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Only Mater Dei Left Standing in Finals

March 07, 2000|BEN BOLCH

Call it the lost weekend.

Four of the five Orange County boys' basketball teams competing in Southern Section championship games last weekend didn't just lose--they were pulverized.

Heritage Christian, Orange Lutheran, Ocean View and Brea Olinda players didn't exactly create the type of memories they'll tell their grandchildren.

Only mighty Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in the county all season, came through with a 53-39 victory in Division I-A over Simi Valley.

Long faces prevailed Friday evening at Loyola Marymount and all day Saturday at the Arrowhead Pond, though there were fewer tears--publicly, at least--than expected given the results. Maybe that's because the majority of the losing teams knew they were done by halftime.

Still, the hurt showed. Many players walked slowly and dejectedly off the court with their runner-up patches. Others looked a tad angry.

"Losing's never fun," noted Torin Beeler, the Ocean View guard who picked up three points and five fouls during the Seahawks' 83-46 drubbing at the hands of Lakewood Artesia in Division II-A.

A look at the carnage by the numbers:

* Heritage Christian made 8 of 40 three-point attempts and was outrebounded by 16.

* Brea Olinda, a team that relies on its perimeter game, made one of 15 three-point shots and 10 of 43 field-goal attempts.

* Ocean View committed 29 turnovers.

* Orange Lutheran's sharp-shooting guard, Jason Whieldon, made five of 17 shots from the field, including only one three-pointer.

The Lancers kept their Division IV-A final against Santa Monica Crossroads relatively close thanks to a late 16-5 run, though Lancer Coach Shawn Cassidy resorted to coachspeak when he said, "I didn't think we were out of it until there was one second on the clock."

Uh, coach, your team was trailing by six points with one second to go and a player from the other team on the line shooting free throws. Crossroads won, 63-57.

Brea Olinda had the not-so-fun task of playing USA Today's top-ranked team in the country in Compton Dominguez. The trajectory of almost every Wildcat shot was altered by the arms or fingertips of the taller, more athletic Dons, who went on to a 66-42 victory in the Division II-AA final.

And then there was tiny Heritage Christian, the only county team to play Friday. The Patriots were a scrappy bunch but fell behind 7-0 and never really recovered in their 60-46 loss to top-seeded Los Angeles Price in Division V-A.

There's good news and bad news for the four losing teams. They'll play again tonight--opening with games against higher seeds on the road--in the state playoffs. Or was that the bad news?


Unlike in every other division, the first two rounds of boys' and girls' state playoff games in Division I will be held Wednesday and Friday. On the surface, the switch from Tuesday and Thursday games makes little sense since the regional finals are Saturday.

"Our basketball advisory committee recommended the change in the schedule for two primary reasons," state CIF spokesman Jim Duel said. "First, the thinking was to give more schools a chance to be the 'highlight' game and fans more of a chance to attend these.

"We've also had problems securing alternates sites [in the Northern region] and have had to turn away fans at some games. By spacing out the schedule, we have better availability for alternate sites."


Don't be shocked to find your local hardware store out of rust scrapers this week. Corona del Mar Coach Paul Orris, whose Sea Kings haven't played since losing to Compton Centennial in a Division III-AA semifinal Feb. 25, will lead his team back into action tonight in the state playoffs after a layoff of 11 days.

Corona del Mar qualified for the state playoffs because there's no Division III-A. As a result, the final four teams in Division III-AA received berths.


Anyone who says the section officials who created the playoff's 10-win-you're-in rule were misguided should listen to Gardena Serra Coach Dwan Hurt. Hurt's Cavaliers, who were 11-15 entering their wild-card game three weeks ago, won the Division IV-AA title with a 72-58 victory over Play del Rey St. Bernard.

"It's amazing [what can happen in the playoffs]," said Hurt, whose team picked up its second consecutive division title. "I can't put my finger on it."

By contrast, the 17 county teams that qualified for playoff berths by virtue of having 10 victories finished 2-17 and none advanced past the second round. . . . Orange Lutheran players wore black patches on their uniforms in memory of sophomore James Shumar, a student at the school who died two weeks ago in a car accident in Anaheim Hills. . . . Combined attendance for the morning and evening sessions at the Pond was announced at 14,115. It was a far cry from all-time mark of 25,739 in 1994.

Staff writer Paul McLeod contributed to this report.



Southern California Regional

Division I, Wednesday

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