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DiCamilli Isn’t Just a One-Play Act : Division III-A: Costa Mesa star’s role is that of a leader in all aspects of the game, including playoff basketball.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Olivia DiCamilli moves on the basketball court as if she has spent her entire life there.

Her movements are bold and languid, resembling a Shakespearean actor on stage. But she knows the subtleties of the game.

DiCamilli embarks on a mission today at Loyola Marymount, hoping to bring Costa Mesa its second Southern Section Division III-A title in the four years she has competed on the varsity team. She also lost in the finals and in the semifinals.

Rancho Alamitos, which Costa Mesa defeated in the finals when DiCamilli was a freshman and is the defending section champion, is a formidable foe. The Vaqueros eliminated the Mustangs last season.

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If she is successful--the Mustangs are top-seeded--it will cap a remarkable season for the 5-foot-10 forward.

DiCamilli averaged 20 points this season despite playing only about two quarters per game during Pacific Coast League play, according to Coach Lisa McNamee. In the playoffs, however, she has been used to her full extent, and she has measured up to McNamee’s expectations, averaging 33 points in three lopsided playoff victories.

But perhaps at no time has her importance been felt more than in the semifinals, a 57-37 victory over Culver City. Costa Mesa led at halftime, 24-23, and McNamee told her players to give the ball to DiCamilli. And she told DiCamilli to put the ball in the basket.

“She’s the one who got us here,” McNamee said.

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And DiCamilli responded, scoring 25 of her 38 points in the second half, including eight of the first 10 points of the third quarter and the first nine points of the fourth.

She enjoys being the go-to player.

“I love it,” DiCamilli said. “It’s a rush. You know when it’s a tight game they’re going to be looking to you. You know that they’re going to get you the ball for a game-winning shot and the pressure’s going to be on you.

“I like the pressure. I think it makes me a better player when there’s a little pressure on me. I think that’s going to make me a better player and person.

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“I think the way to grow is to be challenged. You grow when demands are placed on you. If I can handle the pressure from basketball, it helps me handle the other situations in life.”

McNamee certainly has every confidence in her star player, who is going to play at San Diego State next year. And she certainly has placed high expectations on DiCamilli’s shoulders.

“There’s not a player in the county who can play with her,” McNamee said. “She can play all five positions on the floor.

“She’s one of the top five players in the county from the past 15 years.”

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Other county coaches agree that DiCamilli is one of the county’s best scorers this year. When she gets around the basket, she takes what she wants. That’s what Culver City found out.

DiCamilli often bulled her way past defenders, tucking her shoulder and offering a forearm to those who tried to get in her way.

But she insists she’s not a bully. Not intentionally anyway.

“Some players get mad at me, but I don’t try to hurt anybody, not by any means,” DiCamilli said. “I try hard when I get under the basket and sometimes in the heat of the battle I get really aggressive, but I don’t try to do it. I can’t try to tune my game down because I really want to win.”

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Time has shown she usually gets what she wants.


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