They waited in the rain for nearly 90 minutes Saturday to get good seats for the state wrestling championships in Stockton.
They were a hardy group, part of a crowd of 6,000 that would fill the University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center.
They already had tickets, but were willing to wait for the best possible seats. Once inside, they had to wait some more.
The rain they could deal with.
A number of delays during the competition, which was taped for broadcast tonight by Prime Ticket, didn’t go over quite so well.
The cable company delayed the start of the 13 championship matches by 10 minutes. The crowd, at least at first, didn’t seem to mind much, passing the time by clapping, doing the wave and chanting a beer company’s slogan.
Once the matches started, though, the crowd got restless.
After each match, Prime Ticket delayed the next match to interview the winner. And wrestling fans, accustomed to watching one match after another in rapid-fire action, grew impatient. They started booing loudly during each interview.
At one point, the public address announcer apologized for the delay, but that was met with a loud chorus of boos.
The finals, which were scheduled to end around 9:30 p.m., didn’t get over until 10:40.
Welcome to the big time: Irvine had its best basketball season, posting a winning record for the first time in the school’s history and advancing to its first Southern Section title game.
Though Irvine was beaten by Capistrano Valley, 76-49, in the 5-A boys’ championship game Saturday, Irvine Coach Steve Keith said the Vaqueros were taking a “we’re just glad to be here attitude.”
But that didn’t make losing any easier to take.
“We celebrated awfully hard after beating Pasadena (in the semifinals),” Keith said. “We tried to almost downplay the importance of the game because our kids were so nervous.
“Hopefully, this will be the start of something good for Irvine basketball. We were kind of in the spotlight here and to play a game like this is kind of heartbreaking.”
Add 5-A: After beating Irvine Saturday, Capistrano Valley Coach Mark Thornton was asked how he thinks the Cougars will do in the state Division I playoffs.
“We really and truly feel we can beat anyone,” Thornton said. “If we play like we did tonight, we’ll be pretty effective.”
Capistrano Valley will get a chance to prove his point when it takes on Manual Arts, the City Section 4-A runner-up, in the first round Tuesday.
When Katella needed her most, Joni Easterly came through.
Easterly had 34 points as Katella beat Muir, 54-48, in overtime Thursday to win the Southern Section 4-A girls’ basketball championship. But the most impressive part of Easterly’s game was the fourth quarter and the overtime period.
Katella trailed, 34-25, when she seized command of the game.
With 7:15 left in the game, Easterly, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, made a five-foot jumper over Lisa Salsman, Muir’s 6-3 center.
Muir answered with a basket, but then Easterly kicked it into high gear.
With 6:51 left, she made two free throws.
With 6:18 left, she made a 12-foot jumper.
With 5:52 left, she hit a 17-footer.
Suddenly, it was down to a three-point lead.
Easterly was scoreless for the next 90 seconds, but after she drove for a basket and was fouled and sank the free throw, Katella led, 40-38.
She finished the quarter with 11 points, making four of six from the field and three of three at the line. In overtime, she had eight of Katella’s 12 points.
It all added up to 19 points in the final 11 minutes and helped Katella to its first basketball title, in boys’ or girls’ play.
“At the time it just seemed natural,” Katella Coach Barb Bausch said Sunday. “When I take a look back, it was definitely amazing what she did. She took control out there.”
Is Mark Trakh becoming an old softy?
Trakh, Brea-Olinda girls’ basketball coach, is well-known for his intensity on the sidelines and during practices.
He is regarded by his players as a basketball perfectionist. But he’s always looking for new ways to get the most from his players.
After watching his players struggle through three days of intense practices leading up to Friday’s Southern Section 3-A championship game, Trakh decided enough was enough.
And on Thursday, he had the Wildcats go through a few scouting reports and some brief shooting drills. Then Trakh brought out the punch and cookies and the Wildcats had a party.
“Just like the old GAA days,” Trakh said. “We even had a mock celebration just like we had won.”
It surprised the players.
“I said, ‘Is this Coach Trakh?’ ” Aimee McDaniel said.
But it also put them at ease and they beat Atascadero, 69-40, for the 3-A title.