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Local girls’ basketball teams hope for deep run with arrival of playoffs

Local girls’ basketball teams hope for deep run with arrival of playoffs
Finley Garnett, seen driving to the basket in a game against Los Alamitos on Jan. 9, has helped Edison High's girls' basketball team develop a strong frontcourt presence this season. (Drew A. Kelley)

The CIF Southern Section will release the girls' basketball playoff brackets on Sunday at 1 p.m.

How appropriate, considering the pageantry and popularity of Selection Sunday during March Madness.

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In truth, the afternoon likely will not be privy to the same mystery and drama of teams anxiously waiting to see if they will make the tournament field. Area teams should not be shocked by where they end up in the draw, especially given the fact that all local teams with a record above .500 earned one of their league's automatic playoff berths.

Still, there are some questions yet to be answered. Edison (16-10, 8-2 in league) finished second in the Sunset League, and Chargers coach Sara Brown would like to see her team rewarded.

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"I'm hoping for a home playoff game," she said. "The girls earned it."

Edison was on the road for its first-round loss to Mira Costa in the Division 1A playoffs last year. The Chargers are now in Division 2A.

Things were different this season, though. The Chargers had several significant transfers last year, but the team only had its league games to incorporate the additions of Finley Garnett and Hope Nguyen.

Senior center Ashley Niemand and Garnett, a senior power forward, have formed a dynamic frontcourt duo that regularly posts double-doubles.

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"Last year was the first year that we had Finley, and she had to sit out a long time because of volleyball," Brown said. "[The volleyball team] won that [Division I] state championship.

"It was tough for [Niemand and Garnett] to gel because of the transfer and because of playing volleyball. This year, they have finally clicked and have been playing together very well."

Corona del Mar (11-14, 6-4) will make a return to the playoffs after going 4-21 overall and 1-9 in Pacific Coast League play last year. The Sea Kings have excelled in rebounding, led by the efforts of junior center Tatiana Bruening.

Second-year coach Brason Alexander said his team has been playing its best basketball over the last two months. It is no coincidence that the team got healthier over that stretch, with junior small forward Malia Halafuka returning from a dislocated left knee.

Halafuka had eight points and 13 rebounds in the Sea Kings' regular-season finale at Irvine.

"She was phenomenal [Thursday] night," Alexander said of Halafuka. "She's starting to really impact games. She's getting more comfortable. Early on, we had to monitor her time, not just how long she played, but how long she was on her feet.

"Every game, I think her and I both get a little more comfortable letting her minutes extend. We're still going to manage her body, and that is still the number one priority, but [Thursday], she was huge."

CdM took third place in league. The Sea Kings will compete in the Division 3AA playoffs.

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Ocean View (18-8, 7-3), which finished third in the Golden West League, also qualified for the postseason in the same division.

Locals take the ice in ADHSHL All-Star games

The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League put on its seventh annual All-Star showcase at Honda Center on Wednesday night.

Several locals found the score sheet, but the most impressive performance in hockey All-Star games often comes from the goaltender who manages to best stop the onslaught of shots headed in their direction.

Huntington Beach's Josh Marin stole the show among locals at the NHL rink, recording 13 saves against the 15 shots he faced.

Oilers senior forward Evan Stapleton scored a goal, and Edison's Daniel Johnson had an assist as the Maroons outlasted the Wanderers 12-10 in the senior game.

At the junior varsity level, it was the Americans topping the Pirates 7-3. Newport-Mesa Ice King representatives Joseph Cianfrani and Nicolas Carpino registered an assist apiece in the win.

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner

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