By Tom Saxe
The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference has selected Southwestern College soccer player Sebastian Ortiz and San Diego Mesa basketball player Novian Cherry as Men’s Athletes of the Week for the week that ended Sunday.
Ortiz, a workhorse freshman goalkeeper from Eastlake High School who has recorded 66 saves with a 1.4595 goals-against average while playing 1,665 minutes, helped boost the PCAC championship- bound Jaguars to two wins and a tie last week. Ortiz had six saves in 90 minutes in a 1-1 tie with San Diego City College. He came back with four saves in 90 minutes in a 4-1 win vs. Imperial Valley and five saves in 90 minutes in a 3-2 victory over Mesa.
Cherry, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Morse High School, was named to the all-tournament team at the Don Johnson Classic at Cypress College after leading the Olympians to three straight wins. Cherry had 28 points and seven rebounds in a 92-86 win over host Cypress to open the tournament as retired Cypress coach and UCLA Hall of Famer Don Johnson, who was honored before the game, looked on. Johnson, a unanimous All-American under John Wooden in 1952 and the winningest men’s basketball coach in California community college history, developed 7-foot-plus centers Swen Nater and Mark Eaton at Cypress and sent them on to star for Wooden at UCLA and then in the NBA. The following night, Cherry came back to score 27 points in an 86-69 loss to last season’s state tournament runner-up Chaffey in a semifinal game. He finished a spectacular weekend by scoring 17 points in a 70-69 win over Los Angeles Harbor in the consolation championship game.
Honorable mention went to Mt. San Jacinto basketball player Dwayne Benjamin and Grossmont water polo player Garison Covel.
Benjamin, a 6-foot-7 sophomore guard from Northside High School in Layfayette, LA who signed with Oregon on Tuesday, scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 79-67 loss to Antelope Valley to beginb the We Play Hard Tournament at Ventura College. Benjamin came back with 27 points and five rebounds as the Eagles downed Moorpark 70-62 in the consolation semifinals. He finished the tournament with 21 points, nine boards and five assists as Mt. San Jacinto defeated Palomar 84-66 in the consolation championship game.
Covel, a sophomore goalie from Palm Desert High School, helped lead state No. 9-ranked Grossmont to a 15-7 victory over Mesa at San Diego Miramar College’s Ned Baumer Aquatic Center to win both the PCAC Tournament and the conference title. Covel had 13 saves against the Olympians and has 191 saves on the season.