Mel Patterson didn't score a point in last weekend's Carson-Banning basketball game, but he had a pretty good night. Patterson, a well-known local referee, officiated most of the game alone after partner Simon Peters broke his wrist in the first quarter.
After the 60-58 Carson victory, Patterson received more congratulations than any of the players and, as he toweled off, said he was relieved the game hadn't gone into overtime.
Patterson, easily recognizable by his shaved pate, said, "If it ended in a draw it would have been all right with me. I've worked one-man games before, but a game like this--these two schools, the rivalry, everybody's pumped up, everybody's reaching, pushing--you've got to watch the ball, watch off the ball. It's a tough one. This game would have been tough with two (officials)."
At one point two players had a confrontation and Patterson told them he would brook no nonsense. The players shook hands and there were no further incidents. "I told the two kids if you don't shake hands this game's over," he said.
Patterson said he didn't try to be Superman. "I can only do what I can do. I can't see it all."
The busiest place in town last weekend had to be the Cal State Dominguez Hills gym, where games were run and crowds were shuttled in and out in near assembly-line rapidity.
Between Thursday and Saturday the Carson campus hosted two USC basketball games, two high school games and two of its own games.
USC's game Thursday against Washington--the Trojans are playing three games at Dominguez Hills when the Sports Arena is being used--drew what may be the first turnaway crowd in the gym's history. With more than 4,100 fans standing three-deep, USC radio broadcasters told people listening in their cars on the way to the game to turn around and head home. The crowd outdrew USC's normal Sports Arena crowd by a couple of thousand.
The gym was also pretty well packed Friday for the basketball season's first Carson-Banning game, and the fans were invited to stay for the following Dominguez Hills-Cal State Northridge game. Most didn't.
"It was nice to give our folks a sense of a full gym," Dominguez Hills Athletic Director Sue Carberry said.
Dominguez Hills has solid men's and women's programs but has failed to generate much following in the Carson area. USC, however, may have found a home away from home.
How can a coach tell when his team is ready to play? In Loyola Marymount's case, basketball Coach Ed Goorjian and at least one of his star players were happy to see a few fights break out between teammates in practice last week.
After beating Colorado, Goorjian said, "We had about three fistfights last week. It was nice." He jokingly added, "I started all three of them."
Star guard Keith Smith, who chewed out teammates during the game, elaborated: "After Montana (Loyola lost two games on a road trip there) everybody seemed like born-again basketball players. We played some lousy ball in Montana. I told the guys we gotta get nasty. We had a couple of fights in practice. I got a little uptight with a couple of the guys tonight. It's getting too close to conference to play passive. We're gonna play hard the rest of the way."