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Without Leslie, U.S. Turned Gold Into Bronze

Lisa Leslie knows what the U.S. women’s basketball team needed to avoid a disappointing third-place finish at the Pan American Games.

“They could have used me,” she said.

Leslie giggled in reaction to making such an immodest comment, but there might be more truth to her words than she is willing to admit.

Last month, with the 6-foot-5 Leslie starting at center, a team of U.S. women won the gold medal at the World University Games in England. The former Morningside High standout averaged 15 points a game against competition that she considered tougher than the United States played in Cuba.

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“The Pan American Games has the name, but it only includes the Western (Hemisphere),” she said. “We were playing the world. The World University Games had more competition.”

The U.S. national team saw its 48-game winning streak snapped by Brazil at the Pan American Games. The American women were also upset by host Cuba.

“They were missing something,” Leslie said.

Leslie, who recently turned 19, hopes to give the United States that missing ingredient at the Olympics next summer in Barcelona, Spain. She is working out in preparation for her sophomore season at USC and, down the road, for the Olympic Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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“Hopefully I’ll make it,” she said. “It all depends on who comes back and who tries out.”

Actually, Leslie said, she was glad to compete in the World University Games rather than the Pan American Games.

She played an exhibition game in Cuba last year and found the country’s widespread poverty an unsettling experience.

“I wanted to go to England,” she said. “I didn’t like Cuba. It’s so sad and depressing, and so different. It makes you grateful for what you have.”

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It was reported here a few weeks ago that Steve Shaw is expected to be named assistant basketball coach at El Camino College.

We still expect that.

What we didn’t expect, however, are the interesting rumors about the replacement for Shaw as Redondo High’s basketball coach.

A name being tossed around is Cliff Warren, the former Rolling Hills coach who was named coach at Harbor College in April before he suddenly decided not to take the job because of “personal reasons.”

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Warren is out of town on vacation and could not be reached for comment, but reportedly he has discussed the Redondo job with Shaw.

Could this be the reason Warren turned down Harbor?

Stay tuned.

Lynn Hughes, perhaps the prep football coach with the worst record in South Bay history, has been removed as coach at Narbonne and replaced by former assistant Patrick Bender.

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Under Hughes, who coached the team for five seasons, Narbonne lost 40 of its last 41 games and currently has a 17-game losing streak. The Gauchos were 0-10 last season and were outscored, 312-33.

Narbonne held the state’s longest losing streak, 23 games, before it beat Wilson, 23-20, on Sept. 29, 1989. The Gauchos have not won since then.

Hughes lost his job as a part-time teacher at Narbonne because of state budget cuts, causing the school to restructure coaching assignments. He will remain on the football staff as offensive line coach.

Bender, a full-time teacher, last coached football as a Narbonne assistant in 1987.

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Inglewood and Morningside, which have not met in football for several years, will renew their rivalry in a season opener Sept. 13 at El Camino College.

Proceeds from the first “Inglewood Football Classic” will go to the schools’ athletic programs.

Hollis Dillon, director of special services for the Inglewood Unified School District, said the Inglewood-Morningside series was suspended four or five years ago after an altercation during a junior varsity game.

“It’s been kind of a void,” Dillon said. “We’re looking forward to bringing back a great contest.”

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The game will mark the Inglewood coaching debut of Angelo Jackson, the former St. Monica coach who is trying to revive the Sentinel program after several lean seasons.

“Morningside has had a very successful program, and Inglewood has been zero-minus,” Dillon said. “But our motto is ‘Inglewood is back.’ And from what I’ve seen, they are back.”

A busy summer of baseball continues later this month for former Rolling Hills High pitcher Kirt Kishita.

The Arizona-bound right-hander has been selected to the American Rookies team that will play Japanese and Korean national high school teams Aug. 31 at Cerritos College, Sept. 1 at the Riverside Sports Complex and Sept. 2 at Blair Field in Long Beach.

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Former Pepperdine Coach Dave Gorrie will coach the 18-player American team in the Goodwill Series, featuring players ages 16-19. The Korean team won the series each of the past two years.

The American players are selected from the “area code” games that begin Saturday and run through Tuesday in Fresno. This marks the third consecutive year that Kishita will play for the 213 area code team run by the Dodgers.

Kishita has played in several all-star competitions this summer, including the Olympic Festival and the World Youth Tournament in Canada.

Harbor College golfer Mike Foster, a former San Pedro High standout, shot a tournament-record four-under-par 67 Monday to place first in the 14th annual San Pedro Pirate Booster golf tournament at Los Verdes Country Club in Rancho Palos Verdes.

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Proceeds from the event will go to provide student scholarships and financial aid and to fund the athletic program at San Pedro. The next Pirate Booster event will be at the fall banquet Sept. 6 to introduce new San Pedro football Coach Mike Walsh.


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