PREP BASKETBALL : Brea-Olinda Polishes Its Game to Beat Loara

Times Staff Writer

The beat goes on at Brea-Olinda High School as the girls basketball team cruised to its 26th consecutive win of the season with a convincing 67-50 win over Loara Saturday night in the Southern Section 3-A division playoffs.

A near-capacity crowd of 1,150 saw the Wildcats make 17 of 18 free throw attempts and go on a 16-4 scoring spurt in the second half to advance to the semifinals on Tuesday night. Brea will meet Riverside Poly, with the winner advancing to the championship game on Friday night in the Long Beach Arena.

If the Wildcats play with the same aggressive style and continue to shoot well against Riverside Poly, it's a good bet they'll be making their third straight appearance in a championship game.

Coach Mark Trakh has gone 0-for-2 in title games, but he was diligently working on the little things that spell a champion against a good Loara team. The Wildcats may be undefeated and ranked 16th in the nation by USA Today, but their game needed a little polishing. Some of the finer points of the Mark Trakh school of basketball included:

- The Delay: Trakh called a timeout with 1:59 left in the game and his team holding a 17-point lead. When the Wildcats returned to the court, they worked on their four-corner delay game and scored twice in the time remaining.

- The Last Shot: The Wildcats held a 33-23 lead with 19 seconds remaining in the first half as point guard Char Scheussler brought the ball up the court. She stopped near the bench at midcourt until Trakh instructed her to dribble up court. Scheussler stopped near the top of the key with two seconds showing on the clock and calmly hit an 18-footer for a 12-point lead.

- The Designated Tip: That job belongs to 6-foot freshman Susan Tousey. Tousey handles all jumps at the beginning of each quarter, then leaves the game the first time the clock is stopped.

- The Hurry-up Offense: This was the one drill the Wildcats failed to execute. Loara turned the ball over with five seconds remaining in the third quarter under the Brea basket. The Wildcats worked the ball downcourt well, but Scheussler double-dribbled.

All this and an imposing homecourt advantage, too. Loara was visibly shaken by the partisan crowd, committing nine turnovers in the first quarter and quickly falling behind, 17-6. The Saxons managed to make a run at Brea and trimmed the big deficit to six points in the third quarter, only to see the Wildcats go on a 16-4 run.

The Wildcats' great free throw shooting was the clincher. Afterward, Trakh credited his team's defense for the victory.

"This was one of our better efforts," he said. "We worked on our defense after the Orange game ,and I think we made it tough on (Liz) Eldridge and (Shanna) Beer to score. We needed a physical game like this if we play San Gabriel. It's down to four teams now, and they'll all be tough."

Beer finished with 19 points, but failed to take a shot in the first quarter and had only eight points at halftime. Eldridge finished with only six points. Saxon guard Susan Osato had 15 points despite playing nearly three quarters with four fouls.

Sharp-shooters Carrie Egan and Jodi Kleber paced the Wildcats. Kleber scored 21 points, making 9 of 14 shot attempts. Egan added 18 points on 7 of 13 field goal attempts.

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