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Notebook : One Hurdle Too Many for Katella

November 14, 1995|MARTIN BECK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

'That which doesn't kill me . . . makes me stronger . '

--Friedrich Nietzsche

Coach Grafton Weiss says he hasn't worn the Katella water polo T-shirt with the Nietzsche quote since he learned about the accident.

In July, two Katella players were killed and another was seriously injured when the driver of the car in which they were riding in lost control on a desert road on the way home from an overnight camping trip.

One of the players who died, Jonothan Fabbro Curtis, was the Knights' starting goalkeeper; the other, Steve Bender, was a key reserve.

The driver, James Patterson, who wasn't seriously hurt, also was a player and he remained on the team. He will be tried in juvenile court on charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony drunk driving.

The Knights dedicated their season to Fabbro Curtis and Bender and set their sights on beating El Dorado for the Empire League title.

The season, though successful, didn't go exactly as planned. The Knights won the Cerritos tournament, their first water polo tournament title in school history. But El Dorado beat them, 11-10, in overtime for the league title, a loss that Weiss said sapped much of the team's spirit. Fabbro Curtis was said to have blamed himself for a one-goal loss to El Dorado the season before.

"My seniors especially had put a lot into that one game," Weiss said. "They really left a lot in the pool that day."

Then Patterson was ejected for fighting during the final game of the regular season, making him ineligible for the first round of the playoffs. Weiss said he then removed Patterson, one of Katella's best defenders, from the team.

Because of the loss to El Dorado, the second-place Knights drew third-seeded Marina in the first round of the Division II playoffs last Friday. As expected, Marina ended Katella's season.

The Knights shed no tears.

*

Even before top-seeded Huntington Beach lost at Newport Harbor in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division I girls' volleyball playoffs Saturday, Oiler Coach Rocky Ciarelli had voiced his complaints about the tournament's draw.

And after the Sailors' 15-13, 5-15, 8-15, 15-13, 15-6 victory, Ciarelli had to resist the temptation to say "I told you so."

The Oilers, ranked No. 1 in the nation by one publication, were Sunset League champions and finished the regular season 17-0, but Ciarelli said they were not appropriately rewarded in the tournament.

"The way the seedings were done, it was a terrible job," he said.

While Huntington Beach was struggling against Sea View League co-champion Newport Harbor (12-5) in the quarterfinals, third-seeded Mater Dei (20-2) was breezing through a three-game victory over Irvine (11-8), which placed third in the Sea View League.

Karen Hellyer, an assistant commissioner for the Southern Section, said there is a strict format for drawing the bracket.

"The schools are the ones that vote this in. They are the ones that have decided that this is the process they want to follow," she said.

Ciarelli also said the Southern Section playoff format for deciding game sites precludes seeded teams from having their rightful advantage.

"I think that would be a great philosophical discussion the organization would love to have," Hellyer said.

Unlike in the State tournament, in which teams receive priority numbers in order to give a top-seeded team home-court advantage until the final, match sites in the Southern Section playoffs are often determined by coin flip.

Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn agreed winning the coin flip was key to the Sailors' quarterfinal victory, but Ciarelli was not consoled.

"It would be like telling the Dallas Cowboys, 'OK, you won your [division] but you lost the flip so you're playing at Green Bay this week.' It doesn't make any sense," he said.

Huntington Beach still has a chance to receive an at-large berth to the State tournament, which begins Nov. 21. Meanwhile, Newport Harbor will play host to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (17-1) and Mater Dei will play host to Laguna Beach (14-2) at 7 tonight in the Southern Section Division I semifinals.

*

As Corona del Mar boys' tennis coach, Tim Mang spearheaded a drive that ultimately changed the scoring system for one season. Now in his first season as the Corona del Mar girls' coach, Mang is at it again.

He is trying to change the guidelines for sending players to the Southern Section individual tennis tournament and he is attempting to change the site and the day for the section team finals.

Mang's arguments are sound.

For years, the best boys players in Orange County have been sent to two sectional sites--meaning as many as eight singles players and eight doubles teams have an opportunity to qualify for the round of 16. But in girls' tennis, all Orange County schools are sent to the same sectional, forcing many of the top county players to eliminate each other. So even though Orange County has some of the section's best talent, only four singles players and four doubles players can qualify for the round of 16.

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