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Long Beach Basketball History

March 12, 1987

Cal State Long Beach women's basketball Coach Joan Bonvicini has had a meteoric career with the 49ers. Her team is fourth-ranked nationally and she has posted 215 wins in eight seasons as head coach. She is eighth on the list of all-time basketball coaching victories in the city of Long Beach, and the first women to move onto the list. Below is The Times' list of victories posted on the varsity level by coaches at a city high school or college. Coach, School: Victories Bill Fraser, Wilson HS/Long Beach CC: 462

Fraser began his career in 1958 as a junior varsity basketball and track coach at Wilson High. He was 143-98 and won two Moore League titles as the Bruins' varsity coach. Since 1973 at Long Beach CC he has won 319 games. He has won more games at the college than any coach in its history. Although the Vikings were 16-15 this season (his worst record), Fraser has averaged 23 wins a year. Charlie Church, Poly HS/Long Beach CC: 392

A local legend, Church began his career as the "B" coach at Poly. He became head basketball coach in 1931. He won three Southern Section titles. His total number of wins would have been much greater had it not been for World War II. He spent four seasons in the Army as a coach and soldier. During that time he lost just one game. His armed forces basketball teams were considered good enough to have beaten some of the top college teams in that decade. He returned to Poly in 1948. He had a 203-60 mark on the high school level. At Long Beach CC, he compiled a 235-108 mark in 10 years. That record stood for 34 years, before Fraser passed him in 1985. Jack Errion, St. Anthony HS: 319

Recently retired as the coach at Corona del Mar High, Errion was at St. Anthony High for 22 seasons. Although teams he coached there averaged only 14.5 wins a year, the Saints were known as a strong basketball school under his tutelage, which began in 1954. The Saints never won a Southern Section title while he was there, but Errion captured two 3-A titles at Corona del Mar. In 32 years as a head coach, Errion managed 518 wins. Howard Lyon, Avalon/Poly/Millikan HS: 296

Now co-coach at Biola University, Lyon took Millikan High to the Southern Section 4-A basketball title in 1970. He spent 15 seasons in the Long Beach district and is now in his 33rd season as a coach. At Biola, he is expected to obtain his 700th career win sometime in 1988. Ron Palmer, Poly HS/CS Long Beach: 294

The recently resigned coach of the 49ers racked up 271 wins in 10 seasons at Poly. That included four Southern Section 4-A titles. He was 23-64 in three seasons on the college level. He has lost 115 games. Palmer would like to return to coaching somewhere in the city. Ben Palmgren, Jordan HS: 274

He spent 19 seasons at Jordan. Palmgren began his career in 1946 and coached in 485 games. Teams he coached never made it to the Southern Section finals. Current Panther Athletic Director Bob Cook was one of his players. Bill Odell, Millikan HS: 257

Odell directed the Rams to the Southern Section 5-A championship game last week, where they lost to top-ranked Mater Dei, 53-52. It was the second time he has taken Millikan to the final game. He has lost 151 games. Joan Bonvicini, CS Long Beach: 215

The women's coach has been at the school for eight seasons. Her team takes a 30-2 record into Friday night's NCAA West Regional playoff game. She has lost just 42 games. The 49ers are ranked fourth in the nation. Will Foerster, Poly HS: 192

Foerster followed Bill Mulligan at Poly in the 1964-65 season and immediately won the Southern Section 4-A title. Poly was a runner-up the following year. Foerster lost 67 games at Poly before transferring out of the city to Lakewood High. He had a record of 73-79 with the Lancers before retiring in 1979. Del Walker, Poly: 153

Although he is more well known to long-time Long Beach residents for his golfing accomplishments, Walker went 153-66 as a basketball coach. In 1956 he won the Southern Section 4-A title. Later Walker became the golf coach and athletic director at Long Beach CC. He retired from the district in 1974. He is now the golf coach at Cal State Long Beach. Bill Mulligan, Poly: 150

The flamboyant coach at UC Irvine won a Southern Section 4-A title with the Jackrabbits in 1964. The following year he took an assistant position at USC. Later he coached at Riverside City College where he won five Mission Conference titles. He moved to Saddleback College in 1975, where he compiled a 136-31 record and won four more Mission Conference titles. He is 119-83 at UCI. Jerry Tarkanian, CS Long Beach: 122

After seven years at Pasadena City College "Tark" put Cal State Long Beach on the map. From 1968-73 the 49ers averaged more than 24 wins a year. He lost only 20 games at the school. He leads the nation's active coaches in number of career wins. He has won 476 games in his college coaching career. His top-ranked Nevada Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels (33-1) play Idaho State in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional.

SOURCES-- First Interstate Bank Athletic Foundation, Southern Section, Cal State Long Beach, Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., Jordan High School, Biola University, Times reports.

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