PREP REVIEW : Coach Keeps His Cool in Heat of the Moment

If you watch basketball on television, it won’t take long before you see some coach throwing a tantrum, a clipboard or, in rare instances, a chair.

Although some players are attacking each other and the officials, and some rooting sections are jabbing and jeering instead of cheering, it’s nice to know that most high school principals, coaches and players still know the meaning of sportsmanship.

One recent example involved Santa Margarita High School Coach Rich Schaaf. Santa Margarita led Whittier Christian, 57-54, with seven seconds to play in an Olympic League game Tuesday at Rio Hondo College.

Whittier Christian’s Dan Long was at the free throw line. He made his first attempt and purposely missed his second. The players batted the rebound around before Whittier Christian got off a shot that missed. The players grappled for the rebound before Whittier Christian’s Rueben Oronoz tied the score.


“Everyone looked over to the clock to see how much time was left and there were still seven seconds on it,” Whittier Christian administrator Bill McKinley said.

Leon Davis, who has been working the clock for the Heralds for 18 years, had failed to start the clock.

“No one can possibly know how badly I felt,” Davis said. “I don’t think there is a timer who hasn’t forgotten to turn the clock on at one time or another. But I don’t think there was any time more crucial than this. I could have gone through a hole in the floor, and it wouldn’t have taken a very big hole.”

Schaaf protested to the officials immediately.


“We ran over and said, ‘Hey! You didn’t start it! You didn’t start it!’ ” Schaaf said.

The officials decided to let the basket stand and put two seconds on the clock, giving Santa Margarita possession. “This is really going to hurt us,” Schaaf told the referee, who replied that his decision stood.

Davis, the clock operator, thought nobody knew how badly he felt. But Schaaf did.

“I turned to the guy on the clock and I felt like saying something to him because I could see in his face how bad he felt,” Schaaf said. With a few people in the crowd pointing the finger at Davis, Schaaf turned to speak to Davis.

"(Schaaf) was frustrated and upset and I can’t blame him,” Davis said. “But in the heat of the moment, while he was arguing his case to the officials, he had the presence of mind and the integrity to stop and look at me and say, ‘Leon, I know you didn’t do it intentionally.’ ”

The game continued. Santa Margarita lost, 61-59, in overtime.

“Nobody feels as badly about losing as I do, but if I go in and complain and the kids complain, that doesn’t really teach the kids too much,” Schaaf said. “The whole idea of playing the game is to teach the kids how to handle winning and losing so later in life they can handle it.”

Whittier Christian Coach Bob Brown praised Schaaf for his handling of the situation. And Schaff called Davis at home the next day to reassure him.


“There is so much negative press about the violent incidents, and understandably so,” Brown said. “Here’s a situation that could have become ugly and didn’t because of the leadership given by a principal and a coach. They showed real sportsmanship in a very difficult, stressful situation.”

Said McKinley, “Here was a game-turning situation, and they handled it with real class. I think we have all seen enough other games where coaches can ignite a crowd, especially when there has been a mistake made.”

Oh, brother: In the Western-Brea-Olinda game Friday, the Western fans chanted, “USC! USC! USC!” almost every time Brea’s Keith Walker went to the free-throw line. Walker’s brother, Kevin, plays for UCLA, which lost to USC Thursday night.

The chanting didn’t faze Walker, however. He made 15 of 17 free throws and scored 37 points. But Western won, 68-66, in overtime, tying Brea-Olinda for first place in the Orange League.

Sign him up: He wasn’t even supposed to play, but Trabuco Hills’ Tim Manning played a major role in his basketball team’s fortunes Friday night.

Manning, who scored 26 points in an 85-77 victory over Woodbridge at Trabuco Hills, had scheduled a football recruiting trip to Princeton Friday, but canceled it last week after making an oral commitment to play at California.

“Am I ever glad he committed early,” Trabuco Hills Coach Rainer Wulf said.

Manning also had five steals against Woodbridge to live up to his nickname, “El Bandito.”


Held up for posterity: The start of Friday night’s Freeway League game between Sunny Hills and visiting Buena Park was held up for 30 minutes while a rim was replaced.

A crack in the rim support had been discovered before the junior varsity game and school personnel were able to find a rim that fit at a local sporting goods store.

“We didn’t have anyone here to change it, so the athletic director and the head football coach just pitched in,” Athletic Director Ralph Trigsted said.

The delay gave fans and administrators extra time to honor Sunny Hills basketball Coach Steve White, who won his 200th game with a victory over Fullerton Wednesday. Before Friday night’s game, he was given a plaque commemorating the victory.

White got his 201st victory with a 55-54 triumph over Buena Park. Will he be around for victory No. 300? “Sure,” White said. “Why not? As long as I keep enjoying it.”

A step ahead: Orange Lutheran Coach Jerry Simmons won his 250th varsity basketball game when the Lancers beat Ontario Christian, 71-66, Tuesday night. Simmons started coaching in Missouri before coming to Orange Lutheran.

Repeat: Linda Lunceford of Trabuco Hills led the county in soccer goals with 30 last season. This year, she scored her 27th on Thursday to help Trabuco Hills beat Woodbridge, 4-0, for its first Pacific Coast League title.

Prep Notes

Jim Barnett, Trabuco Hills football coach, has been named a co-coach of the South team that will participate in the 39th Shrine All-Star game July 28 in the Rose Bowl. Barnett has led Trabuco Hills to consecutive Division VIII titles and will co-coach the team with Paramount’s Ken Sutch. The rosters will be announced March 2.