Michelle Stevens remembers the day vividly. It was last summer, and she was guarding a player in the final game of an all-star trip to the People’s Republic of China. Suddenly, her opponent stopped.
“I stopped quickly, too,” Stevens said, “and my right knee just gave out.”
Fortunately, the former Westlake High star had already procured a basketball scholarship to Pepperdine University. But when her knee collapsed, so did her freshman season.
Stevens came home and tried to rehabilitate the leg but soon realized surgery was necessary. She recovered in time to play in Pepperdine’s first five games but overcompensated for the injury and pulled ligaments in her left knee.
“I decided after that I was going to redshirt,” Stevens said.
Last year’s Times All-Valley girls basketball MVP averaged 4.6 points and two rebounds in her abbreviated college debut but is looking ahead to bigger and better things next season.
“I’ll be playing next year, without a doubt,” Stevens said. “I’m lifting weights now and getting my legs and knees stronger. It’s like starting all over again, but I’m going to give it 100%.”
Two other members of last year’s Times All-Valley team won scholarships to NCAA Division I schools; two went out for college ball and quit; two finished up their high school careers by earning honors on this year’s All-Valley team; two led their high school teams to league titles as juniors, and one played junior college basketball before quitting the team.
Where are they now?
Monica Burke, Hart--The 5-6 guard was the leading scorer on 1984-85 Times All-Valley team with a 22.6 average, and she accepted a scholarship to Cal State Northridge. Burke never played at CSUN, however, quitting the team after several practices.
“Coming out of high school, she had a lot of pressures on her,” Northridge Coach Leslie Milke said. “She felt the walls were closing in on her. She ended up quitting the team.
“It wasn’t an attitude problem; she’s a good kid, a real hard worker. I just think she needed some time off. I think she made the right decision.”
Kippie Brown, Thousand Oaks--The 5-8 guard, the lowest scorer on last year’s Times All-Valley team with a 12.8 average, received a four-year scholarship to UC Irvine. Brown sprained the top of her left foot in Irvine’s third game and missed nine games.
“It was a freak accident,” Brown said. “I was going up for a layup on a fast break and I twisted away from the defender and twisted it. The doctor said I’d probably be better off if I had broken it because a sprain takes twice as long to heal.
“It was real frustrating for me.”
Brown was one of five women injured on an Irvine team that finished 14-14 and 7-7 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. She played in 19 games, averaging three points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists. She averaged 16 minutes per game.
Cathi Cotti, Bell-Jeff--The six-foot center averaged 22.5 points her senior year in high school and attended Loyola-Marymount University last fall. Although she wasn’t offered a scholarship, Cotti tried out for the women’s basketball team but quit after a week.
“I guess I just wasn’t ready to play college ball,” Cotti said. “It was a big step ahead.
“I miss it a lot. I was stupid. I’m thinking about going out again next year.”
Diane DeCree, Kennedy--One of two sophomores on the 1984-85 Times All-Valley team, DeCree was one of four juniors named to this year’s unit. The 6-1 forward averaged 17 points and 17 rebounds a game as Kennedy won the City 4-A title and stretched its Valley 4-A League consecutive victory string to 80 games.
Decree, who was named to the City all-tournament team, scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Kennedy’s 61-52 victory over Washington in the 4-A final.
Ilene Hauser, Alemany--The former San Fernando Valley League MVP accepted a four-year scholarship to San Diego State but got little opportunity to demonstrate her skills. Hauser played in 23 of 31 games and started two, but averaged only six minutes per game.
For the season, Hauser averaged 0.5 points and 0.4 rebounds. In her best game against Top 20-ranked Rutgers, she came off the bench to score four points and hand out five assists.
“There’s so much of a difference between college and high school basketball,” Hauser said. “When I was in high school, I was one of the quickest players, and now I’m definitely one of the slowest.
“I know what I have to do this summer to play more next year--work on my quickness, my speed, and my overall game.”
Hauser will coach the U.S. girls basketball team at the Junior Maccabiah Games this summer.
Michelle Kirby, El Camino Real--The 6-2 center, who averaged 18.3 points in earning All-Valley honors last year, returned from a preseason accident to make the second team this year.
Kirby was hit by a car last April while walking across a street and tore ligaments in her ankle. She went through five casts, the last of which came off in mid-June. Two and a half months of therapy later, she came out for basketball.
“I just tried to be cautious and I messed up a lot,” Kirby said. “The doctors said that if I fell on it, they would have to put a pin in my leg and it would be hard for me to play again.”
Kirby averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds a game. She had a high of 18 points against Fairfax.
Andrea Knapp, Louisville--The 6-2 junior center earned All-Valley first-team honors for the second straight year. Knapp’s scoring average was four points higher this season (22.5) and most responsible for taking the Royals (25-5) to the Southern Section 3-A semifinals.
She averaged 12 rebounds a game and saved her best for the playoffs, averaging 24.5 points in three games.
Desiree Mims, Reseda--The 6-0 center, who averaged 17 points her senior year at Reseda, had a difficult time making the transition to college ball. She attended Valley College, where she received little playing time and quit the team and school in December.
“She was a great athlete--the best athlete we had,” Valley Coach Jim Stephens said. “But she wasn’t playing much and she was a having a ton of problems--school problems, family problems.
“She just had trouble coming around to the discipline and structure of the program. She was consistently coming to practice late. It was best she left. If she hadn’t, I probably would have had to ask her to leave.”
Stacy Parson, Kennedy--The 5-7 senior guard was named first-team All-Valley for the second consecutive year. Parson led the Cougars to the City 4-A title and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. The Cougars were runners-up a year ago.
Parson averaged 21.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in leading Kennedy to its eighth straight league championship.
Girls All-Valley Second Team
Name School Ht. Yr. Pos. Scoring Lisa Magallenes Thousand Oaks 6-0 Sr. Ctr. 14.9 Debra Rabin Royal 5-9 Sr. Fwd. 21.3 Voviette Morgan El Camino Real 5-9 Sr. Fwd. 13.3 Michele Kirby El Camino Real 6-3 Sr. Ctr. 14.0 Paula Cooper Simi Valley 5-11 Jr. Fwd. 9.1 Tammy Hobson Rio Mesa 5-7 Sr. Grd. 13.2 Felicia Kelly San Fernando 5-5 Sr. Grd. 12.0 LaTrelle Whitmore North Hollywood 5-8 Sr. Grd. 16.2 Wyndee Bailey Kennedy 5-6 Sr. Grd. 11.7 Kim Powers Burroughs 5-7 Jr. Fwd. 14.3 Carla Van Gorp Oak Park 5-10 Sr. Fwd. 16.1 Diane Nicholls Cleveland 5-10 Sr. Fwd. 14.1 Shawn Price Van Nuys 5-10 Sr. Ctr. 16.5 Alicia Morton Taft 5-9 Sr. Fwd. 23.0 Ariana Lallone Buckley 5-9 Sr. Ctr. 16.2