Dick Stricklin, Golden West women's basketball coach, didn't try to downplay his team's potential at the start of the season.
He said the team could be better than last season's team, which was 32-2 and undefeated in the South Coast Conference (14-0). Golden West lost to American River in the semifinal round of the state tournament.
Stricklin's optimism might have been tested early, when Golden West lost the second game of the season, 72-65, to Los Angeles Valley. But it turned out he was right all along.
Since the loss, Golden West (22-1 overall and 6-0 in conference) has 20 straight victories and is the state's top-ranked team.
The Rustlers are averaging 91 points a game and allowing only 63. Only the 1979 team that went 30-0 and won the state title averaged more points a game (95).
This season 5 of Golden West's 12 players average 10 points or more in conference games. Last season, there were only eight players on the roster and seven that made it to all the games.
Kathy Werth leads the team with an 18-point average. Jeannine Battaglia is averaging 17, Stephanie Swanson 12, Kim Takayama 11 and Shawna Armstrong 10.
Six players have led the team in scoring in games this season.
"That's been the nice thing about this team," Stricklin said. "It seems like it's been someone different each time. Last season, if someone was not getting it done someone on the court had to pick them up. This season we can go to the bench."
Golden West plays host to Fullerton (19-5, 5-1) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the final game of the first round of the conference.
"It's an important game for us," Stricklin said. "We have to go to Fullerton and Cerritos in the second round so we could use a two-game lead."
Definite E Ticket. The Fullerton men's basketball team has, at times, been impressive this season. Fullerton defeated El Camino, the state's second-ranked team, last Wednesday, 86-80, and has moved into eighth place in the Southern California poll.
Fullerton (14-8, 4-2) has four straight victories and is only a game behind El Camino (21-2, 5-1), which leads the South Coast Conference. But even the victory over El Camino was a wild ride. Fullerton led by 14 with close to seven minutes left only to see the lead cut to two with two minutes left.
Fullerton played the last four minutes with one guard, Roy Joseph, who was playing with four fouls. Kellie McKinney, the other guard, had already fouled out. Center Kevin Patrick also played the final five minutes with four fouls.
"If Roy Joseph picked up his fifth foul someone would have had to play guard that hadn't played in a long time and that would have made the game even more interesting," said Roger See, Fullerton coach.
Fullerton had reached its season low less than a month before in the Rancho Santiago tournament. Fullerton lost to the Tustin Marine team, 75-71. The Marine team, which seldom gets to practice, was beaten by Saddleback, 90-62, two nights before.
The best example of Fullerton's inconsistent play was in three games against Rancho Santiago. Fullerton opened the season with an 89-88 victory over Rancho Santiago at Fullerton. Then in the Grossmont tournament, Rancho Santiago defeated Fullerton, 90-60. But in the Cypress tournament, Fullerton defeated Rancho Santiago, 79-57.
Golden West (12-11, 2-4) plays at Fullerton Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Cypress men's team wasn't one of the better free-throw shooting teams around during the nonconference season. Cypress was shooting 67% (346 of 514).
But Cypress (20-5, 3-0) has done much better in conference, shooting 80% (68 of 85). Cypress was 31 of 40 from the line in its 88-78 victory over Rancho Santiago last Saturday.
Cypress plays Saddleback (15-6, 3-0) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Barrie Dafforn of Golden West has accepted a volleyball scholarship at Nevada Reno, Coach Al Gasparian said Monday. Dafforn, a setter, was the South Coast Conference most valuable player and a first-team all-state and first-team all-American selection this season. Golden West finished third in the state tournament.
Dafforn went to Los Alamitos High School and was an all-Empire League outside hitter as a senior in 1985. She was also an all-conference and all-state outside hitter in 1986 for Golden West. She was moved to setter last season by Gasparian. She leaves for Reno Thursday and will attend the spring semester, which starts Monday.
Community College Notes
Kevin Clancy, a starting outfielder on the 1986 Esperanza baseball team that won the 4-A Southern Section championship, will play at Cypress this season. Clancy played at San Diego State last season. Rich Lodding, who pitched for the 1986 Western High School team that lost in the 3-A Southern Section championship game to Rio Mesa, is also at Cypress. Lodding had accepted a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton last season but redshirted. . . . Donald Ocana, who coached track and field at Valencia and Edison high schools, will be a walk-on assistant at Fullerton.