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ALL-COUNTY BOYS' BASKETBALL TEAM | COACH OF THE YEAR

Terry Gets Most Out of What Brea Has

March 28, 2000|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You can bring in the behemoth centers and the super-quick guards from all corners of the country and build a winner seemingly in less time than it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn.

Or you can follow Brea Olinda Coach Bob Terry's lead.

In only his second season, Terry assembled arguably the best boys' basketball team in school history with--gasp!--home-grown talent and led the Wildcats to their first Southern Section championship game.

"We don't get big transfers here," said Terry, The Times' Orange County Boys' Coach of the Year. "All of our kids have grown up going to our [feeder] junior high and high school. We've turned kids into basketball players, and that's what we're proud of."

It took some coaching wizardry to take a team starting four guards and a forward so deep into the playoffs, especially since the Wildcats didn't have a go-to guy for the first time in years. Last season it was Kyle Dodd (now at Arizona State). Two seasons ago it was Chris McMillian (Wyoming). And three seasons ago it was Sean Wink (who played two seasons at Northwestern before leaving the program).

This time around it was a balanced cast of guards that led the charge. Ryan Wilber (17.7 points per game), Ryan Moore (14.8) and Landon Lewis (14.2) formed the backbone of a team that finished 24-8 and won its second consecutive Orange League title.

Terry used each player to his fullest potential--Wilber for his scoring, Lewis for his three-point shooting and Moore for his slashing moves to the basket.

When his team was overmatched inside, as it was in the section championship game against Compton Dominguez, Terry had his players pack the interior to force their opponent to take its chances from the perimeter. For the most part, the plan worked.

"He knows who to go to and what his kids can do," said Valencia Coach Dean Yoshimura, whose Tigers lost twice to the Wildcats. "His teams are always well-prepared.

"We know what they're going to do because they've been doing the same stuff for years. But they execute so well we can't stop it. The kids know how to play basketball."

Perhaps that's because their coach knows what he teaches. Terry starred as a 6-foot-8 swingman at Fullerton College and Azusa Pacific, where he was an NAIA Division I All-American. At Fullerton Terry shot 90% from the free-throw line, still a record.

Typically soft-spoken but fiery when he needed to be, Terry challenged the Wildcats all season, asking players how much they wanted to play in the section championship game at the Arrowhead Pond. Terry also ensured his team knew the importance of the little things, like shooting free throws. The Wildcats shot 76% from the line.

"He always relates to the players and would inspire us and tell us what we needed to do," said Wilber, who has signed with Humboldt State. "The way he comes across, he makes you want to play for him."

Brea's storybook run was not without its hitches, though. The Wildcats appeared poised for a season-long plunge after a 5-4 start. Terry noticed cliques forming and a lot of infighting among players who in the past had been close friends.

"One of the most important things is team chemistry, and I didn't see a lot of that early on," said Terry, who took corrective action during one-on-one and group meetings. "But I give them credit because we overcame that and pulled together the last month."

Brea won 19 of 21 games heading into the Division II-AA championship against Dominguez, including impressive playoff victories over second-seeded Temecula Chaparral and third-seeded Inglewood. But the Dons, who were named USA Today's No. 1 team in the nation, were too much for the Wildcats, winning, 66-42.

Brea lost to San Diego Serra, 66-51, in the first round of the state playoffs.

Still, by guiding his team to the section final, Terry, 31, had accomplished the mission he set out on two years earlier, when he took the head coaching job after four years as an assistant.

Terry did it his way too.

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