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Ups and Downs of the Prep Sports Year

Members of The Times Orange County prep sports staff share their memories of the people, events and issues of the past school year. : Losing With Grace, Part II

June 17, 1997|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

Call it an occupational hazard.

It's our job to bring readers all the final scores, the highlights and maybe even some reasons why championships are won or lost. But sometimes, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the people for the sake of the story.

That's one reason why one of my most memorable moments this year wasn't even a winning one.

Calvary Chapel has had its share of winners and even won state and Southern Section championships this season in wrestling and softball. Pretty good for such a small school.

But I remember the one the Eagles didn't win.

Coach Craig Falconer helped the boys' basketball team to the finest season in school history. Perhaps that gets overshadowed because the Eagles didn't hoist the championship plaque.

That team featured one of the county's best point guards in Kevin Falconer. The Eagles had two big front-line players, Kevin Cutler and David Williams, and three-point sharpshooter Garid Beeler. The Eagles also had explosive leading scorer Joe Ortiz, a junior, who could shoot three-pointers with the same ease as driving past defenders for acrobatic layups.

What the Eagles didn't have was Baron Davis.

Davis, the highly-touted UCLA recruit, led Santa Monica Crossroads to state and section titles this season. And in both cases, Crossroads left Calvary Chapel in its wake.

Still, the way I remember it, Calvary Chapel didn't lose as much as Crossroads won both meetings.

In the section final and the state semifinal, Calvary Chapel gave Crossroads all it could handle.

"We just got tired," Kevin Falconer said.

It was a case that Crossroads just had too much talent for Calvary Chapel. Someone was just a little better. Even though the Eagles were the best team in Calvary Chapel's history, it wasn't enough to beat Crossroads.

And Coach Falconer graciously accepted the outcome. He explained to the press that his team did what he wanted. They got the shots they wanted, dictated the tempo they wanted to, just flat out competed with Crossroads. The Eagles just ran out of gas.

It would have been easy to look for scapegoats, the most common target these days being the game officials.

But there were no alibis, no pointing fingers. And the saddest part is that this has become more the exception than the rule.

I pray that can change.

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