By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Sports Editor
FULLERTON — “We all wanted this,” said Troy High School girls basketball coach Caryn Ito. “The whole program wanted to do it, the players, coaches, the boosters. Having him gone has left a huge hole.”
The electric bustle that is normal for a night of basketball at the school’s gymnasium came to a silent halt on Jan. 28, as the Troy community paused between the girls’ and boys’ games against visiting Sunny Hills to pay tribute the their fallen assistant coach, Steve Yano, who died last September in a tragic accident at his home.
Yano’s red coach’s shirt, embroidered with his name and mounted in a frame, was retired in a ceremony held at center court. A black ribbon with his oft-heard slogan, “Let It Fly,” was laid across the shirt front.
The frame was presented to Yano’s widow, Susan, and his daughter, Stephanie, who attended the event.
“Steve was such a huge part of the program and a huge part of the girls’ lives,” explained Ito, who this season is heading the soph-frosh team.
“He was always there, whenever they needed him. I really can’t describe the loss,” she said
Once his own daughters reached high school, Yano became involved in volunteer coaching at the prep level. His commute to Troy was 40 minutes each way, and his coaching style put an emphasis on winning both on the court and in the classroom.
“You can tell how much he meant by how many people came tonight,” Ito said.
That night’s game for Troy’s girls provided little drama ahead of the ceremony. Cori Okada led the Warriors with eight points in a 57-22 rout of Sunny Hills.
Dani Aiu scored six for Troy, while Kara Ito, Lauren Ichiba and Barbara Sitanggan each had four and Hope Kakihara added two.
When it was the boys’ turn, Ryan Murase scored five points for Troy in a hard-fought victory over Sunny Hills, 55-49.
Shea Sueda had five for Fountain Valley, but his team fell to Newport Harbor, 43-39.
North Torrance took one on the chin in a Pioneer League matchup at South, 65-59. Michael Yost had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan Tang added nine for South, who moved into a tie for first place.
Kent Hirano led West with eight points as the Warriors took Torrance, 49-42. Jake Hirayama had two points in the loss.
At Cypress, Brandon Kouchi scored five points, including a three-pointer, and added two assists in a 48-41 win against visiting Western.
Michael Sun chipped in four points with two rebounds and Matthew Sun had one assist in this game. Cypress improved to third place in the Empire League with a 3-2 record.
At La Habra, Charlie Yoshitake contributed a point in Sonora’s 72-37 rout of the home team.
Earlier at the same gym, Megan Matsumoto scored three for Sonora’s girls, who also posted a win, 47-40. Lani Maehara had seven points for La Habra.
At Oak Park, Sydney Arikawa connected for five 3-pointers and finished the game with a season-high 23 points in Camarillo’s 52-25 win over the host Eagles. Clara Matsumoto had 10 points and Taylor Kariya had four for Oak Park.
In Pioneer League action, Kayla Sato netted 10 points as West Torrance continued to roll this season with a 59-30 victory over Torrance.
Bailey Kurahashi and Krysten Tachiyama each had seven points, Hayley Tanabe had six points and Camryn Morimoto added five for West.
For Torrance, Ashley Sasaki had eight points, Jordan Sakasegawa scored four, Jessica Nakakihara, Kayla Chung and Kylie Okamoto added three apiece and Teresa Hane netted two.
On Tuesday, Keilani Ikehara scored five of her 13 points in the fourth and Mira Costa handed visiting Redondo their first Bay League loss of the season, 42-36.
Lauren Tsuneishi’s would-be game-tying three-pointer with 33 seconds remaining missed the mark.
Jenna Yamada had 10 points and three steals for Peninsula, in a 62-13 drubbing of visiting Palos Verdes.
Troy photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo