shots, including six 3-pointers. "We were pretty disappointed with how we played in the first half," said Jackson, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard. "We wanted to keep playing hard. If we did that, we thought we'd have a chance to come back."

Thousand Oaks, leading 32-22 at halftime, pushed the advantage to 13 points on a pair of free throws by Jake Poppen with 6:47 left in the third period. Trailing 37-24, Simi Valley got jalapeno-hot. First, Brandon Simon hit back-to-back treys to cut the deficit to seven points. Consecutive baskets by Jackson, the later a 3-pointer, cut the disadvantage to six points. Up stepped Ostrovsky. He connected on back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing the Pioneers into a 44-43 advantage at the end of the third period. "We always had confident," said the senior guard. "I give all the credit to my teammates, who kept finding me when I was open. All I had to do was hit the shots."

In the fourth period, Jackson and the Pioneers assumed command down the stretch. Jackson's driving layup gave Simi Valley the lead for good at 51-49 with 3:08 remaining. His three-point play on a power drive with 2:41 pushed the advantage to 54-49. Jackson went 4 for 4 on free throws, and Michael Meza hit both of his free throws in the final minute to preserve the victory.
Meza finished with 12 points, while Jake Poppen had 11 points for Thousand Oaks. Simi Valley's last league championship came in the 1999-2000 season. Now it owns victories over Westlake and defending co-champs Calabasas and Thousand Oaks. "Our goal is to get that league championship," said Jackson.

Copyright 2007, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.

Boys' basketball: Simi Valley's Jackson cool, calm, collected
Point guard's unselfish play has lifted his teammates
BY SEAN CEGLINSKY, Special to the Daily NewsInside SOCAL
Article Last Updated:01/04/2007 10:47:04 PM PST

Lorne Jackson's head is seemingly on a swivel as he dribbles the ball across half-court, despite having a pesky guard draped all over his back and a tall, lanky forward heading in his direction for the double-team.

A one-bounce dribble to the left and a quick crossover move back to the right frees up additional space. Seconds later, the Simi Valley High point guard is driving down the lane, into the heart of a defense quickly collapsing around him. To the right, teammate Brandon Simon is beyond the 3-point arc, patiently waiting for the kickout pass, and Tyler Ostrovsky is wide open on the opposite wing, calling for the ball. Jackson collects himself amid all the confusion, somehow notices Michael Meza cutting to the basket out of the corner of his eye and promptly whips a well-placed bounce pass to the forward for an uncontested layup.

"When the ball is in Lorne's hands, good things happen," Simi Valley coach Christian Aurand said. The 6-foot-2 junior has developed into the leader for the Pioneers (11-3), and is averaging 15.4 points, 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game heading into today's 7:30 p.m. Marmonte League game against Agoura. That Jackson has blossomed in the new role has been key, considering the coaching staff decided to replace its traditional half-court offense this season with an up-tempo, run-and-gun style of play more conducive to the team's personnel.

"Sure, there's been an adjustment process," Aurand said. "
But the guys are beginning to grasp the concept and Lorne has been like a coach out on the floor helping everyone along.
"When you play us, you have to pick your poison. If you decide to match up with Lorne one-on-one, you're in trouble. If you send two guys at him, he'll make you pay.

"No disrespect to anyone else out there, but he gets to the rack better than anyone I've seen around here in a while. He's creative and makes good decisions. He's the real deal."
Knight of Palmdale learned that firsthand in late November when Jackson scored 32 points, highlighted by a 16-of-18 effort from the free-throw line, and added five assists, four rebounds and six steals in a 97-82 victory.

Jackson made a believer out of league rival Calabasas, too, after scoring 17 points, including the winning pull-up jumper with less than five seconds left in the fourth quarter of a 62-60 victory.
He also had 10 points and eight assists against the Coyotes. "I'm not afraid to take the big shot," Jackson said. "I like having the ball in my hands. Guess you could say I'm confident, but you have to be if you want to be successful." His contributions shouldn't come as a surprise considering the way he performed a season ago. Jackson managed to work his way into the starting lineup on a senior-dominated team, and averaged 11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.6 steals per game for the Pioneers,
who reached the Southern Section Div. II-A quarterfinals when many thought they'd lose in the first round of the playoffs.

"He started to get comfortable in his own shoes down the stretch a year ago," Aurand said. "He grew up quite a bit last season, more than we expected him to.
He was our best player at times."
Little has changed and his numbers are a reflection of that, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Jackson is averaging 4.4 steals per game, the third-highest total in the state behind Twentynine Palms' Nico Matthews (6.1) and Canyon of Anaheim's Jerime Anderson (4.5).
"Jackson is a physical guard who has a great approach to the game,"
Knight coach Tom Hegre said.
"He creates matchup problems all over the court. Simi Valley is going to go as far as he takes them."

Division I schools are beginning to recognize his exploits, both on and off the court (Jackson maintains a 3.8 grade-point average). Stanford, UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount have expressed interest. College, however, isn't foremost on Jackson's mind, at least for the time being. His concern is getting out in transition, running the fast break and creating easy baskets for his teammates.
Meza has been the main beneficiary of Jackson's unselfish play. Meza is averaging 17.4 points and is shooting 66 percent from the field.

Simon has emerged as one of the better 3-point shooters in the area and has connected on 42 shots from behind the arc. Ostrovsky isn't too far behind with 36, an impressive total considering he has made just six from inside the arc. "My job is to keep everyone involved. That's what point guards do," Jackson said. "When we're out pushing the ball, that's when we're at our best. It's when I feel most comfortable.",1375,VCS_136_5179905,00.html
Jackson’s last-second shot pushes the Pioneers past Calabasas, 62-60
By Thomas Gase

LEADERWednesday’s hero, Pioneer senior guard Lorne Jackson, drives past Calabasas forward Shane Foster during game at Simi Valley High School. Next up for the team is a trip to San Diego for the Torrey Pines National Prep Classic. Even though Christmas is still three days away, basketball fans in Simi Valley received a real gift when they had the chance to watch a key early season Marmonte League match-up between the Pioneers and the Coyotes.

With the score locked at 60 with 12 seconds left in regulation, Simi Valley junior Lorne Jackson hit a jump shot from the top of the free throw line to put the Pioneers up by two. Simi Valley (8-2) wrapped up the win 62-60 when Calabasas’ senior forward Shane Foster narrowly missed a 3-point attempt to win the game as time expired. As is so often the case, the winning shot came on an undesigned play, Jackson said. “The play drawn up was originally for me to drive to the hole and then possibly kick it back out for a shot,” Jackson said. “I actually thought I missed it when I put up the shot.”

But he didn’t, and the Pioneers earned a big win heading into the winter break. “This game ranks right up there as one of the best for me,” Jackson said. “It was only the third time I’ve hit a game winning shot.” Jackson finished with 19 points; 15 of them coming in the second half. Simi Valley head coach Christian Aurand said he believes that if Jackson plays the way he did against the Coyotes, Simi Valley is in for a good season. “If the ball is in his hands there is always a chance for good things to happen,” Aurand said. “If it’s crunch time he is a good person to have the ball. He is very good at creating opportunities for us.” Though most teams in the Marmonte League don’t begin league play until early next year, the game offered a sneak peek at the probable future.

“The league is always like this,” Aurand said. “It is very competitive and the neat thing is that anyone can win on any given night. You can beat a team one game and then they can come back the next time and beat you. Obviously it’s good to be on the winning side like tonight.”
Other players that should help contribute to the Pioneers this season are seniors Brandon Simon and Tyler Ostrovsky as well as juniors Michael Meza and Spencer Feist. Simon registered 13 points against Calabasas while Meza showed that he will be an inside force by scoring 17 points, the majority of them coming in the paint. The team now travels to San Diego for the 58-team Torrey Pines National Prep Classic, where it will face off against toptier teams from eight different states. Included in the grouping are California powers Compton Centennial, Clovis West, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and Dominguez (Compton).

“I think it will be nice to travel and it will be good for the guys to live with each other for a little while, build some team camaraderie,” Aurand said. “This season is young but the group is already a fun one to hang out with. “We are a young team this year and also not that big in size. However, all we have to do is compete like we did tonight. If we do that we are going to be in every game and hopefully come out on the winning side.” Simi Valley plays in the Torrey Pines National Prep Classic Dec. 26 to 29.

Simi uses its hustle to topple Knight
By Loren Ledin, November 30, 2006

Even Simi Valley High boys' basketball coach Christian Aurand has to concede this much: His team won't scare any opponents during the pre-game warmups.
"We're not an "eye" team," he says. "We're not much to look at. But we're definitely going to work hard every night." If height and eye-popping athletes aren't in great supply, depth, hustle and a stalwart point guard are.

Lorne Jackson scored 32 points, and Simi Valley used its all-court hustle to rack up a 97-82 victory over Knight High in the quarterfinals of the Simi Valley Tipoff Classic at Simi Valley High on Wednesday night. Topping 90 points for the second consecutive night, Simi Valley rode its depth and full-court press to a 33-14 lead after one quarter, extended the margin to 56-36 by halftime and served notice to opponents that every game should test a team's collective stamina.

"We're basically going to keep coming at you," said Jackson, a junior point guard. "We'll play hard the whole game." With the victory, Simi Valley advances to Friday's semifinals of its own tournament. The opponent, beginning at 8 p.m., will be Valencia, which knocked off Royal 78-64 in another quarterfinal.
Simi Valley couldn't match the height of Lancaster-based Knight, which went 6-7, 6-7, 6-5 across the front line. Simi Valley can't match many teams in height, with 6-4 Michael Meza the tallest Pioneer.

Instead, Aurand has devised a game plan where his players check into a full-court, trapping defense the entire contest, thereby speeding up the tempo and affording an opponent scant time to settle into the game. "We'll keep working at it, and hopefully we'll get better and better at it," said Aurand. A deep bench helps, as it did Wednesday night.

Jackson led a list of nine Pioneers reaching the scoring column, with Meza collecting 21 points and Brandon Simon finishing with eight. The fast-paced style worked from the outset with Simi Valley busting out to a 23-14 lead, then scoring the final 10 points of the opening quarter to take a firm grip. It was a group effort too, with Grant Keller chipping in six points, including a 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining that upped the lead to 29-14. "It's a lot of fun," said Jackson. "Hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the season."

In Jackson, Simi Valley apparently has the steady hand to run the show. The junior scored inside, outside and was all but perfect at the free-throw line. In the second half, he was 13 of 14 from the line to quash any Knights thoughts of a rally. Lamonte Dewindt and Hassan Stephens led Knight with 15 points apiece.

Prep basketball: Jackson leads Simi Valley

Simi Valley's Lorne Jackson did just about whatever he wanted Wednesday, driving untouched through the lane for either a short pull-up jumper or a kickout pass to an open teammate. And there was very little Knight of Palmdale could do about it.
The junior point guard scored 15 of his 32 points in the first half in a 97-82 victory over the Hawks, sending the Pioneers to Friday's semifinal game of the Simi Valley Tournament against Valencia.

"I felt good from the beginning of the game," Jackson said. "It seemed the game was in slow motion at times tonight. They never found a way to stop me."
Simi Valley used a full-court press from the outset, forcing Knight to commit numerous turnovers that led to easy baskets and a 33-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Pioneers extended the advantage to 25 points midway through the second quarter after Jackson's layup.

The Hawks' Hassan Stephens answered with a one-handed dunk to provide a temporary spark, but Simi Valley still led 56-36 at intermission. Knight had no answer for the constant pressure in the second half and trailed by 18 points entering the fourth quarter. "Our press frustrated them tonight," Simi Valley coach Christian Aurand said. "We brought it for 32 minutes and they had no answer for us

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