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Previewing Central Valley
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Members of the Central Valley High JV boys basketball team followed coach Darryl Dickson into the locker room after defeating Delhi 47-30 in a scrimmage on Nov. 21 in Ceres.

Dickson & Co. emerged several minutes later from the private meeting. They shared their thoughts on the upcoming season.

“I know that we'll be competitive and we'll win some games,” Dickson said. “A good goal for this year is to play .500 ball. I'd be satisfied if we did that.”

Yama Noorzai, Central Valley High's 3-point specialist, has loftier expectations.

“We're going to be good,” he said. “If we lose, it ain't going to be that many. We'll finish at the top of the league.”

Dickson will lean heavily on Noorzai, Sean McLeod, Tony Marques, Trevor Mew and Gerald Garcia. Antonio Cervantes, Ernesto Plancarte, Isaac Plaster, Freddy Rodriguez, Noel Valencia, Stephen Fonsworth and Chris Beleele round out Central Valley's roster. Mcleod, Marques, Mew, Garcia, Rodriguez and Valencia led the JV Hawks football team to a league championship during the fall sports season.

“Our starting five is pretty strong,” Dickson said.

Central Valley's offense will revolve around McLeod, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound center, who will draw double and triple coverage. He'll contribute in a variety of ways, including scoring, rebounding and shot blocking.

“We're going to go as far as Sean takes us,” Dickson said. “He's going to open everything up.”

Added Noorzai: “We can dump it into Sean all day. Nobody can stop him.”

Tony Marques, 6-foot-1, 190-pound power forward, is mentally and physically strong. He'll do all of the dirty work.

“Tony really hustles and gets all over the floor,” Dickson said. “That's what we need from him. His role is going to be to rebound and play aggressive defense.”

Mew, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound small forward, is just a freshman.

“He has the whole package,” Dickson said. “Mentally, he's far more mature than his age. He understands the game. He knows what to look for and what to run. He's going to be a solid player.”

Noorzai's main position is shooting guard. He can also play point guard and small and power forward, which means he's capable of scoring inside too.

“He gives us a lot of options,” Dickson said.

Garcia, a 5-foot-7, 135-pound point guard, provides speed and toughness. He also has a strong will. Garcia was a force in football despite his diminutive stature. He was a reliable receiver and defensive back, and dangerous kickoff and punt returner.

“Athletically, he's great,” Dickson said. “But he's raw.”

Central Valley has a 14-game league schedule. The Hawks will face the Sierra Timberwolves, East Union Lancers, Oakdale Mustangs, Weston Ranch Cougars, Sonora Wildcats, Manteca Buffaloes and Buhach Colony Thunder twice. They open Valley Oak League play against Sierra on Jan. 4 at 7:15 p.m.

Central Valley should be fun to watch this season. Dickson implemented a system, which is similar to the men's program at Duke University.

“Motion offense. Backscreens,” he said. “It's a game based in smarts more than athleticism. We're going to outthink our opponents the entire 40 minutes of the game.”

Dickson was hired to start a boys basketball program at Ceres Unified's second high school in April.

He coached previously at Mae Hensley Jr. High. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier