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FREEWAY LEAGUE GIRLS’ BASKETBALL ROUNDUP : La Habra Survives the Mayhem to Win

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It’s a good thing basketball games aren’t judged on artistic impression or technical merit. If they were, La Habra and Fullerton high schools would have been disqualified in both categories in their Freeway League girls’ game Thursday night at Fullerton.

La Habra (13-4, 5-0 in league) did come away with a 68-47 victory over Fullerton (8-8, 4-1) to take possession of the league lead, but it wasn’t elegant.

From the tipoff, the game turned into a foul-a-thon and a turnover extravaganza. The teams committed 58 turnovers (30 by La Habra), including 23 in the first quarter. There were 34 personal fouls called, with La Habra holding an 18-16 edge.

But La Habra Coach John Koehler ascribed much of the wildness on the court to Fullerton’s style of play.

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“They (Fullerton) always play that scramble type of defense,” Koehler said. “It looks like you are not running an offense.”

La Habra did manage to score some points despite the mayhem.

The Highlanders, ranked No. 4 in Orange County, jumped ahead, 8-2, after a ragged start and built their lead to 17-9 after one quarter. Center Zrinka Kristich (16 points) and guard Martha Hernandez (14 points) each had six points in the opening quarter.

Hernandez’s play, though sometimes a little out of control, impressed Koehler.

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“We are trying to get her to where she’s not so fancy with the basketball,” he said.

The 5-7 sophomore helped La Habra increase its lead to 35-19 by halftime and to 51-31 after three quarters. Forward Leslie Ferguson, who had a game-high 12 rebounds, was the Highlanders’ offensive spark in the second half, scoring 12 of her 17 points.

Forward Ana Kristich, Zrinka’s sister, contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for La Habra.

Fullerton could not penetrate consistently on offense against the taller Highlanders, who average 6-feet-2 on the frontline, and had to rely on the outside shooting of guard Minette Gomez, who finished with 17 points. Teammate Triana Roberson added 11 points.

Thursday’s lopsided victory offered further proof that La Habra will not likely be challenged in league play this season.

“We were thinking we ought to win the league,” Koehler said.

In another league game:

Sonora 55, Troy 29--Guard Denise Donadio scored 29 for Sonora (7-10, 2-3). Troy is 0-7, 0-5.

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