Ten years ago, El Toro High School Coach Tim Travers attended a basketball clinic where New York Knick Coach Hubie Brown discussed last-second plays.
Brown, a popular speaker, is known for devising length-of-the-court desperation plays, which are a favorite topic among coaches. They look impressive on a chalkboard, but seldom work.
Travers was particularly impressed with one of Brown's inbound plays that ideally results in a free throw situation. He decided to practice the play for the first time last Monday.
"I figured we needed some type of last-second play with (South Coast) league starting," Travers said. "The kids were all laughing when I showed them how it works and we ran it a couple of times."
But nobody was laughing two days later when El Toro used the play to gain a wild, 96-90, overtime win over Irvine.
Here's what happened:
The Chargers, trailing 86-84 with two seconds remaining, called a timeout with possession under Irvine's basket. Travers instructed center Chuck Kunsaitis to stand in the circle area of Irvine's basket and forward Scott Shocky and Jeff Stone to stand at halfcourt.
Guard Tim McLain stood in the circle area of El Toro's basket while guard James Markert was set to inbound the play to the left of El Toro's basket. When time resumed, McLain and Markert became the key players.
Travers: "Markert took one step to his right and then raced to his left along the baseline. The Irvine defender followed him. Meanwhile, Tim McLain had circled back along the baseline where he picked up a charging call when the Irvine defender collided with him.
"The defender never saw Tim and the official never hesitated to make the call. My only worry was if Tim was OK to make the free throws because the defender really buried him. Tim's our best free throw shooter, but he almost missed the first shot."
McLain made both free throws for an 86-86 tie to send the game into an extra, three-minute period. El Toro hit its opening three shots in overtime and won.
"I wouldn't even care to guess what the odds are of winning a game like that," Travers said. "I saw that play 10 years ago and that was my first chance to use it. I'll probably have to start coaching in Sioux Falls, S.D. to ever use it again.
"For two days, all people were talking about around here was The Play. The kids want to get T-shirts made with The Play diagramed on the front like the Stanford-Cal football play."
Playing in style: La Habra Coach Eldon (Tex) Wallis has retired, but his flat top-style haircut that was his trademark for 26 years has become a new trend among county basketball players.
When Dana Hills met Capistrano Valley at Saddleback College Friday, the starting five for both teams sported crew cuts. The players at Dana Hills were trimmed at a school assembly on Wednesday before their South Coast League opener against Mission Viejo.
"They had eight barbers come out and cut their hair in front of the whole school," Dolphin Coach Steve Thornton. "They tried to talk me into getting my haircut, but I wasn't going for it."
One coach who has become part of the new trend is Brea-Olinda's Gene Lloyd, who got his haircut last October and has been closely cropping his hair each month. He said he will grow his hair back after the season.
"If it was good enough for Tex, it's good enough for me," Lloyd said.
A tough job, but somebody's got to do it: Laguna Hills Coach John Moore last week compared an official's job to that of a policeman. Moore, who has six years experience as a referee in Los Angeles, eventually plans to become a referee in Orange County.
"The point I was trying to make about cops and referees was that they both have difficult jobs and they're both in no-win situations where some come out looking bad," he said.
Why would Moore leave coaching to become a referee? "I like to think a coach could be a good ref. Most of us have played the game and we certainly see enough games," he said.
Newport Harbor tackle Mike Beech was the only Orange County player to be named to Cal-Hi Sports of Sacramento's first team all-State football squad. Beech, one of the most highly recruited players in Southern California, has planned visits to UCLA, USC, Washington and Southern Methodist. Mater Dei quarterback Todd Marinovich was named the State's Freshman Player of the Year by the publication. Quarterback Brett Johnson (El Modena), tailback Jim Farrell (Esperanza) and kicker Todd Prukop (Servite) were named to the second team. Quartz Hill fullback Aaron Emanuel was named the Player of the Year. . . . Fountain Valley tackle Brad Leggett plans to visit USC, Mississippi and Louisiana State. Leggett's father, Earl, attended LSU before playing professionally for the Chicago Bears. Foothill tackle Steve Hingst plans to visit Stanford, Northwestern, Cal, Cornell and Harvard. Newport Harbor fullback Fritz Howser has one visit planned to Cal. The first day for prep football players to sign national letters of intent is Feb. 13. . . . Loara senior gymnast Amy Werbelow, a Southern Section finalist the past two years, will attend tryouts in Rockville, Md., April 20 and 21 for the Maccabiah Games, an international sports festival to be held this July in Israel. Werbelow, 17, has been a Class 1 gymnast the past four years.
The Orange County Athletic Directors' winter meeting will be held tonight at Anaheim Convention Center beginning at 6 o'clock. The group plans to honor high school booster club presidents and Cal State Fullerton football Coach Gene Murphy. . . . Former Rams trainer Gary Tuthill will host a free sports medicine clinic at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Anaheim Sheraton Hotel. Guest speakers include Lynn L. Kendziora, Robert J. Moore, and Heikki Riivald. Further information can be obtained by telephoning Tuthill at 971-8878. . . . The first Gene Donnelly Memorial Golf Tournament is scheduled for Jan. 28, at the Alta Vista Country Club. Some of the tournament proceeds will be donated to the Anaheim High athletic program. Registration fee is $50, which includes green fees, cart, prizes and dinner. For further information, telephone Ramiro Lujan at 898-0195. . . . With his 36 points against against Pius X on Friday, Mater Dei's Tom Lewis moved up to sixth on the all-time Southern Section scoring list with 2,028 points. Lewis passed John Rogers of La Quinta, who had 2,012 in his career. In fifth place and well within Lewis' reach is Bill Boyd, who scored 2,144 points for Crescenta Valley and Foothill. Lewis is also ninth on the all-time rebounding list with 1,041 rebounds. Lewis is only six shy of eighth place Tony Anderson's 1,047 rebounds. Anderson starred at Victor Valley in Victorville before beginning an injury-plagued collegiate career at UCLA.