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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Pacifica HS--(Nov. 26, 1999)

This team preview, like the rest of the Garden Grove League team previews, is admittedly short in length, and it's also short on much analysis or substance when it comes to the players listed on each team's roster.  We have not spoken with Bob Becker, the sixth year head coach of the Mariners, but as we've said many times before, we simply don't have the resources to physically speak with every single coach of every team in the Southern Section prior to the start of the season in order to get these previews out before play starts.  There are more than 500 schools in the Southern Section alone, and we just can't talk to everyone.  We'll continue to do previews and issue updates on teams during the season, but for now this will have to do. And  thankfully, we can rely a bit on the traditional media, such as the LA Times and the Orange County Register.  This preview is based in large part upon information published in the Orange County Register on November 25, 1999 in a preview of the Orange League written by Curtis Zupke,  on information contained in the Times as compiled by Paul McLeod and Peter Yoon, and other staff writers, and upon information we've accumulated throughout the summer and last season. 

The Orange County Register has picked the Pacifica Mariners to finish second in the Garden Grove League this season, just behind Bolsa Grande, but ahead of Los Amigos, Santiago, Rancho Alamitos, La Quinta, and Garden Grove, in that order. Last year, Pacifica finished first in the league, with a 27-2 record overall and a 12-0 league run.  The team played in the Division II-A Southern Section playoffs, making it all the way to the quarterfinals.  In the first round, the Mariners defeated Bonita 52-47, then got Atascadero 68-52 before falling to cross-county rival Ocean View 55-46.  The school is governed by the Garden Grove Unified School District, and has an enrollment of 1650 4 year, coed students.  Bob Becker, going into his sixth season as head coach has compiled a 130-43 record, and those 27 wins last season didn't hurt a bit to improve his book.

In it's high school basketball preview edition, the LA Times Orange County Edition wrote about several teams who have achieved "homegrown" success on the basketball court, with teams comprised almost entirely of kids from the same neighborhoods who've grown up together rather than relying on transfers or big-time names. Pacifica was one such school on which the Times article focused.  Here's what Peter Yoon of the Times wrote in the November 23 edition of the Times OC edition:

Just call them throwbacks.  They're high school boys' basketball teams comprised entirely of kids from the same neighborhood who grew up together.   At a time when more high school students than ever are transferring, there are several examples of teams whose athletes take pride in staying together, playing together--and winning. 

Pacifica, Laguna Beach and Newport Harbor each won at least 20 games last season with players who began in their systems as freshmen.  Their accomplishments help to quell, at least in some quarters, the belief that high-profile, multitalented transfers are required to win in high school basketball. "The coaches out there doing the recruiting and getting the transfers would love to make everyone believe that that's what you have to do to compete," Pacifica Coach Bob Becker said. "But it's simply not the case."  Becker's Mariners were a poster squad for home-grown success last season. With a post player only 6 feet 1, they finished 26-2 and went undefeated in the Garden Grove League. The seniors on that team didn't lose a league game at any level as they rose to the varsity, Becker said.  "It shows that if your heart is in something, some pretty amazing things can happen," said Pacifica senior guard Eric Larson, who had significant playing time last season. "You don't have to build an all-star team to have a good experience in your sports life." 

Building programs with local talent has its on-court advantages. Players become familiar with each other's tendencies, from knowing where a teammate will be during a complex play to recognizing the meaning of a simple glance. . . . Players who remain at one school through their prep careers often have a difficult time comprehending the motives of those who transfer.  "I think some of those people have lost sight of what is important," Larson said. "Like friends and loyalty to school. Why would anyone leave their friends just because they think another team is better?" 

Admittedly, the Mariners did have a remarkable run last season.  They've also won three of the last five league titles. But whether they can repeat against some tough competition this year in the league is anyone's guess.   Still, the Times' preview article suggests that they are "reloading" with players like Damon Gohata, a senior guard. Likewise the Times also notes that Jeff McLaughlin, a forward on the team last year will return, but then the Times notes that "They averaged two minutes of playing time per game last season."    Er, um, ok. The Times also notes that Kevin Cook (6'-0" Sr. G) a senior who has played soccer the past two seasons, joins seven newcomers up from the JV team. The Register's preview was a little more in depth and featured what looks like the entire roster, but it also candidly explained the reasons why Pacifica is not the favorite in the league this year:  "The Mariners lost their starting backcourt and will be challenged to defend their league title , especially with [Eric] Larson out indefinitely with a knee injury."  

Here's the Pacifica roster for this season:

Erik Larson 6'-0" Sr. G
Damon Gohata 5'-8" Sr. G
Jeff McLaughlin 6'-3" Sr. F
Rey Santos 5'-10" Jr. G
Kelly Gurnea 6'-3" Jr. F/G
Kevin Cook 5'-11" Sr. G
David Lim 6'-2" Sr. F
Napoleon Jackson 6'-0" Sr. F

Pacifica has a moderately ambitious preseason planned:   From November 29-Dec. 4 they'll be at the Bolsa Grande Tournament;  From December 7-11, they'll play at the Los Alamitos Tournament, and then they take off for Hawaii, where they'll play at a tournament in Maui from December 20-23.  We don't know a thing about the tournament, but we're pretty sure they're not talking about the Iolani Classic; still if it's the one we think it is, they should be facing some good competition.  The league season starts Jan 5.  Here's the Pacifica schedule for 1999-2000

Nov 29-Dec 4 @ Bolsa Grande Tournament
Dec. 7-11 @ Los Alamitos tournament
Dec. 20-23 @ Maui, HI
Jan 5 *Santiago
Jan 7 @*Bolsa Grande
Jan 12 *La Quinta
Jan 14 @*Los Amigos
Jan 19 *Rancho Alamitos
Jan 21 @* Garden Grove
Jan 24 @ Santiago
Jan 26 *Bolsa Grande
Feb 2 @*La Quinta
Feb 4 *Los Amigos
Feb 8 @*Rancho Alamitos
Feb 10 *Garden Grove

 The Swish Award
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