This Glendora Team Steps It Up
Dan Henley heard all about the winning tradition when he applied for the job at Glendora High.
Four Southern Section championships since 1990. Three other trips to the title game. A sweet sponsorship deal with Nike.
Henley heard all about Glendora’s basketball program. Unfortunately, he was applying for the baseball job.
No Southern Section titles. Not even a trip to the final. Certainly no sponsorship deals from shoe companies.
Henley knew he was walking into a basketball school when he took the job four years ago. It’s like this at Glendora: The basketball team gets the future pros, Tracy Murray and Casey Jacobsen, to name two, and the baseball team gets ousted in the first round of the playoffs ... if it gets that far.
There have been exceptions. Aaron Rowand parlayed his power hitting into a scholarship at Cal State Fullerton and is now an outfielder with the Chicago White Sox. But even with Rowand’s 15 home runs in 1995 -- the second-most in a season in section history -- the Tartans did not advance to the championship game.
Will it change this season? It’s possible.
Glendora, ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times, is 9-0 and has shut out four teams. The Tartans average more than nine runs and have one of the top pitchers in the area, Brandon Villalobos, who has signed with Long Beach State.
Suddenly, it’s the baseball team that is trapping and pressing opponents.
“It’s a given around here that basketball’s going to be successful every year,” Henley said. “People have jokingly said it would be considered a good college program with the kind of consistency and prestige it has.
“We’re doing our best here. I like to think we can work a little harder, be a little tougher. If we can do that, maybe we can create some prestige, not taking it away from basketball, but making a name for ourselves.”
Henley’s players wanted to call him unprintable names when he first took over. A former shortstop at USC under Rod Dedeaux, Henley, 39, favored discipline. His players weren’t enthused by his 8 a.m. Saturday practices .
“He’s a discipline guy, a fundamentals guy.... There’s a couple kids that weren’t really dedicated,” said Villalobos, a senior left-hander.
The players have accepted the change. They have committed to summer and winter leagues and have adhered to fall workouts. Baseball is practically a 12-month sport at Glendora.
Funny thing, all the dedication sounds like another program on campus -- basketball.
Matt Townsend will not coach at Riverside Sherman Indian this year because he was called to active duty last month and is currently at Ft. Lewis, Wash., awaiting possible deployment to Iraq.
It wouldn’t be the first tour of duty for Townsend, 34, who served in the Bosnia conflict and has been in the Army reserves since he was 17, his sister said. Townsend left for Ft. Lewis on Feb. 16, one week after receiving notice.
“We really haven’t been able to catch up to our feelings,” said Townsend’s sister, Celeste, who works in the school’s finance department. “It has happened so fast. For Bosnia, there was a little bit more forewarning. This has been really quick.”
James Vandenburgh will coach Sherman Indian this season.
Item: Burbank won its first two games in Foothill League play.
Reaction: Burbank still has a program?
The Bulldogs, left gasping after 31 consecutive losses in league play over the last three seasons, defeated Saugus and Burbank Burroughs in one of the toughest leagues in the region.
Burbank lost last Friday to No. 18-ranked Canyon Country Canyon, 7-4, but is still 6-3 overall.
The Bulldogs, 3-21 last season, are near the top of the standings thanks to seven senior starters. It’s a pleasant switch from having game after game halted because of the 10-run rule.
“We didn’t want to be mercy-ruled this year,” said Coach Paul Marietti, in his third season. “We wanted to stay in every game and still be there in the sixth and seventh inning.
“In the past we hadn’t been there but we’re a lot better than what we’ve been doing in past seasons.”
Hacienda Heights Wilson also took part in a streak-stopper, ending Covina Charter Oak’s 39-game league winning streak with a 1-0 victory.
It was a long time coming for Coach Bill Woodard, a third-year baseball coach who also spent three years as a football assistant at Wilson.
“I’ve been coaching against them for a long time and we haven’t beaten them in anything,” Woodard said. “I told our players afterward, ‘I’m not going to give you any malarkey about this being just another game. A win against Charter Oak is a good thing for our program no matter what may come.’ ”
Charter Oak ace Chuck Tiffany, slowed by a hamstring injury, pitched only the seventh inning against Wilson (7-2, 3-0).
Tiffany, however, is expected to start at least one of the Chargers’ remaining two games against Wilson on April 11 and May 12.
Talk about winning one for the coach....
Harbor City Narbonne Coach Art Lopez had surgery March 11 to remove an inflamed gallbladder, and the Gauchos, 0-2-1 at the time, responded by winning three consecutive games in his absence.
But Narbonne lost two consecutive games since Lopez’s return.
“I hope I don’t have to have another operation to put together three wins,” Lopez joked recently.
Lopez, 34, said he had taken 15 trips to hospital emergency rooms over the last year and a half before his condition was diagnosed. It is not considered life-threatening, he said.
“It feels good to finally have it diagnosed,” said Lopez, in his seventh season at Narbonne. “We just need to win some games now.”