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Palos Verdes’ Foe Will Not Back Down

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On its way to the State Division III girls’ basketball championship game, Palos Verdes High has defeated seven playoff opponents by an average of 36 points.

Will things get any tougher for the Sea Kings (30-2) when they meet Healdsburg (30-4) for the state title at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the Oakland Coliseum Arena?

Palos Verdes Coach Wendell Yoshida isn’t sure. In fact, Yoshida isn’t sure where the city of Healdsburg is located.

“No, I don’t know where Healdsburg High is,” Yoshida said. “It’s somewhere up north.”

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For non-geography majors, Healdsburg (pop. 15,000) is 75 miles north of San Francisco in the middle of Napa Valley wine country. The 101 Freeway cuts through the town.

Coach Harry Tappin’s squads have won 11 consecutive Sonoma County League titles and are undefeated in league play for the past seven years. This season’s squad has won 17 games in a row and outscored its regular-season opponents by an average of 28.

Healdsburg’s front line averages 5 foot 11. Lainie Bebber, the Lady Greyhounds’ leading scorer, is the tallest starter at 6-1. Tappin says his team likes to press, except in certain situations.

Healdsburg lost to Lompoc during the regular season. In the playoffs, Palos Verdes beat Lompoc, 69-36, in the Southern Section Division III-AA final and 63-43 in the Southern Regional final.

Palos Verdes’ front line, led by 6-5 Jeffra Gausepohl and 6-3 Monique Morehouse, is considerably taller than the Lady Greyhounds. The Sea Kings, ranked 17th nationally by USA Today, also have point guard Kristen Mulligan, who averages 12.4 points and 5.1 assists. She shared Ocean League MVP honors with Morningside’s All-America center, Janet Davis.

It appears Healdsburg may be outmatched, but Tappin says he has a plan.

“We do not care if we are underdogs,” Tappin said. “We usually do not have that role, but . . . that does not bother me. For the Northern California playoffs, they put us as the fourth seed. We beat the holy heck out of the fifth seed. Then we played the first seed and beat them easily, and the other team. . . . We beat them, too. So, we’ll play them. Five on five.”

Led by Bebber, the only senior starter, Healdsburg beat Sacramento St. Francis for the Northern California championship, 62-58, on Saturday.

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Bebber, who will attend the University of Pacific, is one of three Lady Greyhounds who has a double-figure scoring average. She averages 15. Point guard Mariah Volk averages 12 and forward Carrie Dormire averages 11.

“Some people I know saw them play,” Yoshida said. “They told me they have pretty good size. I do not know what pretty good size means, if that means 6-foot, or what. . . . (Bebber) is supposed to be a great player.”

Both teams were entered in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions in December but did not meet. Tappin watched Palos Verdes play and says the scouting experience provided him some insight to draw up a game plan.

Yoshida did not get as much out of the Santa Barbara tournament.

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“I saw two minutes of their game in Santa Barbara, and that’s all I’ve seen,” said Yoshida, who spent the early part of the week trying to get game tapes of the Greyhounds and putting his girls through light workouts.

“I’ve heard they like to press and run, which is what we like to do. We like to get it inside right away and get it to our big girls. We’re much bigger than they are.”


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