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PREPS / ROB FERNAS : Peninsula Tries to Take a Bite Out of Big Apple

With hopes of improving its national ranking, the Peninsula High girls’ basketball team begins play today in the Christ the King tournament in New York City.

The Panthers, ranked third in the nation by USA Today, have a chance to meet two other nationally ranked teams in the eight-team field--10th-ranked Christ the King and 14th-ranked Cardinal O’Hara of Springfield, Pa.

Peninsula (8-0) opens the tournament today against East Brunswick, N.J., after a 56-47 victory Monday night over Thousand Oaks in the final of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

The nine-point margin represented the closest game the Panthers have had this season, but tournament director Len Locher said the game was not as close as the score indicated.

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"(Peninsula) looked real good,” Locher said. “They opened up a 21-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Thousand Oaks cut it, but it wasn’t like they were ever really in the game. It was a pretty decisive win.”

Thousand Oaks (6-1) defeated highly regarded Brea-Olinda and Washington to reach the final.

Locher said one of the keys for Peninsula was shutting down Thousand Oaks forward Michelle Palmisano after a close first half. Palmisano, who has signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA, scored 14 points in the first half but was held to five in the second half because of a strong defensive effort by Peninsula’s Mimi McKinney and Raquel Alotis.

McKinney, a sophomore, had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Peninsula in the final. Center Jeffra Gausepohl added 11 points and guard Kristen Mulligan and forward Monique Morehouse each had 10.

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In their first three games of the tournament, the Panthers easily defeated Channel Islands of Oxnard, 73-34, Poway, 67-39, and Chino, 66-36.

Mulligan was selected tournament most valuable player, and Gausepohl and Alotis were named to the all-tournament team.

Peninsula needs a strong performance in the Christ the King tournament to remain in contention for a mythical national title. After their opener today, the Panthers play again Saturday and Monday. They will conclude their trip on Tuesday with a game at Harrison High in Newark, N.J.

Peninsula will play its home opener Jan. 4 against Del Campo of Fair Oaks, which it defeated, 67-44, earlier this month in the final of the Capital City Shootout in Sacramento.

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The similarities in the volleyball careers of Megan McCallister and Bryan Ivie have been uncanny. For example:

* Both were All-Southern Section players and 1987 graduates at Mira Costa High.

* Both went on to successful collegiate careers at USC.

* Both are current members of U.S. national teams.

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But while Ivie, a 6-foot-7 middle blocker, appears a shoo-in to be chosen to the men’s Olympic team, McCallister says her chances of earning a spot on the women’s team are slim.

“Stranger things have happened, but I’m definitely a long shot,” she said. “My real focus is for the ’96 Olympics.”

McCallister, who turned 23 on Monday, said she is the youngest member of the 16-player women’s national team that is training in San Diego. From that squad, 12 will make the final cut that goes to Barcelona, Spain, this summer for the Olympics.

“It’s the best women’s team in the last six years,” McCallister said. “It’s the strongest team we’ve had since ’84. I don’t know who would win between that team and this one. They got the silver (medal) in ’84, but I think this team will come home with something real good.”

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McCallister, a 6-foot outside hitter, said she has less experience than most of the national team players.

“I’m in the process of learning, improving and getting stronger,” she said. “I’m working as hard as I can to climb the ladder. It’s just a matter of slowly getting up the ladder.”

Coming out of Mira Costa, McCallister was the most celebrated high school player in the nation. She was twice named a prep All-American and was chosen the national player of the year by Volleyball Monthly in the fall of 1986.

Torrance, arguably the most dominant girls’ soccer team in Southern California, posted its 11th shutout in 11 games Tuesday to win the championship of the South Torrance holiday tournament.

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The Tartars defeated South, 3-0, in a rematch of last season’s Southern Section 3-A Division final won by Torrance. Jessica Reifer, Jenny Yokoyama and November Wallace scored second-half goals and goaltender Jennifer Halladay got her 11th shutout.

Halladay, a junior who was recently selected to the California select team, has recorded 48 shutouts in three years as a varsity starter.

Reifer, Yokoyama and Wallace also are returning players.

With this kind of experience, it appears Coach John Jackson has the makings of another section champion at Torrance. The Tartars won the title last season with a 27-1-1 record. They are ranked No. 1 in 3-A.

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Alan King, who coached the Palos Verdes boys’ soccer team to back-to-back Southern Section titles in 1989 and ’90, has another squad with championship potential this season.

King, now the coach at Peninsula, watched Tuesday as the Panthers ran their record to 9-0 with 3-1 victory over Marina of Huntington Beach in the final of the South Torrance tournament.

Forwards Dave Kaemmerer and Andreas Krebs combined for all of Peninsula’s goals. Kaemmerer scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season and Krebs got his team-leading 13th.

Considering that Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Miraleste traditionally fielded successful soccer teams, many expect Peninsula to be dominant for years to come.

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Banning and Morningside finished the football season rated among the top teams in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

Banning (12-2), which lost to Dorsey in the City Section 4-A Division title game, was ranked No. 10 in the state 4-A Division for large schools.

Morningside (11-2), the Southern Section Division VIII champion, was ranked No. 10 in the 3-A Division.

Notes

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The Morningside and Peninsula boys’ basketball teams began play Thursday in the Rancho Las Vegas tournament, which runs through Monday. Morningside won the championship of the La Canada tournament with a 77-67 victory over the host school Saturday night. Morningside guard Donminic Ellison, a transfer from Hawthorne, was named tournament MVP. Peninsula is 9-1 after a 56-52 nonleague victory over South Torrance Monday.


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