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Servite Coach Walker to Take a Year Off for Health Reasons

March 11, 1987|TOM HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

Larry Walker, Servite High School's highly successful and sometimes controversial basketball coach for 17 seasons, has relinquished his position for one season because of health problems, according to Father Charles Motsko, Servite principal.

Walker is expected to return to the team for the 1988-89 season, and assistants Tom Hamilton and John Walker will coach the team next season, Motsko said.

Walker became the Friars' coach in 1970 and led Servite to five Angelus League titles and 13 Southern Section playoff berths. He had a 295-149 record and was named the league's coach of the year six times.

Servite had its best season in 1972-73. The Friars were 25-4 behind the play of forward Mark Campanaro and freshman guard Dennis Smith.

Servite was involved in controversy that season over the transfer of Smith from Bolsa Grande High. The Southern Section's general council ruled Smith eligible to compete but reproved Servite's administration for its handling of Smith's enrollment.

Through the years, Walker coached some of the top players in Orange County, including professional athletes Turk Schonert, Mike Witt and Steve Buechele and college stars John Seymour, Steve Beuerlein, Scott and Jeff Sinek and Steve Krallman.

But Walker also has had his share of defectors. In the summer of 1984, seven players, including four potential starters, left the program.

Despite some players' discontent, Walker got results. He orchestrated one of the biggest upsets in Southern Section playoff history when Servite beat top-ranked Edison, 58-54, in the quarterfinals of the 4-A division in 1982.

One of Walker's most publicized and controversial acts occurred the same season in a one-sided loss to Bishop Amat.

With about five minutes left in the game, Walker and assistant Larry Toner stopped coaching, moved to the far end of the bench and sat in silence. Senior forward Murray Joslin directed the team for the remainder of the game.

The new co-coaches are inexperienced on the varsity level. Walker, who serves as a counselor at Servite, coached the Friars' freshman team this season. Hamilton was the Friars' sophomore coach for three seasons and served as Walker's assistant the past two years.

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