Notebook : Two Try for 300th Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two of Orange County's most venerable coaches take a stab at history tonight and Wednesday as they attempt to win the 300th game of their coaching careers.

Carol Strausburg, 299-162 in 18 seasons coaching at Fountain Valley, goes for No. 300 tonight as her fourth-ranked Barons (14-5) try to remain undefeated in the Sunset League at Los Alamitos (6-10, 0-2).

"It's a time you start to reflect about your longevity in the sport and why you've stuck it out so long," Strausburg said of her milestone. "And then you start thinking about the family support, the school support and the kind of athletes you have--they're the ones who win the games for you.

"(The secret is) getting the most you can out of every player; I feel I've been pretty successful at doing that."

Retirement's not on her mind, either.

"The time will come when I want to have more time for myself, and that will probably be the key reason I would retire; it certainly wouldn't be because I didn't enjoy it. I haven't thought about it yet.

La Habra's John Koehler, with a 317-79 record, is the only active girls' coach with more victories at one school.

Jim Harris will have a tougher time Wednesday as Ocean View (12-7) plays host to second-ranked Tustin. He has a 299-138 record over 18 years.

Only Katella's Tom Danley (529-212), Mater Dei's Gary McKnight (373-30) and Capistrano Valley's Mark Thornton (305-89) have more victories. Next to join the 300 Club is Kennedy's John Mayberry (294-151), whose team is 6-12, but must win six of its last eight regular season games to reach 300.

Magnolia's Al Walin (198-267) (8-10 this season) could win No. 200 on Friday at home against Anaheim.

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Former Foothill track and field Coach Jerry Whitaker has been named one of six Southern Section coaches inducted into the Sunkist Indoor Invitational Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are Feb. 11, during the Sunkist Invitational, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

"This was a total surprise," Whitaker said. "We came home from Belize and one of the first things I opened was a congratulations letter from another coach."

Whitaker coached at Foothill for 17 years; his boys' team won the last two Orange County Championships; the girls finished second last year.

Also among the first group of inductees were Bob Loney, Upland; Johnny Estrada and Ron Tatum, Inglewood Morningside; Joe Kelly, Palos Verdes Peninsula; and Brian Fitzgerald, Oxnard Rio Mesa.

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Five current players in the Villa Park girls' basketball program--Julie Carrillo, Carolyn Glick, Michelle Cardona, Autumn Turner and Jessica Sammons--and one former player, Silvia Salgado, were returning from a hiking trip last fall in which they were enjoying some team "bonding."

On their return at dusk, with the sun in their eyes and a gravel road beneath them, their truck went out of control and plunged into a gully. Three girls in back were thrown 25 feet; one went through the windshield; another went through the rear window. The most seriously injured was Salgado, who received more than 100 stitches to her face. All were treated for cuts and abrasions and assorted sprains and bruises, but none had any broken bones.

Len Whitacre, who coached the Spartans at the time (and has since gone to Costa Mesa) recalled a conversation with the ambulance driver. "He said, 'If it happened 100 times, 99 times there would have been dead people.' "

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You've heard of fraternizing with the enemy? Shandy Robbins said shooting with the enemy is just as bad. Marina's Robbins, one of the county's best girls' basketball players, was critical of her team's game preparation after Thursday's 63-56 loss to Fountain Valley.

"We let Fountain Valley shoot around with us before the game," Robbins said, including herself in the admonishment. "We can't be shooting around with two of their players (Jennifer Ludwicki and Nicole Strange) at halftime during the J.V. game.

"I don't think we concentrated as much before the game as we should--instead we're talking about what we're going to be doing after the game."

Ludwicki and Strange scored 18 and 15 points, and with the victory, flip-flopped positions with Marina in the county rankings; the Barons (14-5) are now fourth and Marina (14-3) is fifth. Robbins had 27 points in the game.

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Ocean View's Jennifer Tuiolosega broke the school record for free-throw percentage in a game, going nine for nine Saturday in a 47-42 victory over El Dorado. Norma Leidfried was perfect in eight attempts in the mid-1970s.

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Boys' basketball league races will begin to take shape Wednesday in the Sunset and Freeway Leagues.

Eighth-ranked Los Alamitos (15-4, 3-0) plays at Fountain Valley (11-5, 3-0) in a key Sunset League game Wednesday. In the Freeway League, No. 3 Sonora (16-2, 3-0) plays at Fullerton (12-6, 3-0) and the Garden Grove League leaders--Pacifica (9-8, 3-1) and La Quinta (10-8, 4-1)--play Wednesday at La Quinta.

Friday, 10th-ranked Servite (12-4, 3-0) plays at No. 2 Tustin (16-1, 3-0) in the Golden West League.

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Sea View League girls' basketball should get a front-runner on Thursday when second-ranked Woodbridge (17-1, 3-0) plays at sixth-ranked Newport Harbor (13-2, 3-0). The Golden West League also features a showdown with No. 10 Ocean View (11-7, 3-0) at Westminster (11-7, 3-0). The big Freeway league battle is tonight with La Habra (10-6, 3-0) playing at Troy (12-5, 3-0). The Garden Grove League's premier game is Friday's Santiago (8-9, 3-1) at Garden Grove (9-6, 5-0) contest.

Times staff writer Michael Itagaki and correspondent Matt Farmer contributed to this report.

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