So the Travelin' Trojans hit the road again. They landed about a mile away from the high school at the Girls' Club and Boys' Club of Chula Vista where the floor was of regulation size. But . . . .
"We have to use portable baskets," Partch said.
The baskets are like those someone would buy at K-Mart and erect in their back yard. They include a square metal stand, a pole and an unstable, fan-shaped backboard. And there are only two of them.
"Again, a very difficult situation that we only have two baskets to work with," Partch said. "Coaching, I use six baskets when I have 12 people."
One stipulation for using the club was that the team had to buy the portable baskets and allow the club full use. The players start practice by setting them up.
"We've had the baskets lowered when we come in sometimes. They are down to nine feet and we don't have an Allen wrench and we can't adjust them and there is nobody there to adjust them for us," Partch said. "One is stripped, and it moves around when you hit it. We've had two kids turn ankles landing on the standards, and one kid hit the pole in midair. Both the kids and myself are very apprehensive. We can't really go all out in any type of scrimmage situation when we get too close to that standard."
The team struggled to a 4-7 start, trying to run itself into shape. Its "neutral site" homes had become Chula Vista High and Montgomery High. The Travelin' Trojans played six games at each.
"The biggest difficulty I think for our team is not having the opportunity to practice in a regulation gym" Partch said. "The kids have believed, given the opportunity to get themselves into shape, they could survive the rough times, that we would at least in January know what we were made of. Find out if we were good, bad, average or whatever. The kids have responded really well. I'm really proud of them."
The Trojans have not lost since they were 4-7, but setbacks have continued in the gym reconstruction.
"They had promised me Jan. 1," Partch said. "That was the first day. Then Jan. 15, then, 'Hey, no problem, we'll get you in the last week in January.' Well, then it will be Feb. 3, then the water problem (rain leaked through the roof on a small section, causing a delay), 'Oh, Feb. 10.' The poor kids. I told them the first couple times, then I didn't tell them anymore. 'Hey, when I know something, I'll let you know.' I saw the faces. You can't hide disappointment when you work as hard as they have, hoping. It's like a little flicker of a candle now."
Said Stanton: "We try to stay optimistic about it. That's all we can do."
Up until last Wednesday, Partch believed the gym would be ready for the team's last regular-season game Feb. 17. Wednesday, he was told the gym would not be ready until Feb. 19. Partch hopes for a home-court playoff game, at least in the first round. But Castle Park is in Division II, probably the most balanced, top to bottom, in the county.
"It hurts not to have it," Partch said. "We try not to dwell upon it. Hopefully in the playoffs."
Since both the boys and girls' teams were league champions, Partch hopes for a playoff double header at Castle Park. The Travelin' Trojans then could finally travel home.
"I'm not sure if that would be a home court or still a neutral court," Partch said.