LOS ANGELES — Rest assured, the next time Dos Pueblos High School's basketball team finds itself in a championship game, the players won't be ordering pizza.
On the eve of the Southern California Regional Division III boys' basketball final, Dos Pueblos ordered pizza to be delivered to their hotel across the street from the Sports Arena. Some pizza firms promise they'll deliver within 30 minutes or you don't pay. This one took more than an hour and the result was: you don't play .
Five team members, including four starters, suffered from food poisoning following the impromptu pizza party and Dos Pueblos lost to Servite, 46-29, in the regional final Saturday.
Dos Pueblos' top player, center Chris Gaines, never came out for warm-ups and stayed in the locker room during the first half. Gaines, who averages 20 points per game, made a cameo appearance in the second half but the Chargers were already trailing by 13 points.
But it was obvious that Gaines was weak. He made three of 12 shots and had just three rebounds.
"It probably would have been better if I hadn't been out there," said Gaines afterward. "I was up all night after we ate the pizzas. I started getting sick about 1 a.m. I tried, but I wasn't all there. When I air-balled a three-pointer, I knew it was futile."
Chris Robinson, Dos Pueblos' team trainer, said he was awakened early Saturday at the team hotel by two sick players, Gaines and reserve Rich Hollowell.
"I didn't know if the kids had the flu, food poisoning or were just nervous before a big game," Robinson said. "I tried everything . . . Pepto-Bismol, ginger ale, 7 Up . . . to try and settle their stomachs. There's not a lot you can do about something like this."
Robinson said he treated three other starters--Adam Estabrook, Ken Ardouin and Tom Carr--Saturday morning and felt they responded well and were fit to play. But Robinson had paramedics check out Gaines before the game because the senior had not eaten.
"They checked my vital signs and then recommended that I shouldn't play," Gaines said. "I could hear the crowd and our manager was coming into the locker room giving me score updates in the first half. We had come so far, I had to try and play."
Gaines estimated that he played at 60% but wouldn't use his illness as an excuse for the loss.
"Servite was a better team today and they flat-out beat us," Gaines said. "It was a frustrating day for me, but give Servite the credit."
Dos Pueblos finished tied for fourth in the Channel League, but gained a playoff berth as an at-large team. Eric Burkhardt, Dos Pueblos coach, said his team faced one too many obstacles in the regional final.
"We battled adversity all year," he said. "We battled and battled. But today we faced a double whammy: pizza and the Servite Friars."