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La Jolla High girls basketball program brings together new coach and ‘strong core’ of players

La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball coach Bill Busch says his continuing players will lead the program to success.
New La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball coach Bill Busch says his continuing players will lead the program to success.
(Provided by Bill Busch)
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Looking to mix old and new as a recipe for success, the La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball team welcomed a new coach this season and continued with a core of players who have been with the program for years.

With three sophomores, three seniors and “a bunch of juniors,” new coach Bill Busch said this team could pave the way for La Jolla High to have a “world class” basketball program.

“The reason I took over the job is I coached all these girls on [junior varsity] and I know them and know how talented and coachable they are,” he said. “We’re playing a lot of Division II and III teams when we are a Division IV team, and we are holding our own.”

“We’re really connected this year because the team has been mostly the same for a while,” said senior co-captain Audrey Walton. “We show up and put in the effort. We also bond and make sure everyone on the team connects with another player.”

Co-captain Grayson Lejuwaan said the team is focused on working at practice and “staying positive but competitive.” She said she is looking forward to entering league play in February.

“We’ve played a few teams and won against teams of higher divisions, so it’ll be fun to get some against teams at our level,” Lejuwaan said. She credits Busch with “changing the vibe” of the team.

The La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball team
The La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball team has several members who have played together in past years.
(Bill Busch)

Busch was the girls JV basketball coach the past three years and took over varsity this season, but he has a history of coaching sports that goes back decades.

Having lived in La Jolla in the 1980s with children who went through its schools, Busch got into teaching so he could coach sports. “In those days, you had to be a teacher to be a coach,” he said.

“You can be a good student if all you do is study, and you can be a good athlete if all you do is practice. To do both means understanding how to balance those things and making choices.”

— Bill Busch

However, Busch soon was recruited to coach women’s basketball in Australia, where he lived for two years.

Busch then moved back to San Diego and taught at Mission Bay High School in Pacific Beach, but the class he taught was taken off the curriculum and he found himself out of a job. After years in the financial planning field, he got back into sports when schools stopped requiring coaches to be teachers.

Busch said he is a “big proponent of the student-athlete.”

“You can be a good student if all you do is study, and you can be a good athlete if all you do is practice,” he said. “To do both means understanding how to balance those things and making choices.”

To reinforce that, he assigns his athletes “homework” — to ask a question in every class every day.

On the court, he pushes his players to challenge themselves and strives to teach them to be smart in their game.

“You don’t teach them what to play, you teach them how to play,” he said. “We’re in the City League again and there are some challenges up ahead. They have a lot of tenacity in their approach to the game. They will battle anybody, and that is going to get them through the season.”

The group is relatively young, and “we lost a lot of experience last year, but we got experience back,” Busch said. “Eight of our 13 players are returners, so we have a strong core. The younger players will provide stability going forward. ... We have a talented team that is going to play hard.”

The Vikings will visit La Jolla rival The Bishop’s School at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at 7607 La Jolla Blvd. ◆