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Dominance of North County Teams Isn’t Just an Illusion

Is the North County really dominant? The coaches up there keep saying it is, but is it real or just stuffy rhetoric?

Consider that there are 48 semifinal entries in divisions I, II and III in boys’ and girls’ basketball and soccer. The two North County leagues have 20 representatives.

The Palomar League leads the county with 14 teams reaching the semifinals, followed by the Avocado, Grossmont 2-A and Harbor leagues with six each. The Harbor League got five of those entries in Division III soccer.

Following are the City Western League (five), Metro Conference (four), Grossmont 3-A (three), City Central League (three) and the City Eastern League (one).

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In Division I boys’ basketball, the Palomar League has all four of the remaining teams. It also has three of the four teams left in the Division I girls’ playoffs.

It appears North County teams really are a notch above the rest of the county--for now.

Trivia time: Point Loma’s Terri Mann was a three-time section player of the year in girls’ basketball. Since 1975, two other girls have been players of the year in consecutive seasons. Who were they?

The team to beat: Poway High School has a chance to win section titles in all five winter sports. The Titans already won the section wrestling title.

The boys’ soccer team, seeded fourth in the playoffs, is in the finals after beating top-ranked San Dieguito, 2-1, in two overtimes. The third-ranked girls’ soccer team beat second-ranked Bonita Vista, 1-0, and plays San Dieguito in the championship.

Both basketball teams are a victory away from reaching the championship game, and both are seeded first. If both win, it will be the first sweep in basketball.

Battle for No. 1: How’s this for oneupmanship? Poway’s boys’ basketball team won its first-round game playoff against Granite Hills by 56 points, 94-38. However, the girls won theirs against Mt. Miguel by 58 points, 73-15. The games were part of a doubleheader.

Who are those guys? Junior varsity teams had to be intimidated when playing against Carlsbad this season. Jesse McDonald had a full beard and Don Kennedy had full sideburns and mustache. Both are sophomores.

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“Both of them look older than me,” said varsity Coach John Nelson, 45.

The playoff shuffle: Two boys’ basketball games Wednesday night have been pushed back 30 minutes to accommodate the fans of Mt. Carmel and Fallbrook high schools. Both teams have boys’ and girls’ teams in the playoffs and Commissioner Kendall Webb made the decision to begin the boys’ games at 8 p.m.

Fourth-seeded Fallbrook plays No. 1 Poway in the girls’ game at Mira Mesa, then Warrior fans have to dash to Torrey Pines for the Fallbrook-Rancho Buena Vista boys’ game. Mt. Carmel’s girls play Granite Hills at Torrey Pines, then have to get over to Mira Mesa to watch the boys play rival Poway.

No more uniforms: San Dieguito suited up 19 players for its quarterfinal girls’ game against Poway. All of them played in a 72-43 swan song.

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The game was delayed right before tipoff when official Mike Heintschel realized he had forgotten his whistle. After he got it, he used it. There were 39 fouls called in the game.

Young guns: Point Loma’s boys’ basketball team finished 5-19, but had an incredibly young squad. When the season began, only one player had more than three consecutive minutes of varsity experience.

The prophet speaks: Vista Coach Greg Lanthier, following the Division II boys’ basketball seeding meeting, made a case for games to be played on neutral courts.

“If a home team beats a visiting team by one point,” he said, “I don’t think that makes the home team the better team.”

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In the first round of the playoffs, the home team, Helix, beat the Panthers by one, 70-69, in double-overtime.

The game was not without its moments, especially at the end of the first overtime. With three seconds left and the score tied at 64, Vista’s Chris Johnson called a timeout, but the Panthers had none available. A technical foul was assessed and Helix’s Brandon Sanders went to the foul line to shoot two free throws to win it. He missed them both.

Derrick Henry’s layup at the buzzer finally decided the game in the second overtime.

Long, winding road: If El Cajon Valley and Mt. Carmel win their respective girls’ basketball divisions, they will have done so in spite of getting a cold shoulder from fortune.

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El Cajon Valley (25-1) lost two players this season, Sara Mease and Tracy Wilcox. Wilcox missed five games but returned for the playoffs. Mease, an all-league guard who averaged 15 points and seven steals a game, suffered a knee injury early in the year and is out throughout the playoffs.

Coach Robert Holm praised the play of Monica Kraknes (11.5 points per game) and Carmen Johnson in place of Mease.

Mt. Carmel (20-2) has played without starting guard Angie Cooper the past three weeks and lost 6-foot-2 center Kris Grazzini in the final game of the season with a knee injury. Grazzini had surgery last week and is out for the playoffs. Cooper might return.

Trivia answer: Chris Enger of Vista High was player of the year in 1988-89, and Kirsten Cummings of Patrick Henry was named in 1980-81. In 1989, the section began naming players from each division, diluting the back-to-back distinction.

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How the other half lives: When Helix upset fourth-seeded San Pasqual in the first round of a girls’ soccer Division II game, it marked the Eagles’ first post-season loss since 1985.


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