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Boys' basketball: Ocean View Coach Jim Harris dies

October 24, 2011 |  8:24 am

Jim Harris, who coached basketball for 33 years at Huntington Beach Ocean View, winning 19 league championships and three Southern Section titles, died Sunday night after a bout with liver cancer. He was 67.

Harris was so beloved and respected in his community that a candlelight vigil was held on his block earlier this month and a prayer service took place in the school gym. School officials were meeting with players and students Monday morning to inform them of Harris' passing.

Born April 13, 1944, in Kearney, Ne., Harris was the first and only boys' basketball coach in Ocean View history. For five years he also coached girls' basketball, winning four league titles. At one point, his son, Jim Jr., played for him and his daughter, Kim, served as an assistant coach. Later, Jim Jr. became co-coach.

Two years ago, his team, behind Avery Johnson and Anthony Brown, made it to Sacramento before losing in the Division III state championship game to Sacred Heart Cathedral, 62-55.

He had a 665-265 career record. He gave a start to a young coach named Gary McKnight years ago, hiring him as a freshman coach. McKnight went on to coach at Santa Ana Mater Dei and become the winningest coach in state history.

"In my early days, he was very instrumental in my development," McKnight said. "He showed me the work ethic you had to do as a basketball coach. We all have a lot of mentors, and he was at the top. We lost a great one."

He is survived by his wife, Sandi, five children and grandchildren.

A celebration of Harris' life will be held on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. in the school gym.

-- Eric Sondheimer