by Rik Tod Johnson
Troy Fregoso, the new sophomore boys basketball coach for Fullerton Union High School, has a family with a deep history at the school. His great uncle Joe Juarez (Class of ’43) was born on a ranch where the Fullerton courthouse now sits, and another, Eddie Duran, was an alumnus. Four of his great aunts, Rachel, Cora, Novel, and Betty, attended Fullerton thereafter, while their sister Alice, Troy’s paternal grandmother, attended Garden Grove High School in the 1950s.
Parts of that history melded together on Friday night, February 25, as Fregoso found himself standing on the sidelines as the Garden Grove H.S. Argonauts hosted Fullerton Union for the CIF-SS 4AA Varsity Boys Championship match. Just last year, Fregoso was playing as a senior with some of the players he is now helping to coach. “A year ago, I was the one preparing my body and mind for the game; now I’m behind the scenes with one of the greatest basketball minds I’ve ever met.”
The match itself was a historic moment for both teams. Fullerton Union had not been in the CIF title game since 1959, and Garden Grove has never been in the final in its 101 years of existence. The remembrance of such history plays an important part for Fullerton Union, which was established in 1893, and is proudly displayed in the lobby of its own recently built new gym.
On the way to the CIF final, Fullerton Union had to knock off three league champions, including the #1, #4, and #5 seeded teams. Head coach Erik Kamrath knows how tough it has been for his team to reach this point. “They have had to overcome some very tough game situations. The players have been very resilient, giving themselves a chance to win every night.”
As Friday’s game got underway, Fullerton set the tempo with an immediate three, but Garden Grove’s strength on the offensive glass allowed for multiple second-chance points throughout the first half. While Fullerton’s starting forward got hot late in the second, Grove still went into the locker room at halftime with a ten-point lead.
Fullerton’s attempt in the third at a full court press was countered swiftly, so they switched to a match-up zone, leading to a small comeback. Fullerton ended up down two going into the fourth, where the game turned into a shootout. A long-range bomb by the Garden Grove Argonauts put them up by three with less than a minute left. Grove ran a set that led to a defensive misplay by Fullerton. With the Argonauts now on top by five. Fullerton fought valiantly that last minute to narrow the margin, but time was against them.
Garden Grove won the CIF trophy 54-50 over Fullerton, but that hasn’t gotten Coach Kamrath down. “We knew that if we put a quality product on the floor, people would come out because of the strong Fullerton traditions and alumni support. We took another step forward in making Fullerton a contender every season.”
“I have been continuously impressed with how hard Coach Kamrath’s works,” Fullerton Union principal Laura Rubio said. “He has turned this team around in three years, mostly during the pandemic. Between the great coaching and the heart and talent of the team, I see a bright future for Fullerton Union basketball!”
As for Fregoso, he has been part of that bright future now both on and off the court. “A winning mentality has not engulfed Fullerton like this in a long time, all due to the tremendous job by Coach Kamrath, who has developed an entirely new culture and outlook for Fullerton Union High School basketball. Go Tribe!”
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