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Weather Forces Players, Officials to Scramble to Play Games

February 10, 1998

County high school sports facilities have had their share of weather-related troubles this winter.

Saturday's Nike Extravaganza III was nearly canceled when the UC Irvine Bren Center flooded. At Laguna Hills Friday, where the Hawks defeated Laguna Beach, 55-51, in a boys' basketball game, a giant sheet of plastic covered a portion of the ceiling over the south end of the gym. Rainwater dripped onto the sheet from a leak in the roof and then into one of three trash cans. Towels lined the baseline.

Saturday night at Marina High, when some of the heaviest rain fell, a constant drip from a leaky roof fell onto the basketball court, causing several turnovers by both teams in Marina's 59-51 Sunset League title-clinching victory over Esperanza. Early in the third quarter, a soaked ceiling tile fell behind the Esperanza bench, narrowing missing a young child walking by.

At about the same time, the Brea Olinda girls' basketball team saw its showdown with fifth-ranked Ventura Buena delayed twice for a total of 21 minutes because an air conditioning duct began leaking. Brea won, 81-59.

There have been so many soccer rainouts that athletic directors are scrambling to find enough referees. Monday's sunny skies provided a reprieve and many makeup games got in. But with the threat of more rain later this week and the playoffs set to begin next Monday, officials warn that many contests will be played in bad weather, or canceled altogether.

"They have nowhere else to go. There's no time left. They've got to play them," said Bob Render, who assigns referees for the Southern California Soccer Referees Assn.

Even water polo matches have been affected by bad weather. According to community service leader Brent Miller at Heritage Park in Irvine, players were ordered out of the pool Friday during an early round game at the Southern California Championships girls' water polo tournament because of lightning. The delay lasted 45 minutes.

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Former Orange Lutheran High softball Coach Paul Sage has been hired for the same position at Fairmont, Athletic Director Bob Hubbard said. Sage coached at Orange Lutheran from 1992 to 1994.

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Los Alamitos' Jackie Frank was named the outstanding goalie and Long Beach Wilson's Brianne Barth was named the outstanding field player at the Irvine Southern California Championships girls' water polo tournament last weekend.

Other all-tournament selections:

Goalies--Candice Chick (Marina), Katelyn Henry (Santa Barbara).

Field players--Erin Hayes (University), Jenny Lamb (Marina), Erin Lezak (Irvine), Shelli Linza (Los Alamitos), Cassie Nichols (Santa Barbara), Chelsea Rowlands (Capistrano Valley), Ashley Stachowski (Capistrano Valley), Jenny Stuart (Long Beach Wilson), Brooke Taylor (El Toro), Julia Wald (Rosary), Heather Warm (Coronado).

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The Irvine girls' water polo team lost only three of its first 17 games, but the Vaqueros equaled that loss total last week. Still, Coach Scott Hinman wasn't too dejected about the 3-3 week.

Irvine defeated Rosary, 11-7, in the seventh-place game at the Irvine Southern California Championships tournament last weekend.

Wednesday, Irvine lost its Sea View League showdown with Newport Harbor, 8-4. Then in the tournament over the weekend, Irvine lost to Santa Barbara, the top-ranked team in the Southern Section Division II poll, and San Diego Section power Coronado.

Hinman was among the coaches who said the 32-team tournament, which featured nine of the top 10 teams in Division I and 11 of the top 12 teams in Orange County, was a good measuring stick for the upcoming Southern Section playoffs.

"You want to see how you stack up against the best," Hinman said.

Long Beach Wilson, the top-ranked team in Division I, remained unbeaten and defeated second-ranked Marina, 6-4, in overtime, in the championship game.

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Mike Itagaki and Melanie Neff and Times staff writers Paul McLeod and Erik Hamilton contributed to this report.

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