GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PREVIEW : La Quinta's Jalewalia Returns and She's Even Better

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

As a fan of Orange County girls' basketball, you might be aware that La Quinta High School's Amy Jalewalia is the No. 1 retuning player in the county this season.

You might remember that last year, Jalewalia--a 6-foot-1 senior center/forward/guard--led the state in scoring with a 31.2-point average.

You might have heard that Jalewalia led her team in rebounds (13.2 per game) and steals (six per game), and if she could have passed the ball to herself, she undoubtedly would have led the Aztecs in assists, too.

But even now you might still be unsure of one thing--the pronunciation of her last name. So, for all those wanting to at least sound informed, say Jal-ah-wall-ee-ah .

Hers probably will be one of the more oft-spoken names this season. Especially because--brace yourself, La Quinta opponents--she has improved significantly from last year, thanks to participation in several development camps last summer.

"She's definitely gotten better," Aztec Coach Kevin Kiernan said. "She's improved her overall game, her outside shooting is better . . . she just keeps progressing."

Others to watch:

CENTER STAGE

Sheri Rhyne of Canyon, a 6-4 junior center. Lacks strength and post-up skills but such height never hurt.

Jennifer Rohrig of Mission Viejo, a 6-3 senior center. Averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game last year for the South Coast League champions.

Jenny Sullivan of Ocean View, a 6-2 junior center. The most valuable player of the Sunset League last year, she led the Seahawks to a 9-1 league record. Averaged 12.7 points and 14.5 rebounds.

Sara Bone of El Toro, a 6-foot senior center. Can run the floor as well as anyone. Was a sprinter on the track team until last year when she quit to concentrate on basketball. Said El Toro Coach Greg Yeck: "I compare her to a greyhound, the kid can fly."

Jinelle Williams of Brea-Olinda, a 5-9 junior center. "A great athlete, a super athlete," Brea Coach Mark Trakh said. "She is a gazelle. She gets up and down that court."

SISTERS IN HOOPS

La Habra's Ana and Zrinka Kristich have to be the toughest sibling pair in the county. Ana, a 6-1 junior forward, averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds last year. Because of her ability to jump, handle the ball and shoot from the outside, she is being heavily recruited.

Zrinka is only a sophomore, but at 6-5 and with great shooting skills, she's a rarity in the county. "You're talking about a 6-5 girl who can hit jump shots from 18 feet," La Habra Coach John Koehler said.

ALL-AROUND TALENTS

Aimee McDaniel of Brea-Olinda, a 5-5 senior guard. Last year, averaged 17 points a game and was named player of the year in the Orange League, the Southern Section 3-A, and the state Division III. Will attend Pepperdine next year.

Tammy Blackburn of Brea-Olinda, 5-8 senior guard. With McDaniel, makes the best guard tandem in the county. Was an All-Southern Section and state Division III selection. Will attend San Diego State next year.

Karie Yoshioka of El Toro, a senior guard. Averaged nine points and six assists a game last season. Averaged 15 points a game after recovering from mid-season illness and ankle injury. "People know about Karie," Yeck said. "But in their estimation, she is just a good ballplayer. I think she is a great ballplayer."

Jenny Newsome of Rancho Alamitos, a 5-8 senior guard. Averaged 19 points and 16 rebounds a game last year. Three-year starter who was named to All-Southern Section team. Aggressive on the boards and holds school record for most consecutive free throws made (19).

Melisa Sortino of Marina, a 5-7 senior guard. Led Vikings with 20.2-point average last year. Will attend University of San Diego next year.

Julie Workman of Fountain Valley, a 5-7 guard. Her father, Bill, is football coach at Orange Coast College.

Leslie Rathbun of Woodbridge, a 5-7 senior guard. Averaged 18 points a game last year and was an All-Southern Section 4-A selection. As MVP of the Pacific Coast League, she led the Warriors to their sixth consecutive league title.

Fabiola Nunez of Ocean View, a 5-7 senior guard/forward. "She's an explosive-type player who jumps well and who jumps extremely quick," Ocean View Coach Ollie Martin said. "She has a tremendous first step."

Hollie Keeton of Valencia, a 5-10 senior forward. Transferred from Corona High, where she led her team with 18 points and 14 rebounds a game last year. Has a good outside shot and is an excellent ballhandler. Was an All-Riverside County selection last year.

YOUTH BE SERVED

Jody Anton of Brea-Olinda, a 5-10 sophomore guard/forward. Has the potential to be the best Brea player ever, which is saying a lot. Improved rapidly this summer. Has good grasp of fundamentals and is hard working. Good baseline shooter, excellent defender.

Martha Hernandez of La Habra, a 5-8 freshman point guard. Will start on one of the county's top 10 teams. "Probably one of the best incoming freshman I've ever had," said Koehler, who compares Hernandez to former Highlander star Paula Tezak, who became a star in volleyball and basketball at Cal Poly Pomona.

Madgie Gorska of Mission Viejo, a 5-10 freshman forward from Poland. Won't start but will see some playing time.

Clare Walker of Huntington Beach, a freshman. Coach Nick Bartlett believes she may be the best freshman in the county.

Others to watch: Heather Brannan of La Quinta, Jana Davis of Huntington Beach, Leslie Ferguson of La Habra, Ginny Hall and Nicole Champion of Orange, Jennifer Harney of Esperanza, Hsin Yi Lo of Valencia, Gracie Lopez of Santa Ana, Patrice Lumpkin of Estancia, Summer McClain of Fullerton, Dede Sampson of Trabuco Hills, Wanda Sequeira of Tustin, Erin Shimeneck of Dana Hills, Tracy Titus of Loara and Tracy Wolfe of Ocean View.

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