Some things, such as Katella High School boys' basketball, never change.
All the traditional trappings of a big Empire League showdown were in place Friday night when El Dorado visited Knight gym.
The stands were filled with 2,000 noisy spectators.
And as usual, Knight Coach Tom Danley was hoarse from shouting before the game even started.
Knight players from the past 20 years came to reminisce about the good old days--when Danley used to run his practices all afternoon and into the night.
Meanwhile, his current crop of players were too busy diving for loose balls, and fighting for rebounds to notice the nostalgic homecoming.
And finally, as they have under similar circumstances so many times before, the Knights delivered the victory. Their 70-62 win leaves them alone in first at 7-1 and 15-3.
El Dorado, which had beaten the Knights in their first meeting and stayed closed until the last four minutes Friday, fell into a second-place tie with Los Alamitos at 6-2.
The Knight fans were at least as prepared for the game as either team.
A security guard even had to confiscate one packaged, dead fish from a spectator. That gesture was in honor of Orange County's second leading scorer, El Dorado's Jim Sammon, who averages 27 points a game. In the first half, some Knight fan should have concentrated on a gimmick for psyching out guard Dan Bailey, who had 20 points in the first half as the Golden Hawks took a 38-37 lead.
Much of the El Dorado scoring was done at the line, where the Golden Hawks made 8 of 10 free throws. You could say the Knights and their fans couldn't buy a free throw until later in the game. After Katella missed 3 of 4 free throws in the first half, three of the spectators had a chance to win $1,000 in a halftime contest and went 0-for-3.
The pace from the field was torrid in the first half, however, as the teams made 10 straight shots at one point. El Dorado shot 57% (15 of 26) and Katella shot 62% (18 of 29). The Knights were mainly effective inside, where forward Richard Lucas scored 12 points in the half and Bob Erbst had 10.
Everything slowed substantially in the third quarter when El Dorado made six points to the Knights' eight.
But Katella went on to outscore El Dorado, 25-18 in the fourth quarter. During the rally, Katella was led by Erbst at the line, and by guards Wayne Petrakis (who ended with 11 points), Steve Stierstorfer (8) and John Sunu (4) and Jim Anderson (10).
"We thought their guards were, well, not their weak point, but we knew they would have to play a good game for them to win," said Terry Conley, Golden Hawk coach. "Their guards beat us. They have improved a lot since we saw them."
Danley said the outcome was a matter of desire more than finesse.
"When it got to be nail biting time, we didn't, as you would say, swallow the olive.
"When all the chips were down, we wanted it a little more."
And then the ritual of a Katella game ended the way it always does, with Danley saying: "Our biggest foe is not the other team, it is ourselves. It is not who we play, it's how we play. We have the potential to be a very good high school basketball team, but we are not one yet. "
The more things change . . . .
Los Alamitos 59, Esperanza 57 (OT)--The Griffins (6-2, 12-5) won on a jumper by Gary Loe with two seconds left in overtime at Esperanza. The Aztecs (2-6, 6-10), who led 36-32 at halftime, received fine efforts from Mike Vincent with 19 points and Kirk Branstetter with 15. Los Alamitos guard J.T. Snow scored 18, and center Moe Warner added 15.
Kennedy 57, Cypress 51--The Fighting Irish (4-4, 8-9) continued fighting their way back into contention for a playoff berth as Dan Curry scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds to lead them to victory at Cypress. Kennedy's Mike Keith added 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Centurions (5-3, 10-9), playing without center Chris Yoxtheimer who is suffering from a sore leg, were led by Mike Cote with 18 points.
Pacifica 61, Loara 41--The Mariners won their second game of the league season at Loara with four players scoring in double figures. Ken Shelton scored 14 points, Scott McDowell had 12, and Garrett Bonham and Chris Brodowski had 11 for the Mariners (2-6). The Saxons (0-6) were led by Wade Clester with 14, and Gary Miller had 13 and Dean Storm had 12.