Defending their turf

Coyotes have won two straight Marmonte League championships



BACK TO THE FUTURE—Head coach Jon Palarz, after one season at Chaminade, is back at Calabasas. Palarz, in his ninth year at CHS, led the Coyotes to CIF-Southern Section championships in 2012 and 2014.

BACK TO THE FUTURE—Head coach Jon Palarz, after one season at Chaminade, is back at Calabasas. Palarz, in his ninth year at CHS, led the Coyotes to CIF-Southern Section championships in 2012 and 2014.

Deen Favaedi is the Draymond Green of Mulholland Highway, minus the drama.

Favaedi, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound senior, thrives at point forward for the Calabasas High boys’ basketball team. He leads the team in rebounds (75), assists (43) and steals (21) for the Coyotes, who are 8-2 overall.

He’s not an outlier. The Coyote roster is stockpiled with selfless basketball players.

“MAKE EM SAY UHH!”—Calabasas freshman Hercy Miller, who averages 8.5 points per game, is the son of hip-hop mogul Master P.

“MAKE EM SAY UHH!”—Calabasas freshman Hercy Miller, who averages 8.5 points per game, is the son of hip-hop mogul Master P.

“We don’t have any stars,” said Blake Fisher, a senior small forward. “We’re always out there playing together. It’s always a team effort, especially with this team, and that’s why we’re winning games.”

Max Cheylov, a junior point guard, pours in 18.1 points per game, but he’s taking quality shots. Evan McKay (11.7 points per game) and Ben Kaslow (11.3) score in double figures, while Hercy Miller (8.5) and Fisher (8.0) are right behind them. Miller, a freshman combo guard, is the son of rapper Master P.

SMOOTH OPERATOR—Ben Kaslow, a senior center, makes a layup during Calabasas High boys’ basketball practice earlier this week. Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

SMOOTH OPERATOR—Ben Kaslow, a senior center, makes a layup during Calabasas High boys’ basketball practice earlier this week. Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

Head coach Jon Palarz, who spent last year at Chaminade, is roaming the sidelines again for Calabasas. This is his ninth season overall leading the Coyotes.

The defending Marmonte League champs haven’t missed a beat with Palarz, who is also the school’s athletic director. The only two losses are single-digit setbacks to Crespi and Alemany.

“He’s a player’s coach,” Favaedi said of Palarz. “He gets on us sometimes, but he gets on us for the right reasons. He wants to make everyone better.”

Favaedi, like many teammates, is playing the best basketball of his prep career.

He’s an improved passer and rebounder. He’s managed to cut down on turnovers while playing more aggressively. He’s first on the team in plus/minus at plus-130 through 10 games. He hit the decisive free throw in Calabasas’69-66 win against Camarillo on Dec. 11.

The Coyote offense hums like Zev Love X in “Humrush,” but clamping down in the clutch on the other end of the floor has been instrumental during the fast start, the senior said.

“We’re really good on defense in close games,” Favaedi said. “We force teams into bad shots. We’re making free throws, and we don’t really turn the ball over that much.”

Favaedi, an honors student with a 4.1 grade-point average, played varsity basketball last year with his brother Zach, who graduated in the spring. Deen and Zach Favaedi started the Hoops for Dreams foundation, which raised $3,000 during a three-on-three tournament last year. The money enabled 10 youngsters from innercity schools to attend the Canyon Creek summer sports camp.

Fisher, who is 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, takes pride in his defense and perimeter shooting. He’s shooting 54 percent from the field, and he’s made a sensational 72 percent of all shots within the 3-point arc. He embraces his role on the hardwood.

“We all have good roles on this team,” said Fisher, who sports a 3.6 GPA. “We all chip in. We always want to play better with each other.”

He’s active in the Cookies for Cancer club with his twin sister, Hayley, who is president of the club. His brother, Jared, a 2014 Calabasas grad, also played basketball with the Coyotes.

Kaslow is a soft- spoken 6-foot-5, 205-pound center who excels at finishing in the paint and draining buckets from long distance. He’s shooting 51 percent from the field, and he’s rejected a team-high 11 shots. He’s embraced his expanded role.

“ Ben Kaslow has really stepped up,” Palarz said. “He’s a well-rounded player.”

Kaslow scored a career-high 27 points during an 89-72 Calabasas win against Crescenta Valley on Dec. 9.

“We’ve been getting better,” Kaslow said. “We need to keep staying on the path.”

The center is excited about every Marmonte game, but he’s looking forward to playing Thousand Oaks on the road, and both outings against Agoura. Calabasas survived in overtime in two wins against Agoura last season.

“We have to make sure we beat Agoura,” said Kaslow, an honors student with a 3.8 GPA. “Even though we’re favorites, it’s always close. It’s a battle. Last year, both games were super close. It was pretty stressful.”

Kaslow’s older brother Arthur plays football at Dartmouth; his younger brother Jonathan is a sophomore forward on Calabasas’ junior varsity basketball team.

Cheylov, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound junior, has always been a natural scorer. He’s become a more complete player this winter. He’s a strong on-ball defender who leads the team in 3-pointers made (18), 3-point shooting percentage (39.1 percent) and free-throw percentage (84 percent). He keeps the ball moving, but he also knows when to take over.

He scored 24 second-half points against Camarillo.

“He took us on his back that day,” Palarz said of Cheylov.

Cheylov said the Coyotes are doing many things well during the fast start.

“We’re rebounding and sharing the ball and talking on defense,” Cheylov said. “Everyone’s passing up good shots for better shots.”

Cheylov has bounced back with a vengeance after breaking his hand in the first half of the team’s second league game against Oaks Christian last winter. The Coyote somehow played the rest of the game, but he had to miss the rest of the season.

“I was so mad. I was so depressed for a couple days,” Cheylov said. “I had to bounce back and start rehabbing.”

He’s healthy and playing great basketball. The Acorn will throw his name into the conversation for Marmonte MVP.

“I feel great—better than ever,” Cheylov said.

A straight-A student, Cheylov comes from a family of artists. His mother, Lori Lansens, is a New York Times best-selling author who has written four books. His father, Milan Cheylov, is a television director whose credits include “Scorpion,” “Rosewood,” “Prison Break” and “24.” His sister, Natasha, 15, enjoys painting and drawing.

McKay, a junior wing, has excelled in his first varsity season while earning a starting gig. The Coyote scored 22 points against Alemany.

Miller is a dynamic sixth man who can score in flurries.

“He’s very athletic,” the coach said of Miller. “He has a very bright future.”

Evan Haber is a sophomore to watch. The forward leads the team in rebounds per minute off the bench. He’s a smart and tough player who held his own defending Camarillo superstar Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Jack Hanley and Kyle Braun are sophomore combo guards who provide solid depth off the pine.

Andrew Treiger, a junior guard, is a knockdown 3-point shooter.

Andrew Snyder, a junior, is a crafty, left-handed guard.

Jake Fleishman, a senior forward, is a positive teammate with an unselfish attitude, the coach said.

Shemar Carter, a junior forward, moved to Calabasas from Culver City.

Calabasas, ranked No. 8 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA poll, is ready for the Marmonte gauntlet. The Coyotes open league on Jan. 8 against Newbury Park at home.

“We have to treat every game like a big deal,” Cheylov said. “Everyone’s going to give us their best game.”

The Coyotes in a nutshell

Head coach
• Jon Palarz (ninth season)
Starting lineup
• Max Cheylov, junior, PG
• Evan McKay, junior, W
• Blake Fisher, senior, SF
• Deen Favaedi, senior, G/F
• Ben Kaslow, senior, C
Bench mob
• Evan Haber
• Hercy Miller
• Jack Hanley
• Andrew Treiger
• Kyle Braun
• Shemar Carter
• Andrew Snyder
• Jake Fleishman
Top 3-point shooter
• Max Cheylov
Stealth defenders
• Blake Fisher
• Deen Favaedi
Newcomers to watch
• Hercy Miller
• Evan McKay
• Evan Haber
Next game
• Calabasas vs. San Marcos, 6 p.m. Friday at CHS