STATE PREP BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Relaxed Point Loma Readies Its Defense

Three-thirty Thursday afternoon:

The two-time defending state girls' basketball champions are getting ready for practice. Things are getting started slowly, though. Two of the starters haven't arrived yet, and the team's biggest star is getting her ankle taped. The quick point guard doesn't feel like running much and she's complaining that she's tired. One starter is at the far end of the court shooting short jumpers by herself.

It's not exactly the scene you'd expect to see when a team is only two days away from going after its third straight state title. But at Point Loma High, that's the way it is. Easy and relaxed. Never mind that the Pointers (30-1) will meet Sacramento Grant (30-5) for the Division I championship at 6:15 tonight in the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

At 3:45:

Michelle Collum, the team's 5-foot 11-inch senior forward, comes into the gym hopping around in tune to a song she's singing. She's late, but it doesn't appear anybody cares much. Terri Mann, the other forward and a Parade All-American has finally stopped kidding around long enough to let her coach, Lee Trepanier--just plain "T" to the players--finish taping her ankle. Now, it's Collum's turn.

"You're late," Trepanier says. "I think this will cost you five suicide (runs). You guys have got to start getting serious."

Chanelle McCoy, the 5-2 starting point guard, is sitting against the wall and still doesn't feel much like playing. The ever-busy Trepanier is having trouble getting her started.

"Chanelle, I haven't seen as much as a muscle twitch," the coach says.

He'd probably walk over and pick her up himself if he could. But the coach has a cast on his left leg and is using his crutches to prop himself up while he tapes Collum's ankle.

"If you guys think you can just go up to Oakland and win that game without any effort, you've got another guess coming," Trepanier yells. "Let's get serious right now."

Despite their coach's urging, it's still tough for this team to get serious. After all, Point Loma's girls are 87-1 during the last three seasons and the three-time defending San Diego Section champions.

The Pointers outscored their opposition by an average 56.5 points per game this season. A lot of teams in the county didn't score 56.5 points in a game.

"A lot of people think we're a bunch of big heads," said Mann, who led the team with a 27.0 scoring average this season and who is considered one of the finest high school players in the country. "We have a lot of fun, but we know when we have to get down to business."

It's now 4 p.m. and 6-4 center Jessica Benton finally arrives at practice. The team has been running for quite some time now, and Trepanier decides to put some pressure on his senior center.

"Jessica has two free throws. If she makes them both, we're done running. If not, we've got 10 more laps to do."

Talk about pressure. Benton made them both.

"I'll tell you one thing, it would take a heck of a good team to beat this one," Trepanier said later as he presided over some fast break drills. "We had some problems getting practice started today, but these kids are enjoying this week. Everybody's interviewing them and they're having fun. They like to show off a bit."

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