Louis Bilowitz did not want his La Canada High boys' soccer team to feel too cozy in the semi-formal attire they wore last Tuesday, the day of its Southern Section 1-A playoff match against Agoura.
The coach reasoned that ties around his players necks were akin to strings around their fingers.
"Every time they looked at their tie and felt a little uncomfortable, or saw a teammate dressed up, it would trigger the thought that this was the most important game of their lives," Bilowitz said.
The strategy worked as La Canada (19-2-2) defeated heavily-favored Agoura in double overtime, 2-1. The Spartans went on to win the Southern Section 1-A title at Gahr High on Saturday, defeating Hemet, also in double overtime, 1-0.
Traditionally, overtime matches have not favored La Canada. Last season, the Spartans lost in overtime in the quarterfinals to Pacifica, 3-2.
Bilowitz says the Chargers were La Canada's toughest opponent. "(Agoura) was the finest team that my team has played in the two years that I've been here," he said.
Bilowitz adds that, were it not for the play of Hemet goalkeeper Christian Johnson, La Canada could have won handily.
"We would have won that game, 5-0, if he were a normal goalkeeper," Bilowitz said of Johnson. "He's incredible. He made four or five saves that I've never seen a goalkeeper make and we were all over the goal."
Spartan fullback Jensen Jaraba was no slouch on defense, either. He was assigned to shadow Eric Chaisongkram, Hemet's leading scorer.
"The fellow touched the ball very rarely and when he did, Jensen was all over him," Bilowitz said. "He was a brilliant player but I don't think he ever met a defender like Jensen."
Add La Canada: David Quesada, Ross Allan, Dan Hilbert, Brian Christensen and Jaraba of La Canada all were selected first-team All-Rio Hondo League. Fullback Gavin Mealiffe received second-team honors.
Back-to-back?: Marshall High girls' basketball Coach Wendy Triplett allowed herself all of three days to relish the Barristers' first City Section 3-A Division championship, which her team claimed by defeating Roosevelt, 56-48, at the Sports Arena last Friday.
Triplett, who took over for Beth Ercek this season, is already plotting an encore. "I really feel we have a pretty good chance of repeating next year," she said Tuesday.
And Triplett's estimation might not be far fetched. Marshall (18-3 after losing Tuesday to Morningside in the state tournament) loses center Rena Winter, a 1988 All-City selection who received Northern League most valuable player honors last season.
But Winter's averaged only seven points a game this season. Point guard Denise Wong also will be lost to graduation.
Junior Laura Oki, who averaged a team-high 14.3 points a game, will probably replace Wong at point guard next season.
Also returning are forward Lisa Khuu, who paced the Barristers with 17 points in the City final, forward Tina Chimarios (13 points a game) and reserve Tara Walker.
Roughhousers: The Oxy Olde Boys' Rugby Club, composed of 45 Occidental College Alumni, won the Division II Northern Section championship last Saturday by defeating the Santa Barbara Rugby Club, 20-6.
The Southern California Rugby Football Union Division II comprises 14 teams--seven Northern Section teams, seven Southern--most of which are sponsored by local colleges and universities.
In the Division II semifinals, Occidental (16-8, 8-1) will play host to the Fullerton Bucks at noon Saturday and the Old Aztecs, of San Diego State, will play host to Santa Barbara.
Since the Tiger alumni team was sanctioned in 1982, Occidental has won the Division III title once and the Division II championship twice.
The SCRFU finals will be played March 26 in the Rose Bowl.
Welcome back: Los Angeles City College men's basketball Coach Reggie Morris felt the best way to revive the program, which was dropped in 1985 because of budget cuts, was to install the high-octane offensive scheme he relied on in his 11 seasons at Manuel Arts High.
The Cubs (22-10, 13-1) won the Southern California Conference title and led the state in scoring (101 points a game), but fell to top-seeded Santa Monica, 87-78, in the third round of the Southern California regional playoffs last Saturday.
The Cubs were led by Southern California Conference Most Valuable Player Chris Small, who averaged 20.2 points and a conference-leading 6.5 assists a game. Small also led the conference with a .829 free-throw percentage.
Forward Marcus Nash averaged 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds, Develle Walker averaged 17 points and 3.5 steals and Thurman Watson added 15.3 points and a conference-leading 3.6 steals.
Nash, Walker and Small were named to the all-conference team.
Morris says L. A. City's up-tempo play might cause other conference coaches to revise their game plans.
"(Other teams) weren't really ready for the style that we played," Morris said. "They weren't ready to accept the speed and intensity we brought. Conditioning became a factor.