One thing that makes The Times' All-Orange County girls' basketball team impressive is the players who didn't make this season's list.
You see, the level of play took a fast ride up this season.
Take Corona del Mar's Michele Williard, who led the Southern Section in rebounding, and didn't make the list. Neither did Mission Viejo's Michele Reid, South Coast League most valuable player, who led the Diablos to the 3-A quarterfinals.
Ocean View's Trina Vlachos, who averaged 19.6 points, and Dana Douty, who set the Southern Section career assist mark this season, could not crack the Top 10.
Edison's Denise Ogburn led a small Charger team to the second round of the 4-A playoffs, and Whittier Christian's Cindy Vyskocil averaged 29.1 points. They were exceptional, but . . .
"A couple of years ago you could be just a good player and get to be All-County," said Mark Trakh, Brea-Olinda coach. "Now, it takes a lot more. You've got to be more complete. It's not enough to just score anymore."
Mickey McAulay, Katella coach, who delivered an outstanding coaching performance taking the Knights, 1-19 three seasons ago, to the quarterfinals, said players and the game have improved.
"It used to be girls played basketball was for fun and recreation," she said. "But players now are much better, much more competitive. They play basketball all year, go to clinics and play in summer leagues. Girls' basketball has matured, it's much more complex. The players have matured and have become more complex right along with it."
Here's a look at the best of the best in 1985-86, based on ballots from Orange County coaches.:
Michelle Carter (Magnolia)--Carter is the Sentinels' leading career scorer with 1,800 points. She set the county scoring record this season with 781 points and the county single-game scoring record with 55 against Anaheim.
"We're talking franchise here," said John Prickett, Magnolia coach.
Carter does much more than score. She's the Sentinels' best ballhandler and is therefore expected to create her own shots.
"It's really hard to tell how good Michelle is," said Trakh. "She has to do so many things for that team. It be interesting to see her concentrate on just a couple of areas."
Carrie Egan (Brea-Olinda)--Trakh said two scouting services will rate Egan as the top perimeter shooting girl next season. She has, what Trakh calls, "a pure jumpshot," that extends to 20 feet.
"She's not quick, but she has a quick release and a great vertical leap that allows her to jump over people," Trakh said.
Gary Hunt, Western coach: "She's anything but the typical high school player. In the (3-A) final, Foothill put (Stephanie) Fleischaker on her because she's taller than Carrie. But Carrie changed her shot, changed her release point to compensate for the taller player. You just don't see too many high school girls with the ability or the brains to do that."
Stephanie Fleischaker (Foothill)--Fleischaker, the Century League most valuable player, doesn't have an enormous amount of athletic ability and doesn't score a lot of points. But she's the type of player every coach wants.
"She's Kurt Rambis reborn as a girl," said Marc Hill, Esperanza coach.
The Rambis comparison is fair on the court--though off the court she was picked as Foothill's Homecoming queen. Tough, aggressive, always the first to dive for loose balls, Fleischaker has a good touch from 10 feet.
"She gets the most out of her ability," Trakh said. "For all the great players they have at Foothill, if had one player to pick from the school, I'd take her."
Melissa Handley (Fountain Valley)--What makes her exceptional is that she combines exceptional athletic ability with an "I'd-rather-throw-myself-under-a-train-then-lose," intensity in a game.
Carol Strausburg, Barons coach, didn't start Handley part of the season. Against Ocean View Handley did not start, but scored 31 points.
"She was amazing tonight," Kelly Painter, Ocean View coach, said after that game. "But she's always great. If Carol doesn't start her from now on, I'm going to have a talk with her."
Actually, Handley's not starting had nothing to do with ability.
"It was kind of like the way the Celtics used Kevin McHale," Strausburg said. "She gave us such a charge coming off the bench."
Esperanza's Hill said: "When she comes into a game, there's an instant changeover. She can take over a game with her intensity.
Jill Matyuch (El Dorado)--A total player. Scores, rebounds, plays good defense and rebounds extremely well.
"If she's not the best in the county, she's in the top two or three," Trakh said.
With Matyuch, numbers tell the story. She averaged 25.8 points, shot 52% from the floor and 80% from the free-throw line. She also averaged 10.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.7 steals.
Hill, who coached her in the Far West Summer League where Matyuch was named most valuable player, said: "For all her scoring and one-on-one ability, she's one of the finest passers I've ever seen in high school. That sometimes gets overlooked."
Chris McFerson (Foothill)--She must be considered the county's best big player. She improved her scoring average to a team leading 13.3, and remained the most intimidating defensive force around.
"She uses her size well," Hill said. "She can dominate a game because of it."
McFerson might be the county's best big-game player. She may get only eight or 10 points against a fourth-place Century League opponent, but in games that matter, she usually is unstoppable.
"She's an enigma," Trakh said. "She kills us every time we play, and we've had some great teams."
Consider that in the Knights' 1985 3-A final victory over Brea, McFerson had 28 points and 18 rebounds. In this season's final she scored 19 points and had 20 rebounds.
Charlene Schuessler (Brea-Olinda)--An exercise in redundancy:
John Prickett, Magnolia coach, on Schuessler: "She's the most underrated player in the county."
Hill, on the same subject: "She's the most underrated player in the county."
Hunt: "She's the most underrated player in the county."
What impresses most coaches about Schuessler, and what doesn't grab a lot of headlines, is that Schuessler rarely makes mistakes. In the 3-A final, Foothill committed 22 turnovers. Schuessler committed 2.
"We got outrebounded in that game, 46-20," Trakh said. "If it wasn't for Char protecting the ball, we lose the game and the title."
What made Schuessler even more effective was her increased scoring.
"When people try to cheat on Carrie or our people inside, I love it," Trakh said. "Because I know Charlene can make the 15-foot jump shot."
Robin Seabrook (La Habra)--She's the most unrefined player of the bunch. But with some polish, Seabrook could become a dominate player. She averaged 17.8 rebounds on her way to being named the Freeway League most valuable player.
She can physically overpower opponents. In fact, so impressed were some colleges by Seabrook's ability, they contacted her about playing for them, unaware she was only a sophomore.
"Robin has all gifts," said John Koehler, La Habra coach. "She's a tremendous leaper and shoots extremely well. She can be as good as she wants."
Hill: "I don't think she knows how good she can be. With a little work, we're talking a great player."
Sharon Warmus (Esperanza)--Versatility, intelligence, intensity are hallmarks of Warmus' game. She played center as a freshman, forward as a sophomore and point guard as a junior.
"She can do just about anything," Hill said. "And her intensity, well, sometimes I think she's almost too intense if that's possible. She never gives up."
On top of those attributes, Warmus improved her shoting range this season.
"She could consistently hit shots from 17 to 18 feet out," Hill said."
Trakh: "She might be the best athlete in the county. She has great skill. Whichever college gets her, gets a lot. I don't think she's even scratched the surface of her potential. That's scary."
Melanie Williams (Western)--Hunt was asked how important Williams was to his team.
"How important was it for Dorothy to make it back to Kansas?" he said.
Williams was the Pioneers' top scorer, rebounder, assist maker and defender.
"She's the total package," Hunt said. "Put her on any team, I mean Brea and Foothill, too, and she'd be the top scorer. She's definitely a Division I college player."
Williams will attend UNLV.
"People are going to see how good she is when she gets to Las Vegas," Trakh said. "This year, you couldn't ask a kid to do anymore for a team."
Hill: "I'd pay to see her and Jill Matyuch go one-on-one. She's Division I. She can create her own shot. She's also got the quickest first step in the county. I can't believe it. It must be a 12-foot stride."
Pos. Name School Ht. Class Avg. C Michelle Carter Magnolia 6-2 Sr. 30.5 G Carrie Egan Brea-Olinda 5-8 Jr. 18.3 F Stephanie Fleischaker Foothill 5-10 Sr. 11.4 G Melissa Handley Fountain Valley 5-9 Jr. 12.5 G Jill Matyuch El Dorado 5-8 Sr. 25.8 C Chris McFerson Foothill 6-3 Sr. 13.3 G Charlene Schuessler Brea-Olinda 5-5 Sr. 12.0 F Robin Seabrook La Habra 6-0 Soph. 19.7 F Sharon Warmus Esperanza 5-11 Sr. 21.7 G Melanie Williams Western 5-8 Sr. 23.7