Salesian Coach Dan Galvan has experienced more than his fair share of problems this basketball season.
The Mustangs have lost six players and have struggled to a 4-13 record. But what makes it worse is none of the players was lost to unavoidable circumstances such as injuries.
Miguel Gutierrez, Rudy Sarmiento, Beto Jimenez and Walter Molina were kicked off the team for rules violations. Hector Vasquez was sent down to junior varsity because "he wasn't ready for varsity level competition," Galvan said.
And on Jan. 22, Salesian's best player, Jimmy Gonzalez, walked off the team. After four years of football and three of basketball, the Santa Fe League MVP nominee suddenly called it quits.
"Jimmy decided that he wasn't having fun anymore. He wanted time to be himself instead of having everyone relying upon him," Galvan said.
Gonzalez's athletic prowess on the football field also factored heavily in his decision not to return to the basketball court. Among his football accolades are All-Southern Section Division X defensive back and Santa Fe League defensive player of the year.
Gonzalez is leaning toward trying out as a walk-on at UCLA. Other schools interested in Gonzalez include San Diego State and the University of California.
"Gonzalez also had a hard time dealing with losing," Galvan said. The Mustangs were 4-10 when he quit the team.
Other Salesian players are also tiring of the mounting numbers in the loss column. "With the losses have come lots of finger-pointing and negative attitudes," Galvan said.
Salesian now has only four seniors on its 18-member team, and the tallest player, Eric Gomez, is 5-foot-11. Point guard Danny Navaro, who is averaging 16 points a game, has been the lone bright spot for Salesian.
Team spirit is pretty bad," Galvan said. "(The players) hustle on the court and the talent is there. But the lack of motivation hurts them."
Double Duty--Rico Cabrera got a little closer to the action than he expected at the Cal State L.A. women's basketball team's home game against UC Riverside.
Cabrera, who was covering the Jan. 31 game as a color commentator for Buenavision cable television, was pressed into service when officials failed to arrive.
Cabrera, an NCAA-sanctioned men's referee who had just finished officiating three adult-league games at Hollenbeck Park, changed into his official's uniform after gaining approval from both coaches.
He officiated the first half by himself until another official arrived in the second to help.
"It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time," Cabrera said. "The women's rules are a little bit different, but I was familiar with them so it wasn't too bad."
After the women's game, Cabrera, who is also host for the weekly show East L.A. Sports Scene on Buenavision, changed and was back in time to lend a hand to play-by-play announcer Sid Garcia for the men's game, which began 20 minutes later.
Signings--Locke High Coach E.C. Robinson has had at least one player receive a Division I football scholarship in each of the past 10 years.
On Wednesday, Robinson kept his streak going when strong safety Darrell De Blanc (6-1, 185) officially signed a letter of intent with Arizona State. Two other Saints--offensive tackle Gregory Jones (6-3, 265) and receiver Brian Clark (5-11, 175)--have been offered Division I scholarships, but have not attained the minimum SAT score.
At Loyola, defensive back-receiver Jerome Henry (6-0, 185) signed with Iowa State. Two other Cubs--tackle Robert Jungerhans and quarterback Clelio Boccato--are pursuing opportunities to play in the Ivy League, whose member schools do not offer athletic scholarships.
Defensive back Anthony Wade (5-8, 160) of East L.A. College signed to play for North Alabama University, a Division II school. Wade had four interceptions, four knock downs, and 38 unassisted tackles this season. He was chosen to the all-Foothill Conference first team.
Tennis Honors--Two singles players and five doubles teams from the area have been named to the City Section individual girls' tennis team.
Lilly Nava of Bell and Roxana Vidaurre of South Gate were selected to the singles third team.
Silvy Chim and Hang Ngo of Belmont were picked to the doubles second team. Selected to the doubles third team were Lori Jimenez and April Mardueno of Bell, Flor Garcia and Shalomie Palomo of Los Angeles, Nelly Cevallos and Monica Cardenas of Roosevelt, and Sara Ledesma and Norma Sanchez of South Gate.
Kirby Lee contributed to this report.