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Title Comes to Those Who Wait : Atascadero Falls Prey to Traffic, Then Brea in Girls’ 3-A Final

Times Staff Writer

Atascadero High School made Brea-Olinda wait for its Southern Section 3-A girls’ basketball championship Friday, but it had nothing to do with the game itself.

Atascadero’s was late arriving because the team bus encountered heavy rush-hour traffic on the 6-hour trip south from San Luis Obispo County.

The Greyhounds got to Cal Poly Pomona 15 minutes after the scheduled 5 p.m. tipoff. They were given 5 minutes to warm up, then it was time to take on top-seeded Brea.

Brea swept past the rubbery-legged Greyhounds, 69-40, without so much as a thanks-for-coming-by.

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It was the 18th consecutive victory for Brea (27-2), which ended its Southern Section season undefeated against California schools. The Wildcats’ only losses were to Oregon City, Ore., and Cony, Maine, in the Christ the King tournament in New York City.

Brea, which won its second 3-A title in four seasons, advances to the state Division III playoffs beginning Tuesday. Atascadero (20-5) must hope for an at-large bid to the state tournament.

Brea’s margin of victory was the largest in a Southern Section final since Foothill beat Brea also by 29 points, 63-34, in the 1985 3-A championship game.

That game flashed into Brea Coach Mark Trakh’s mind late in Friday’s rout.

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“I was thinking ‘God, let me get out of the record book,’ ” Trakh said.

And, really, that was the extent of Trakh’s worries.

Brea took the lead, 2-0, on a jumper by guard Tammy Blackburn. The Brea fans began singing, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodby.” And that was just the start of a rough night for Atascadero.

Brea led, 14-11, at the end of the first quarter, then turned the game into a blowout by outscoring Atascadero, 11-2, in the second.

It got worse as the third quarter began. When Jinelle Williams scored on an inside move, it pushed Brea’s lead to 38-15.

Guard Aimee McDaniel led Brea’s fearsome fast break with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists. She had four fast-break layups and passed to her teammates for several easy baskets.

Despite her fine offensive display, McDaniel said it was hard-nosed defense that helped Brea win the title.

“We just played tough,” McDaniel said. “We weren’t that good on defense last year (when Brea lost in the quarterfinals). Especially me, I was slow and all I cared about was playing offense.”

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Blackburn, Brea’s other starting guard, added 14 points and four assists.

“It was a matter of how well we executed and how much poise we had,” Blackburn said.

Atascadero was never able to keep up, partly because of Brea’s defense but also because of cold shooting. The Greyhounds made just six of 24 shots from the field (25%) in the first half and 19 of 55 (35%) for the game.

Brea was 28 of 64 (44%) for the game.

“I don’t want to blame everything on the traffic and the travel,” Atascadero Coach Jim Stecher said. “But it definitely had an effect. Our shooting was off all night.”

Forward Rene Brill, who averages 15 points a game, led the Greyhounds with 14 points, but was the only scorer in double figures. Brill made six of 19 from the field, including zero for 10 from three-point range.

Leading scorer Tricia Oswald, a guard who averages 17 a game, had eight on four-of-10 shooting.

It all added up to a lopsided victory for Brea.

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“They weren’t the same team we saw on the video tapes,” Trakh said. “It was just one of those games.”


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