The 1986-87 school year had its share of chills and spills, cheers, hisses and near-misses for South Bay sports teams and fans.
South Bay high schools failed to produce as many CIF and City champions as hoped for but had some exciting races and the usual crop of superb athletes. On the college level, Loyola Marymount was competitive in its major sports and Cal State Dominguez Hills had a banner year.
The fall season produced two football champions: Chadwick won its first CIF Small Schools title, the eight-man crown, while Carson upset Banning for the Los Angeles City championship as Coach Gene Vollnogle won his sixth title and third in five years. What was supposed to be Banning's greatest defense ever gave way to the Alvin 'n' Calvin Show as speedy Carson backs Alvin Goree and Calvin Holmes spearheaded the victory. Goree became the school's career rushing leader.
Banning Coach Chris Ferragamo announced his resignation after 18 years to take over the Harbor College program.
While one era was ending, a mini-dynasty was continuing at Mira Costa where the girls volleyball team won its second straight CIF 5-A title and was being called the greatest two-year collection of athletes in girls volleyball history. The Mustang girls, however, lost the state championship game to Hueneme. Mira Costa's Megan McAlister was named 5-A player of the year.
Other fall season champions included the Palos Verdes girls cross-country team and the Miraleste girls tennis team.
South Bay women also had a successful fall on the college level. Loyola Marymount won its first women's volleyball conference title and made its first NCAA tournament appearance, while Cal State Dominguez Hills had the West Coast's second-ranked women's soccer team. Junior Robyn Queen scored 21 goals to rank among the nation's scoring leaders.
Basketball was characterized by several near-misses among South Bay high schools, but it was a can't-miss undertaking at Dominguez Hills where Coach Dave Yanai won the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title and the conference tournament to clinch a spot in the NCAA Division II regionals.
The Toros' headliner was senior small forward William Alexander, who won his second straight CCAA scoring title and became the conference career scoring leader. Alexander was named CCAA co-player of the year and CCAA male athlete of the year.
El Camino College won still another league title, this time in the tough South Coast Conference. Playing with 11 freshmen, however, the Warriors failed to make a strong run at another state title.
The near-miss tag also went to Rolling Hills, the South Bay's best basketball team throughout the season and the top seed going into the 3-A playoffs. The Titans reached the title game but were upset by Saugus. Still, Rolling Hills has reestablished itself as a respected program in the two seasons since Cliff Warren took over as coach, and the tandem of guard Cameron Terry and center-forward Doug Gehr led the Titans to the South Bay's best record over the last two seasons, 47-10. Gehr and Terry were named 3-A co-players of the year.
A surprising near-miss was Palos Verdes, the only South Bay team to defeat Rolling Hills. It reached the 3-A semifinals with a small, scrappy group of players directed by John Mihaljevich.
Morningside was again the South Bay power in girls basketball but was knocked off in playoff semifinals.
Loyola Marymount, beset by injuries early in the season, had a hard-luck record but found a star for the future in junior forward Mike Yoest, who ranked with the nation's scoring leaders throughout December and tied for the West Coast Athletic Conference lead with a 19.3-point average--the fifth straight season in which a Lion has led the WCAC.
Off the court, the South Bay had another winter sport champion. West Torrance rose beyond expectations in boys soccer and tied Mater Dei in the CIF 4-A championship match to earn a share of the title.
Hawthorne High was the last team standing when the state track meet was over. Without a true standout to compare to past Cougar runners, Hawthorne Coach Kye Courtney depended on solid performances from Curtis Conway, Robert Carroll, Travis Hannah, Yke Vallery and his relay teams to win his fourth state title in five years.
Morningside captured the CIF 2-A title in boys track.
The other big winner this spring was the Dominguez Hills baseball team, which won its second straight CCAA title, pulling away from the tough conference in the last two weeks. The Toros then won the Western regional and made their first appearance in the Division II World Series, winning their opening game before bowing out. The Toros won 43 games, a school record.
Loyola failed to reach the Division I World Series again but still won 36 games and was ranked No. 3 early in the season. The Lions' omission from the 48-team NCAA playoffs was puzzling, but the scouts were aware of the talent; third baseman Chris Donnels was the 24th player chosen in the free agent draft. Donnels finished his Loyola days with career and season records for home runs and runs batted in.
At Harbor College, the powerful baseball team won the Southern California Athletic Conference title and catcher Jorge Pedre set a triple crown of team records, batting .472, slamming 21 home runs and knocking in 79 runs. The team socked a school record 79 homers.
No South Bay high school teams won baseball titles, but Redondo junior Scott Davison set a CIF season record for runs batted in with 58 and St. Bernard senior Tim Williams tied a CIF career home run record with 25.
While the area's baseball teams were finding titles elusive, San Pedro produced a City champion in boys soccer. Raul Haro was City player of the year.
Among the South Bay's successful alumni:
- Soccer player Carin Jennings from Palos Verdes graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a career scoring record of 100 goals and 200 points, an NCAA record.
- Sprinter Henry Thomas of Hawthorne ran a leg of UCLA's mile relay that set an NCAA record of 3:00.51 to help the Bruins win the NCAA championship. The sophomore also placed third in 200 meters.
- And a fitting closer: Laker guard Byron Scott (Morningside High) helped bring the NBA championship back to his hometown of Inglewood.
Now that was a can't-miss proposition.