Researched by ARA NAJARIAN, Times Staff Writer


Mark Spinn did not make the Times’ All-County basketball team in 1981, but when Corona del Mar won the Southern Section Division 3-A title, the team had him to thank.

The Sea Kings defeated Tustin, 69-54, to win the title and Spinn scored 21 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots.

“Spinn killed us,” Tustin Coach Gary Larson said. “We switched from man-to-man defense in the second quarter, but nobody helped out defensing Spinn.”

Spinn picked up his fourth foul with 3 minutes 20 seconds left in the third quarter and Corona del Mar went into a four-corner offense.

“With Spinn on the bench, I figured, ‘Why shoot?’ ” Sea King Coach Jack Errion said.


Even if Spinn didn’t make The Times’ All-County team, he had plenty of respect, even before the final.

In the semifinal victory over La Quinta (48-29), Spinn guarded prep All-American center John Rogers, and with the help of a collapsing defense, held him to six points. Spinn finished with eight points, but he wasn’t expected to outscore Rogers.

The game before that, Spinn shut down San Gorgonio star Gary Wright. Teammate and Sea View League most valuable player Jeff Pries said: “The difference in the game was Spinn’s ability to shut down Wright.”

If it was an exciting week and a half for Spinn, it may have been even more so for his father, who stood and paced during the championship game at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

“The ushers here kept telling him to sit down,” Spinn said. “So he told them he just had a hemorrhoid operation.”


The Thrill Was Gone: Southern Section basketball coaches continued to complain that the State tournament is anticlimactic after the section’s five-round, two-week tournament.

One reason given is that the section tournament had more participants than 46 other State tournaments, and that the thrill is winning the Southern Section title. An interesting phenomenon, in that while basketball fans around the country focused their attention on the State tournaments, Southern Section coaches and fans were not supporting the California State Tournament.

In 1985, the Southern Section General Council voted to withdraw from the State tournament. After a one-year hiatus, the Section’s teams returned to the tournament. However, the approach did not seem any fresher: The Hacienda Heights Wilson boys’ team was the only Southern Section team to win a title. Two other Section teams, the Chino girls and the Crossroads boys, lost to give the Southern Section a 6-8 record in the State tournament from 1981 to 1986.

Crossroads Coach Elliott Turrett resigned after his title game loss (68-63 to Travis Air Force Base Vanden), saying: “The team peaked for the Whittier Christian (Southern Section 1-A title) game and never played to that level the next three games. Teams in Southern California seem to gear up for the sectionals the way Northern California teams gear up for the regionals.

“I was unable to get my players up for the regionals or (the State title) game. It showed in practice and in the games. I am as much to blame as the players. We were having too much of a good time up here because we had already won the Southern Section final.”

Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said that his team’s victory over powerful Crenshaw on March 14 was “the State championship, the one in Oakland is a token.”

His statement may have been a bit of bravado, but the feeling at the time was pervasive. There just seems to be more interest in the State tournament in Northern California, where 14,300 were in attendance for the final at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Clippers wish they could draw that many.


We Deliver: Servite advanced to play in the State championship game by defeating Dos Pueblos, 46-29, with an assist to the pizza man.

The Dos Pueblos team had pizza the night before the game and five players--including four starters--contracted food poisoning.

“We battled against adversity all year. We battled and battled,” Dos Pueblos Coach Eric Burkhardt said. “But today we faced a double-whammy: pizza and the Servite Friars.”