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A tribute to CdM's champs of '83

The underdog team whose amazing playoff run was capped with a title in girls' basketball will be honored.

February 23, 2013|By Charles H. “Chuck” Loos
  • The Corona del Mar girls' basketball program's CIF Southern Section championship banner hangs on the southern wall of the school's gym.
The Corona del Mar girls' basketball program's… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The walls of the main gym at Corona del Mar High School are covered with banners proclaiming the CIF championships won over the years by the school's athletic teams.

There are multiple blue-and-white banners for football, boys' basketball, girls' volleyball, cross-country, tennis, track and field, baseball — you name it.

There is only one for girls' basketball.

It happened in 1983 — almost 30 years ago. It was brought home by a team with only eight players that put together an amazing playoff run after finishing second in Seaview League play.

The team started the season with a new coach and not enough players to hold a full scrimmage. They played in pink T-shirts from Penney's, with iron-on numbers. Their warm-ups didn't match. They were the underdog "Hoosiers" (if you recall the movie) of girls' basketball.

What they won on March 4, 1983, at the Long Beach Arena was the CIF Southern Section Division 3A girls' basketball championship. It was a first for CdM and has never been duplicated by a CdM girls' basketball team.

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This is the story of their championship season — of how the scullery maids captured the glass slipper.

Karen Gerhard — a walk-on who had coached the CdM girls' team for three years, taking them as far as the early rounds of the CIF playoffs for the last two — had departed. She had two small children and wanted to work closer to home, so she became the girls' basketball coach at San Clemente High School.

Dave Hefferen, the walk-on boys' tennis coach at the time, was asked by then-CdM Athletic Director Ron Davis to fill the vacancy.

Hefferen had never coached a girls' basketball team. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen a girls' basketball game. He agreed to take on the challenge, though, and brought along a friend, Jim Strong, to help.

"OK, I'll coach them as I would boys," he thought to himself. "And they better be in good shape."

He knew that with such a small roster, he wouldn't have the luxury of freely substituting fresh players.

Besides, his plan was to play a fast-paced offense, pushing the ball up the court at every opportunity and to use multiple styles of defense, including a full-court press.

Conditioning would be first on the agenda. So when practice began that fall, the girls ran lines. Endlessly, it seemed. Hefferen wanted them to be able to handle the rigors of his style of play. He wanted them to be able to run for four quarters, especially during the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line.

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