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Family affair

January 16, 2001

Tony Altobelli

The question was laid out there for Kevin Candelaria to answer. If

everything was equal in terms of size and strength between him and his

sister, Debbie, who would win in a one-on-one basketball game?

"I think she could take me," Kevin said. "She's got a nice, little

jumper."

Then, after a second to think about it ...

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"Nah, actually, I'd blow her doors off."

Spoken like a true big brother.

Kevin Candelaria is a 23-year-old senior on the Vanguard University

men's basketball team, while Debbie, a 20-year-old sophomore, plays on

the women's team. It seems that the two have been inseparable as far back

as they can remember.

"When we were in high school and she was a freshman and I was a

senior, she was always hanging out with me and my friends," Kevin said.

"Living together, going to school together, playing sports together, we

were pretty tight growing up. Oh, once in a while I'd get mad and explode

on her, but nothing too major. Just your normal brother-sister thing."

Kevin, born and raised in northern Arizona, has been away from the

house for a number of years now, so the opportunity to have family close

by is welcomed.

"It's been great having her down here with me," Kevin said. "Having

family around is always a nice thing."

Kevin and Debbie are the second and third of four Candelaria children,

squeezed in between Brian, 25, and Joe, a sophomore at Page High in

Arizona. The Candelaria family is based out of Page Ariz., population,

10,000.

"All the kids grew up around sports," Kevin said. "Our dad has always

stressed to us God, family, school and athletics, in that order. We've

all always been a very close family."

After a stint at Mesa Community College, Kevin came to Vanguard and

played baseball for the Lions, twice earning All-Golden State Athletic

Conference honors as an outfielder, third baseman and catcher. In his

two-year baseball career, he hit .330 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Still with one year of school work to complete, Kevin looked toward

another sport to wrap up his VU career.

"I had heard about having a fifth year of eligibility with a second

sport," he said. "I had made a lot of friends with the guys on the team

and they encouraged me to give it a try for this year. I also spent a lot

of time with Assistant Coach Justin McIntee (a Newport Harbor High

product) and he helped me get into basketball shape."

So far, so good for the slugger turned hoopster. Kevin is averaging

seven points and six rebounds per game for the Lions, while his play

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