The classiest of Orange County high school basketball facilities will see its first basketball action Friday afternoon when the Century High School boys' freshmen and sophomore basketball teams play their season openers against Fullerton.
Century, located in Santa Ana, is Orange County's newest high school. It will unveil its $20,000 four-sided drop-down scoreboard in the 2,500-seat campus gymnasium at a half-hour ceremony Friday at 2 p.m. before the sophomore game. The freshman game will follow.
"The gym facility is probably, if not the best, one of the best in the state for high schools," said Century basketball Coach Greg Coombs, who left a successful program at Santa Ana High for the Century job.
Southern Section officials already have inquired about using the facility in the future for the small schools or 1-A playoffs, he said.
"You walk into the second level and walk down to the bleachers," said Coombs, who led Santa Ana to the semifinals of the Southern Section 4-A Division last season. 'We are going to have seats right along courtside like they do at the Forum," Coombs said.
The game will be broadcast on KYOU Channel 26 in Santa Ana.
"It is just going to be a great event and it is something the whole school will remember for many years to come," Coombs said.
Raising Roof-Raisers Right: Century students will receive instruction in more than reading, writing, arithmetic and now, computer literacy.
This week, the students will be learning something a bit more spirited--the proper way to cheer.
"These kids are freshmen and sophomores," Coombs said. "A lot of these kids are just coming out of junior high, so the majority haven't been to a big game.
"We want them to get the full effect of what it is like being part of a big-time event."
The school has a daily 15-minute advisement class students attend. During that time, students and teachers discuss everything from how to be a better person to how to get into college. But this week, in honor of the basketball team's season opener, the students will be learning how to express their school spirit.
They will show off their cheers and spirit at Friday's pregame ceremony, which will include such activities as shot contests for prizes.
"The kids are having a face-painting contest at the school like they do in the colleges," Coombs said. 'We are trying to make it just like a college event would be.
"It is building both self-esteem in the kids and pride in their school."
Don't Forget The Three Rs: Ten of the 12 members on Century's sophomore team have a 3.0 or better grade-point average, Coombs said.
"More than anything else," he said, "more than this game or this gym, that pleases us more than anything--that academically they are doing the job."
No Regular Rusher: Rancho Alamitos High School's Dana Riddle, Orange County's regular-season rushing leader with 1,975 yards, also led the state in that category.
In addition, he broke the all-time state record for most carries in the regular season. He carried 374 times to better Rene Barton's record of 320, set in 1983 while Barton played at Whittier Christian.
The all-time state regular-season rushing record, held by Whittier Christian's Craig Johnston, is safe, though. Johnston gained 2,445 yards in only nine games in 1975. The record was set at the old Whittier Christian campus in Whittier, before the school opened its La Habra campus, so it is not an Orange County record. The county record was set by Servite's Derek Brown, who rushed for 2,301 yards in 1988.
Riddle took control of this season's rushing race in the eighth week, when he gained 344 yards against Pacifica. That same week, his primary competitor, Mark Hatzenbuhler of Halt High School in Sacramento, had only two carries for minus-four yards after he was ejected for fighting.
Hatzenbuhler finished third in the state with 1,770 yards in 244 carries. La Puente's Marshawn Thompson of Bassett High School was second with 1,918 yards in 304 carries.
Sibling Rivalry: Jerry Wulf, 31, and his brother Rainer, 29, have always loved to compete. Not so much against each other, however, because they played different sports.
The brothers might just be the first fraternal siblings to coach their teams to Southern Section titles.
Last spring, Rainer led Trabuco Hills to the Southern Section 3-A basketball championship. Last week, Jerry led South Pasadena to a 14-8 victory over La Serna in the Southern Section 2-A water polo championships.
Jerry's victory was important in the good-natured battle between the brothers over which sport is better. Especially since it might sway one of their nieces or nephews to take up water polo.
"He always wants them to be water polo players and I want them to be basketball players," Rainer said.
The brothers got involved in swimming early. Jerry decided to stick with swimming and water polo, playing the latter at Cal State Los Angeles. Rainer opted for basketball, playing at UC Irvine.