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Orange Coast Is Stumbling, but Morbley Is Glad He’s Sticking Around

Damion Morbley made a last-minute decision to stay at Orange Coast this season.

Morbley, a 6-foot-7 forward, was the only freshman on the All-Orange Empire Conference team last spring but still didn’t have much fun.

Orange Coast improved to 13-17 after finishing 5-23 the previous season. Still, Morbley was upset, especially by the Pirates’ 3-11 record in conference and first-round loss in the Southern California playoffs.

“It was the first losing season I’ve ever experienced,” said Morbley, who attended Pomona High. “I just wasn’t used to it. There was lots of jealousy on the team. I had come down here with thoughts of helping turn the program around.”

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Morbley, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman, considered transferring to an out-of-state community college.

“The talent we have on this team this season, that’s the main reason I came back,” he said. “Everyone can score.”

Things started well for OCC, which won its first five games, but the Pirates started to stumble and are now 10-14, 2-6 in conference.

But Orange Coast isn’t too far from having a much better record.

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Four of the six conference losses have been by five points or less, including two in overtime. OCC lost to Rancho Santiago by two points Wednesday, when Morbley’s shot rolled off the rim as time ran out.

“I had the ball and I thought it was in,” Morbley said. “The close ones are tough. Losing takes its toll, but I still believe in the team and have confidence we will turn it around.”

Although the team has struggled, Morbley has been impressive. He has averaged 28 points and 13 rebounds in his last five games. For the season, he is averaging 21.5 points and 11 rebounds.

He is also climbing up the OCC all-time lists.

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Morbley, 19, has 986 points, placing him fourth on the college’s all-time list. He is third in rebounds with 561.

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At Pomona High, Morbley averaged 24 points and 18 rebounds and was the most valuable player of the Mountview League. He signed a letter of intent with Cal State San Bernardino, a Division II program, but changed his mind because he believed he was good enough to play at a Division I school.

He first worked out with Chaffey College but switched to Orange Coast near the start of classes in August, 1993. He lives in an apartment with some teammates near the OCC campus.

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“I wanted to get away,” he said. “I didn’t want to see the same crowd over and over again. . . I’ve gotten a lot of help from my parents. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be. I might be in a gang or in jail.”

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Women’s basketball: With two victories, Golden West can pretty much close out the Orange Empire Conference race by Friday night.

The Rustlers (22-5, 7-0) play host to second-place Saddleback (14-7, 5-2) Wednesday, then travel to third-place Cypress (18-9, 4-3). Both games are at 7 p.m.

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Saddleback is the surprise of the conference. Coach Jack Single’s Gauchos have two injured starters but still managed to rise in the standings. Led by Maureen Skehan, Saddleback has won four in a row. Skehan, a freshman guard from Villa Park High, is averaging 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Golden West has won nine in a row and 12 of 13. The Rustlers’ five losses have been by a total of 12 points. Golden West has won five consecutive conference titles.

The Rustlers are averaging 80 points a game and are led by sophomore forward Julie Murdent, who averages 21 points. Deana Itow, a sophomore guard, is averaging 16 points and Farrah Magee, a reserve freshman forward, is averaging 12 points.

They each had 14 points when Golden West beat Saddleback, 63-39, Jan. 6.

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Cypress’ season took a turn for the worse Friday when sophomore center Sara Works was hit in the knee late in the first half and didn’t return. She is out indefinitely. Works, who is averaging a conference-best 28 points, will be examined again this week.

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Sole success: Rancho Santiago trainer Gary Kinney was cheering for Steve Young in Sunday’s Super Bowl. After all, both went to BYU. But they share another bond.

In the fall of 1980, Kinney was doing graduate work at BYU and the future 49er was a freshman playing on the junior varsity team.

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During a game at Nevada Las Vegas, one of Young’s shoes came apart and there were no spares close to his size on the bench. So Kinney gave his turf shoes to Young, who finished the game in them. Kinney wore Young’s shoes the rest of the day.

“I should have kept them and had them bronzed, especially after (Sunday),” Kinney said. “But I think I gave them back. Steve Young is a great kid . . . He once wore my shoes. I guess that’s my claim to fame.”

Notes

Cypress has hired two walk-on coaches to take over the men’s and women’s swimming teams. Dennis Ploessel, who has been a swimming and water polo assistant three years, is the men’s coach. He replaces Jim Steveson, who stepped down. Larry Beidler will handle the women’s team while Jan Isenberger is on medical leave.

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