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CHRIS FOSTER

Mater Dei Not Taking Chances

June 11, 1996|Chris Foster

When looking back on the prep sports season, one thing becomes clear. The Pond has to be the most dangerous place in Orange County.

No one seems to have picked up on this. Well, almost no one.

The good folks from Mater Dei were on the ball. They knew and acted. The rest of us were blind to this apparent threat.

But those Monarchs knew basketball players were being exposed to who-knows-what. (Danger David Robinson, Danger). Thankfully, the Clippers found out about this in time.

There will be those who doubt the validity of this. But if the Pond was safe, would Mater Dei officials assemble a crack security squad--as they have done the last three seasons--to escort their basketball teams? I'm mean, it wasn't like they were trying to slip in a few extra people for free or anything, as some observers have speculated.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 13, 1996 Orange County Edition Sports Part C Page 7 Sports Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Basketball--Gary McKnight has been Mater Dei basketball coach for 14 seasons and his teams have won 11 Southern Section titles. Those statistics were incorrectly reported in Tuesday's Times Orange County Edition.

No, they must have had a reason. You don't organize this kind of a group--and they haven't for other championship events--without just cause. Eight guys armed with walkie talkies and snarls, ready to pounce.

Some folks around Mater Dei call this standard procedure. One said this week he couldn't recall a security team existing at all.

Ah, but those guys were there.

After all, you couldn't trust an arena's security and Anaheim police with such a delicate situation. Mater Dei was going to protect its own.

Only the best and brightest staff members and coaches were chosen. It wasn't just handed to anyone who wanted to get into the game without buying a ticket, as observers have suggested.

No, they had a higher purpose, watching over the school's players at the Southern Section and Southern California Regional championship games. They had a job to do, mister, and they did it. Not one player has been lost since the Monarchs started going to the Pond.

OK, there was one. But Schea Cotton was a defection not an abduction. He found a school that wasn't going to play in the Pond last season.

The security team was alert. They didn't sit on their hands, or just clap them when the Monarchs scored. No, those hands were cocked, ready to draw walkie-talkies. With "Mater Dei Security" on their shirts, you knew they meant business. At any moment, they might wrestle to the ground a surly-looking tuba player. Yeah that one, there, with a suspicious looking mouthpiece, get 'em!

They hovered, keeping an eye on the game and an eye on the crowd and an eye on Gary McKnight's lunch. Wait, three eyes, you say? This can not be? Oh, but it is. These guys were that good. They weren't some fellas angling for free court-side seats.

No, they were trained professionals. And those were only the ones you saw. Who knows how many undercover agents were planted in the crowd?

What's the danger you ask? No one is quite sure right now. But we're digging. In the meantime, these guys will be there whenever the Monarchs play in the Pond, protecting them from the evil lurking within.

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