Prep Review / Steve Lowery : Corona del Mar Is Thrown a Few Curves on the Road to the Final

For the Corona del Mar High School boys' basketball team, the road to the Southern Section final covered Inglewood, Hawthorne, Costa Mesa and Redondo Beach.

And that was just Thursday and Friday.

After defeating No. 1-seeded Rolling Hills, 69-63, Wednesday in the 3-A quarterfinals, Corona del Mar was scheduled to play Morningside at Inglewood High Friday in the semifinals.

Corona del Mar did play Morningside, located in Inglewood, and won, 57-56, in overtime, but the game was played in the Redondo Beach High gym and before fewer than 1,000 spectators.

What happened?

Thursday, Paul Orris, Corona del Mar coach, was having the traditional team meal the day before a big game. A call came for Orris informing him there had been a shooting on the Inglewood High campus on Thursday and asking whether Corona del Mar needed to hire more security for its game with Morningside.

That call was followed by another, this one relaying Corona del Mar athletic director Ron Davis' message that the Southern Section was changing the site of the game.

"But they didn't know where," Orris said.

Before Orris went to bed that night, he received a call at home from school officials telling him the game would be at Hawthorne High. So Friday morning, the Corona del Mar student body, over the school's intercom, was informed of the change.

A little later, it was determined that the game would not be at Hawthorne High--a school official in the Hawthorne area would not permit it, Orris said.

Corona del Mar proposed playing the game either at Estanica High or Orange Coast College, both located in Costa Mesa. Morningside said no way, Orris said.

About the same time, the Southern Section found out that Rolling Hills, figuring it was going to be in the semifinals, had reserved Redondo Beach High. The Southern Section proposed Redondo Beach, but Morningside said no, Orris said.

Now approaching noon, and with no site in sight, Dean Crowley, Southern Section associate commissioner, phoned Morningside officials and said it was either Redondo Beach or one of the Orange County sites.

Morningside finally agreed on Redondo Beach. Orris had his team leave early for the game, a good thing because around 5 p.m. the northbound side of the San Diego Freeway was closed when a man threatened to jump off an overpass, Orris said.

With all the confusion over where the game would be played and the traffic problem, there were perhaps only about 100 people when the game started.

"It was real quiet," Orris said.

The Corona del Mar rooter bus didn't arrive until halftime, so some Corona del Mar football players took their places leading cheers.

"It was a bizarre situation," Orris said. "I'm sure some of the people didn't get to the game just because they weren't sure where the game ended up. The whole game was an evolving process, there were strings of fans coming in throughout the game. They were still coming in with 2 minutes to go.

"Because the game came out in our favor, the whole situation was laughable. If it had turned out another way, I don't think I'd be so happy."

Although Southern Section administrators decided against moving the 5-A and 3-A division boys' championship basketball games from the 12,000-seat Los Angeles Sports Arena to UC Irvine's 5,000-seat Bren Center, some county officials believed the idea had merit.

On Saturday, Capistrano Valley plays Irvine in the 5-A game and Corona del Mar meets Trabuco Hills in the 3-A game--both all-Orange County affairs.

"It's a natural," said Ron Davis, Corona del Mar athletic director, about playing in the Bren Center. "We'd sure be in favor of it."

Said Mark Thornton, Capistrano Valley coach: "We'd definitely fill the Bren Center."

Which is what the Southern Section was thinking when it decided to keep the games at the Sports Arena.

"We decided not to change the schedule because the Bren Center might not be big enough for four county schools," said Dean Crowley, Southern Section associate commissioner of athletics.

Thornton allowed that there would be people turned away at the Bren Center's door, but wondered, "How many of those who would have been turned away are going to make the drive to L.A.?"

Glendora High's Tracy Murray will be at the Bren Center Wednesday and he's one player high school basketball fans should not miss.

Murray, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, has rewritten nearly all of the Southern Section's scoring records. He holds the career and season scoring records, breaking the marks of such notables as Leon Wood and Greg Goorjian.

He has led his team to the 4-AA final (8:15 p.m., Bren Center) against San Bernardino (29-0). Glendora is 28-1, and has won 26 games in a row. How much of that success can be credited to Murray?

Well, consider that Glendora defeated Perris in the semifinals, 75-63. Of the 75 points, Murray had 57. No other Glendora player had more than seven points.

Murray has been averaging 44 points per game in the regular season. His worst games this year have been two in which he has scored only 33 points.

What makes Murray tough to guard is his ability to go strong inside or shoot the three-pointer. He's the all-time Southern Section leader in three-pointers with 106 and made seven in the semifinal against Perris.

Prep Notes

Steve Beuerlein, Raiders quarterback, and LeRoy Irvin, Rams defensive back, will be among the competitors in Sunny Hills High's Sports Celebrity Golf tournament at 12:30 p.m. today at Los Coyotes Country Club. Cost for participants is $125, which includes green fees, golf cart and dinner. Proceeds will go to the school's athletic programs. . . . Marina will play a baseball game against its alumni at noon March 4 at Marina. Alumni can call for further information at 893-6571.

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