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scene in the Southland | SOUTHERN SECTION REPORT

Brea Olinda Feeling Sympathy for Santana


Usually, when a team receives a bye into the next round of a tournament, players and coaches are happy.

But the Brea Olinda girls' basketball team was somber earlier this week when the Ladycats found out that Santana High had withdrawn from the Southern California regional of the state tournament in the aftermath of Monday's shooting at the Santee school, which left two dead and 13 injured.

Brea Olinda will play Lakewood Artesia tonight at Cerritos Gahr in the Division II semifinals.

"Three, and possibly four [Santana] players were direct eyewitnesses to this tragedy,' said Dean Crowley, the Southern Regional tournament director and supervising coordinator for state championship.

Monday's shooting had coaches, teachers and administrators scrambling and negotiating a logistical maze in a chaotic situation. There were three conference calls before a decision was made.

"In the best interests of their community and their students, they are withdrawing from the tournament," said Crowley, the former Southern Section commissioner. "As an educator for 45 years, I've never been involved in, or witnessed, a tragedy of this magnitude in California."

Other options were playing the game as scheduled, or postponing it until Wednesday, although the winner would have had to play tonight against powerful Artesia and been at a competitive disadvantage.

"I think there was genuine compassion and absolute shock from the kids," Brea Olinda Coach Jeff Sink said, adding they kept Monday's "practice light, talking about what happened, and going home. Basketball is not a worry tonight."

Brea practiced Monday for 75 minutes not knowing whether the game would be played. The first 20 were spent in discussion. Sink said it would not be unusual for the team to practice for three hours in preparation for a regional playoff game.

"It was kind of difficult, and we really feel bad for them, a lot of sympathy," said Brea sophomore guard Jennifer Katsuyama. "It was devastating to hear. For me, I can't even imagine dealing with something like that."

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