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Brea Olinda, Troy rivalry has deep connections
The top levels of Orange County girls basketball are so interconnected it's like a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Let's call it Six Degrees of Kevin Kiernan, the coach of top-ranked Mater Dei.
Roger Anderson is a 1983 Brea Olinda High graduate, who used to help out longtime Ladycats coach Mark Trakh with stats and practices when he was in high school. Anderson ended up becoming an assistant coach for Jeff Sink at Brea Olinda in 1999-2000, and he went on to replace Kiernan as head coach at Troy in 2007.
Kim Cram-Torres was an assistant coach for Kiernan at Troy from 1998-03 before taking the head coaching job at Villa Park, where she led the Spartans to the CIF-SS finals in 2006. That team lost to Kiernan's Warriors in the championship game. Cram-Torres took the head coaching job at Brea Olinda last season – replacing Sink – and she led the Ladycats to the CIF-SS Division 1AA finals before running into Kiernan's Monarchs.
Anderson, the Brea alum, will try to lead No. 2 Troy to victory when the Warriors face Cram-Torres, the former Troy assistant, and the No. 3 Ladycats in a nonleague game today at 7 p.m. at Troy High.
Maybe this is more like Six Degrees of Brea Olinda or Six Degrees of Troy.
"I'm a Brea grad who goes all the way back to when the Brea Ladycat program started," Anderson said. "My travel ball coach was Coach Trakh. I used to help Coach Trakh with the girls basketball. He used to let me hang around and keep stats for him and all sorts of things. So that's where I got my first coaching bug."
Back when Anderson was an assistant for Sink at Brea and Cram-Torres was an assistant for Kiernan at Troy, the rivalry between the Ladycats and Warriors was developing into one of the best in the county. Brea was the gold standard in girls basketball with its 17 CIF-SS titles and nine state championships. Kiernan was in the process of turning Troy into a powerhouse.
"We were loaded and so was Troy," Anderson said. "That's when the rivalry was developing."
Kiernan said he remembers scratching and clawing to try to get Troy to a level where it could compete with Brea.
"Wow, the Troy-Brea rivalry," Kiernan said. "We worked so hard to make it a rivalry. Hours and hours in the gym with one goal: Get to Brea's level and beat them. ...
"The great thing about Brea is they have been so good for so long, they set the bar for excellence in O.C. basketball. There would be no state titles at Troy or Mater Dei if not (for) Brea and the desire to catch them."
Brea has won the past three meetings against Troy by a total of seven points, including last season's 53-51 victory. Troy hasn't beaten Brea since its 72-36 victory in 2006.
"I have such a spot in my heart for Troy," Cram-Torres said. "It's where I started out and then down the line to end up at Brea ... It's going to be a really hard game."
Anderson had some mighty big shoes to fill when he replaced Kiernan at Troy in 2007. Kiernan went 317-33 with 11 undefeated league titles, five CIF-SS titles and three state championships in 11 seasons as the Warriors coach. The Freeway League winning streak that began during Kiernan's tenure is now 167 consecutive games. Brea holds the CIF-SS record with 183 consecutive league victories from 1987-06.
"Truthfully, that's why I went (to Troy)," Anderson said. "I liked that. I wanted to be able to continue what Kevin was doing to the best that I can do. ... We haven't won the championships, but that's because Kevin is winning them (at Mater Dei). But we're right there."
"Trying to continue the tradition of what he has built is what I was after." Cram-Torres had similar massive shoes to fill when she replaced Sink at Brea last season. Sink led Brea to 11 CIF-SS titles and four state championships in 17 seasons.
"Roger and Kim are both keeping traditions alive, while also establishing themselves and putting their stamp on their programs," Kiernan said. "They are both very talented coaches, ambitious and hard-working.
"Sometimes it is tough taking over an established, successful program, but both Kim and Roger have handled it beautifully and they both have done a great job."
Anderson says the first time he went into Brea's gym as Troy's coach he almost sat down on the home side.
"To sit on the visitors' side of the benches was just a completely different view," Anderson said. "It was really weird."
Anderson still has fond memories of Brea, but he knows which side he will be sitting on tonight against the Ladycats.
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