Like many people do during the colder months, the Occidental women's basketball team recently retreated to a remote island.
The Tigers, however, said aloha to Sitka, Alaska, an island in the southeast part of the state that is home to Sheldon Jackson College, an NAIA school with an enrollment of about 300.
Occidental was originally scheduled to play three games in Alaska, but two of the schools dropped their entire athletic programs because of budget problems so the Tigers played Sheldon Jackson twice.
Occidental lost, 100-80, and, 104-79, but Tiger Coach Sue Semarau said the trip was well worth the effort.
"The snow, mountains and water were beautiful and the team got a lot of attention while we were in town, which had no traffic lights," Semarau said. "We lost the games but I think the experience will help us later in the season."
Here we come '91: The Occidental men's basketball team hopes to ring in the New Year with a victory when the Tigers take on Carthage College (Wis.) on Dec. 31 at Rush Gymnasium.
Occidental, which lost to Southern California College, 99-81, Monday, is 2-4 and will play host to UC Santa Cruz on Friday.
The Tigers figure to be helped by the return of 6-6 junior forward Sandy Brown, a transfer from Cal State Northridge. Brown, who suffered a broken finger before the season opener saw his first action on Monday.
Freshman guard Ryan Kombrink and freshman forward Blair Slattery have been playing well, averaging 11.2 and 10.3 points a game, respectively.
Committing: Glendale College fullback Wes Bender this week made a verbal commitment to attend USC, according to Glendale assistant Coach Jim Sartoris, and is one of six Vaqueros who have decided where they will conclude their collegiate careers.
Bender rushed for 996 yards and scored four touchdowns this season.
Wide receiver David Nottoli committed to Pittsburgh and wide receiver Cotie McMahon and tight end Greg Thompson commited to Utah State. Offensive lineman Keith Moffat will attend San Jose State and defensive lineman Keith Poche signed with Northern Arizona.
Linebacker Lolesio Takapu is scheduled to visit New Mexico State. Offensive linemen Travis Peterson and Mike Gardner will make a trip to San Jose State.
Kicker Martin Boskovich will visit Pacific.
Honor roll: Froylan Sanchez of St. Francis was named to the boys' Southern Section Division III cross-country team and Sarah Dien and Carlene Pengra of La Canada were selected to the Division III girls' team.
Sanchez was the only runner from the San Fernando League who made the Southern Section team.
Putting the past in the future: The Hoover boys' basketball team has dedicated the season in memory of a player and an assistant coach that passed away within a two-month span this summer.
Rudy Gonzalez, who would have been a senior this season, drowned in July and Kevin Ayers, who joined the Hoover staff as a varsity assistant and freshman coach last season, suffered a heart attack in September.
The team has been wearing black armbands as a tribute to Gonzalez and Ayers.
"They're the reason we're playing," Coach Kirt Kohlmeier said. "It has definitely brought the team together. They were a part of the team and still are. I feel the kids have something to prove above and beyond themselves."
Kohlmeier has noticed a change in players' attitudes since the loss of Gonzales and Ayers.
"Coaching this team has been a blast," said Kohlmeier, who is in his 11th year. "They don't care who plays as long as we win. Practice has been more than going through the basics, I never had more fun in two hours in my life.
"These guys want to practice and want to be here. I never had this kind of feeling before."
Baseball clinic: The Glendale College baseball program and the Glendale Parks and Recreation Dept. is sponsoring an instructional clinic December 28-29 for children age 7-18 at Stengel Field.
Glendale College Coach Steve Coots will oversee the clinic, which will also feature former major league pitcher Jerry Reuss.
Information: 818-240-1000, ext. 240.
Tennis tournament: The Glendale Tennis Championships, which offer $750 in prize money, will be held Jan. 5-6 and 12-13 and the Central Park and Scholl Canyon courts.
Prize money will be available in the open competition, but there will also be men's and women's singles and doubles tournaments for A, B, C and D level players.
Entry deadline is Dec. 21.
Staff writer Kirby Lee contributed to this notebook.