Having cut his teeth in the basketball hotbed of Orange County, Bill Boyd became a natural scorer and journeyed north.
Boyd had starred for the Santa Ana Foothill High boys’ basketball team through his junior year before his family uprooted to La Crescenta, where he joined a burgeoning Crescenta Valley program rife with talent with a towering presence leading into the 1970-71 season.
La Crescenta resembled a small bedroom community just a jump shot away from bustling Los Angeles. It contrasted in many ways to Orange County.
“It was no accident that I ended up at CV,” said the 6-7 Boyd, a three-time All-American who played forward and helped the Falcons advance to the championship contest against Verbum Dei in 1971. “My dad [former USC men’s basketball Coach
] wanted to move closer to USC and he drove down Verdugo Boulevard and found out about CV. He wanted to be in a community where the family would like to live and had a outstanding basketball program.”
Crescenta Valley would prove to be the ideal match.
In stepped Boyd, one of nine individuals to be enshrined into the Crescenta Valley High Athletic Hall of Fame, along with the 1971 basketball team, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the school’s gymnasium. Boyd arrived at Crescenta Valley and fit in perfectly under the direction of coach Ed Goorjian, who built the program from the ground up and normally had his team in contention for league championships.
The Falcons possessed a lineup that would consist of five future Division I players, something that wasn’t common then or now. Boyd would join a Falcons team that featured a starting front line of 6-10 center Troy Jones, Boyd and 6-8 Bob Trowbridge and Brian Goorjian (6-3) and Scott Palmer (6-3) in the backcourt.
Off the bench, the Falcons could turn to 6-8 Bruce Denton and 6-5 Bruce Palmer. Boyd and Trowbridge would move on to USC, Jones went to Brigham Young, Goorjian attended Pepperdine, Scott Palmer went to UC Irvine before transferring to USC, Bruce Palmer would go to Pacific and Denton to the Portland.
“We had such a tall team and that helped us become so effective,” said Boyd, a commercial broker with Charles Dunn Co. in Glendale. “That team was a well-oiled machine.
“The guys we practiced against might have been as good as anybody in our league. Coach was about discipline and organization. He incorporated the fundamentals to help benefit the team and help us become as effective as we possibly could. We knew deep down that he loved us and cared about us. He would be in our face, but we knew he had our best interest at heart. He got me to maximize my skills.”
Boyd, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, became the final piece of the puzzle to put the Falcons in contention for a
championship. The previous season, Crescenta Valley went 24-4 and won the Foothill League title.
Goorjian, who was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2008 and now resides in Oceanside, said Boyd came to Crescenta Valley with impeccable credentials.
“What really helped things out was that he came to us during the summer and we all became acclimated with one another,” said Goorjian, 86, who compiled a varsity record of 328-103 (.761 winning percentage) between 1962-78 at Crescenta Valley and led the Falcons to seven league championships. “We knew that Bill would be good and he would take us to the next level.
“He averaged about 20-22 points per game that season. He had great footwork. He could do a lot of good things with and without the ball to put us in a better position to win.”
The Falcons won a couple of tournaments and then went undefeated in league during the 70-71 campaign, bringing a buzz to the community while playing the bulk of their home games at Glendale Community College because Crescenta Valley’s gymnasium couldn’t host large crowds. Crescenta Valley won by an average of 20.2 points per game and outscored its opponents, 2,106-1,500.
Trowbridge, who retired in 2010 as battalion chief for the Burbank Fire Department, said Boyd provided another dimension to an already talented squad capable of reaching the program’s first title contest.
“Bill pretty much solidified what we had,” said Trowbridge, a Calabasas resident who was named the league’s most valuable player in 1972. “When we heard first that he was coming, there was a little animosity because he was the son of the USC coach.
“When he got here, we all had fun. He became the catalyst to put us in position to be a very good team. He was the perfect power forward to have on our team. It’s disappointing that we didn’t win it all, but that’s a season that I will never forget.”
Crescenta Valley won its first 29 games and punched its ticket into the CIF Southern Section Division 4-A championship game against Verbum Dei, which won CIF titles in 1969 and 1970 and was ranked second in the nation with a lineup that consisted of center Lewis Brown (who would then play at UNLV) and guard Raymond Lewis.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they were saddled with their lone defeat as they fell, 51-42, to the Eagles in front of more than 11,000 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
“It’s still tough to admit, but we didn’t play the game the way we had leading up to the championship game,” said Boyd, who finished his four-year high school career with a then-CIF record 2,144 points and shared the league’s most valuable player accolade with Trowbridge. “I think we were a little distracted.
“It might have had something to do from stage fright to dealing with the unknown to the reputation that Verbum Dei had built with all of its success. I just don’t think we were mentally focused.”
To a degree, Boyd said time has absorbed most of the sting in the aftermath of the loss to Verbum Dei.
Boyd and his former teammates will take to the podium Saturday to receive recognition as one of the program’s top teams and one that put the Falcons on the map.