Woodbridge Girls Face Another Tall Order in Basketball Playoffs

Times Staff Writer

The Woodbridge High School girls' basketball team finds itself up against a taller, more physical team in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Section 4-A playoffs.

So what else is new?

It has become something of a rallying point in the past two seasons for undersized Woodbridge (21-5), which meets Katella (23-3) at 7:30 tonight at Katella.

Last season, few gave Woodbridge much chance after the second round of the playoffs. But the Warriors survived their height disadvantage and advanced to the 2-A championship game, although they lost to a big Chino team, 47-41.

"We try to rally behind it because there is nothing else to rally around," Woodbridge Coach Eric Bangs said.

Well, that's not entirely true.

Junior guard Leslie Rathbun, the team's top player, averages 20 points and six steals a game. But she is just 5-feet-7.

Lisa Wehren, a 5-8 senior forward, averages 13 points and nine rebounds and Gina Krouse, a 5-10 senior center, contributes six points and eight rebounds a game.

The trio must find a way to contend with Katella's 5-10 Joni Easterly, who leads the Knights with a 22.8-point average.

Wendy Carlson, a 6-1 center, and Margaret Harker, a 5-10 forward, are the Knights' other front-line players.

"Our team speed is better," Bangs said. "But you can't run without the ball. We have to create turnovers and get the rebounds."

In another 4-A game:

La Habra (19-6) at Palos Verdes (23-3): La Habra faces a monumental task against top-seeded Palos Verdes, which has the 6-foot-5 Burge twins. Heidi, a forward, averages 23.9 points and 14.1 rebounds. Heather, the center, averages 21 points and 12.4 rebounds. They helped Palos Verdes win the 3-A title last season.

In the 5-AA:

Fountain Valley (18-8) at Long Beach Poly (19-6): Fountain Valley won the teams' meeting in December, 51-40, at Poly. Stacey Hisaka made 15 of her 21 points from the free-throw line. Hisaka, a guard, leads the team in scoring with an average of 13.3 points.

In the 5-A:

Ocean View (24-3) at Ontario (24-1): Junior center Jenny Sullivan leads Ocean View with an average of 14.5 rebounds. Heidi Hasemann, who had a team-high 14 points in Ocean View's 45-38 second-round victory over Capistrano Valley, adds depth to the Seahawks' front line. Ontario, seeded fourth, squeaked past Canyon Springs, 59-48, in the second round.

In the 4-AA:

Mission Viejo (22-4) at North Torrance (16-9): The Diablos, the top-seeded team, are in the quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons. For that, Coach Steve Asay can thank one of the more balanced lineups in the division. Three players score in double figures, led by center Jennifer Rohrig, who averages 13.5 points. Rohrig also gets a team-leading 7.6 rebounds a game. Guard Tina Ranker leads the Southern Section in assists with 11.1.

Downey (18-6) at Valencia (17-9): Downey was one of the few teams in the division not to get a bye in the first round. And it had to get past San Clemente, 64-49, to catch up to the rest of the division. Downey then upset fourth-seeded Tustin in the second round Friday. Valencia, one of the division's dark horses, is led by Kristen McDonald, who averages 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. She was named the Orange League's co-MVP.

University (20-6) at Camarillo (20-6): Only two seasons ago, University had a 9-14 record. This season, the Trojans were co-champions of the Sea View League. Shelly Davis, a senior forward, has led the team's comeback. Nichole Victoria, a 5-6 junior guard, leads Camarillo with a 19.1-point average.

Westlake (18-8) at Canyon (20-4): Although Canyon got the No. 2 seeding, the team is something of an unknown in the playoffs. Forward Keri Erkenbrack averages in double figures for points (20.2) and rebounds (10.1). Sheri Rhyne, who had 11 blocked shots in a game against Foothill earlier this season, adds to Canyon's strength inside. Westlake has advanced to the quarterfinals despite being an at-large team from the Marmonte League and having to play a first-round game.

In the 3-A:

St. Lucy's (19-8) at Brea-Olinda (24-2): Top-seeded Brea breezed past Sierra Vista in the second round Friday. The Wildcats should do the same here. Aimee McDaniel, the Orange League co-MVP, and Tammy Blackburn form one of the top backcourts in the Southern Section. McDaniel averages 15.1 points and Blackburn 12.6. St. Lucy's advanced this far despite being the No. 3 team from the Baseline League.

Atascadero (18-5) at La Quinta (22-3): A long day of travel isn't the only hurdle Atascadero must face. The Greyhounds must find a way to slow guard/forward/center Amy Jalewalia, the Southern Section's leading scorer with a 31-point average. La Quinta's Heather Brannan adds steady play in support of Jalewalia.

In the Small Schools:

Lone Pine (11-8) at Liberty Christian (16-4): Lone Pine is another team making a long journey to stop a high-scoring player. Lone Pine's task is to cope with Liberty Christian's Sharon Crouch, who averages 22.8 points, 16.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

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