Al Walin, boys' basketball coach at Magnolia, received good news Sunday. His Sentinels had received an at-large bid into the Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs.
His first reaction?
"Seven months! Seven months!" Walin said.
Huh? Seven months to what?
"Complete remission," Walin said.
Walin, the Sentinel coach the past 21 years, was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 1/2 years ago. In September, he will be given a clean bill of health.
"I feel great," Walin said. "Things couldn't be better."
And the playoffs?
"That's nice too," he said.
Girls' basketball: Whatever chance Trabuco Hills had for getting an at-large playoff bid was lost because of a paperwork snafu. The paperwork that was supposed to go to the Southern Section offices never got there, according to Coach Howard Stephens.
"It meant that Capistrano Valley got in and we didn't--even though we finished higher in league," said Stephens, whose team finished 16-9 overall and fourth (4-6) in the South Coast League.
Stephens said he had received the papers last Tuesday, filled them out and handed them to a secretary on Friday to be faxed to the section office. From there the tale gets hazy.
"I've been getting several stories," Stephens said. "The secretary said she sent it Friday. But when I contacted (section Commissioner) Dean Crowley to find where we were, he told me we weren't in. They had considered us, but the bottom line was they didn't have our paperwork and they did not have enough information to make a decision with. So they went with Capistrano Valley. That's how I found out."
The news leaves Stephens in the difficult position of having to explain.
"I've got a lot of angry parents calling. And it was a very tearful day with the girls," Stephens said. "It was the best (girls') team the school has had, and now the kids have to stay home."
Girls' soccer: Three county teams--Aliso Niguel, Magnolia and Westminster--qualified for the section playoffs for the first time, but the Lions have made the most impressive turnaround.
Last season, Westminster (9-5-1) didn't win a game and lost every Sunset League contest until tying Huntington Beach in the season finale. That was the first time the Lions had not lost a league game since Coach Tim Boyd took over the team in 1990.
Boyd, the school's track and field coach and an assistant football coach, stuck around only because no one would take over.
This season, however, the Lions got a break; they were moved out of the tough Sunset League and into the Golden West, where they finished third. Also Boyd purchased the team a set of uniforms; Westminster used to have only one set for home and away games.
"That was this year's goal: to look good, make it to the playoffs and look good," Boyd said.
Westminster plays at Laguna Hills (11-7-3) in a Division II wild-card game Wednesday.
Staff writers Martin Beck and Mike Terry contributed to this story.