Pressure Is No Problem for Brea-Olinda's Bickel

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Allison Bickel had scored only three points all day when she stepped up to the free-throw line Saturday morning.

Her team, Brea-Olinda High School, was trailing by two points with 26 seconds remaining in the Southern California Regional Division III girls' final.

Bickel, The Times' Athlete of the Week, had made only 50% of her free throws on the season. But this time, she made both free throws to tie the score, 46-46. Defending state champion Brea-Olinda (32-0) won, 47-46, on a free throw by Tammy Blackburn.

"(Bickel's free throws) might have been more important, because she had to make two," Brea Coach Mark Trakh said. "If Allison misses one of them, the worst that could happen is that we lose our ranking, the state championship, our undefeated season . . . "

Trakh was joking.

"Really, if Tammy (Blackburn) missed her (free throw), we go to overtime. Allison had to make both of hers in order for Tammy to get a chance to win."

Bickel did her best not to succumb to the pressure. "I tried not to act nervous, I tried not to think about all those things (the pressure, the winning streak)," Bickel said. "I kept thinking (the score) was 0-0 and the game just started, that it was just another game."

Was she able to convince herself?

"Not really. That (the undefeated season and being defending state champions) entered my mind about two times, that and it all being over. I thought that this was my senior year and my last chance," Bickel said.

"I had this gut feeling that things weren't going to go right. But Aimee (McDaniel) said she wasn't going to let us lose."

TOP PERFORMERS

Jennifer Brundage pitched a no-hitter and did not walk a batter to lead Irvine to a 1-0 victory over El Toro in the championship game of the Corona softball tournament Saturday. She had an error in the second inning to spoil a perfect game. Wednesday, Brundage pitched a two-hitter to lead Irvine to a 3-0 victory over Ramona.

Beth Howard pitched a no-hitter to lead Cypress to a 2-0 victory over Millikan in the first round of the Cypress tournament Saturday.

Aimee McDaniel scored 19 points in the first round of the Southern California regionals, 11 in the semifinal and 15 in the final to lead Brea-Olinda to the championship.

Allison Bickel

Brea-Olinda High School

* Position: Forward

* Height, Weight, Class: 6-0, 140, Senior

* Last Week: Bickel scored only five points in the game, but her two free throws with 26 seconds remaining gave Brea-Olinda a 46-46 tie with Palos Verdes in the Southern California Regional Division III championship game. Teammate Tammy Blackburn later converted one free throw to give Brea-Olinda a 47-46 victory.

* Season: Bickel averaged eight points and eight rebounds.

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