St. Margaret’s Up From the Depths


St. Margaret’s faces its personal measuring stick tonight in the first round of the Southern Section Division V-AA girls’ basketball playoffs.

It’s the Capistrano Valley Christian Eagles, and to the five seniors on St. Margaret’s squad, the Eagles are a symbol of how far the Tartans’ program has come.

St. Margaret’s senior players, who helped the Tartans post a 16-1 record this season, remember when they struggled, and Capistrano Valley Christian rolled over them with little resistance.


“Our freshman year, we lost to them by about 60 points, and every year it has gotten progressively better,” point guard Susan Heydenrych said. “I think we see now that we can compete with them.”

Heydenrych, along with fellow seniors Nina Asgari, Jamie Futheree, Gabi Keil and Masy Moatazedi, easily recall their freshman year, when the Tartans finished 4-10. They say they expected improvement, but not this much.

“Coming in, we heard we had a few new players, but to go 16-1. . . . I don’t think we ever thought of that,” Heydenrych said. “We’ve been pleased and quite surprised. None of us expected this or thought of this.”

The new players, among them transfers Jenny Freeman from Ohio and Kelly Dane from Belgium, give St. Margaret’s Coach Brady Lock the depth to run an attacking, relentless defense.

“I usually substitute all five players at once,” Lock said. “It’s a full-system platoon, and I’ve always wanted to do it to keep the pressure on (opposing teams). We’re deep enough to be able to do that.”

The continual substitution and pressure defense mentally demoralizes the opposition, the Tartan players say, while boosting their morale.


“It intimidates the other team a lot, because when five girls come in, it really scares them because they’re already tired,” Asgari said. “I think it’s also fair to (our) other players, because they know they will get in. They know they won’t be bench warmers.”

St. Margaret’s, which advanced to the Division V-AA quarterfinals last year, where it lost to Hesperia Christian, faces a forgiving draw in the upper bracket this year. That is, if it can get by Capistrano Valley Christian.

The Eagles handed St. Margaret’s its only loss this year, a 57-40 decision at St. Margaret’s Dec. 16. St. Margaret’s trailed, 28-27, entering the fourth quarter.

“I think we can beat them, and if we lose, it will be because we don’t play our best,” Asgari said. “In (the playoffs), I know there are really good teams, but I think we’ll go far if we play hard all the time.”

Postseason results aside, Heydenrych said she is grateful the Tartans’ fortunes have turned since she entered the program.

“There’s a bunch of seniors here, and when we were freshmen we won only four games, so it’s really been fun to do well.


“We had fun as freshmen, too, but it’s a lot more fun when you’re winning.”

Division V-AA at a Glance

Defending champion: San Luis Obispo Mission Prep.

Top-seeded teams: Pasadena Poly (18-4), San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (14-6), Hesperia Christian (18-6), Cambria Coast Union (16-3).

Dark horse: Encino Holy Martyrs Armenian. The Armens (16-5) went undefeated in Liberty League play and open with Claremont Vivian Webb (9-11).

Top players: Andrea Alary (Templeton), Aline Altibarmakian (Holy Martyrs Armenian), Renee Blodgett (San Bernardino Aquinas), Susan Heydenrych (St. Margaret’s), Courtney Kanegae (Pasadena Poly), Nicole Jenkins (Redlands Arrowhead Christian), Sarah Mauety (Coast Union), Carrie McNutt (Burbank Providence), Carrie Musolff (Coast Union), Andrea Shaffner (Capistrano Valley Christian), Kari Sytsma (Ontario Christian), Shay Trette (St. Margaret’s).

Best draw: St. Margaret’s (16-1). If the Tartans can get by perennial nemesis Capistrano Valley Christian (11-11) in the first round, it should be smooth sailing to at least the quarterfinals., where Coast Union could make trouble.

Worst draw: Templeton. The Eagles (11-9) finished third in the Tri-County League, probably the toughest league in the division. But Templeton must make the 3 1/2-hour trip to North Hollywood Oakwood (11-6) in the first round, and if the Eagles survive, top-seeded Poly awaits in the second.

Notes: Coast Union’s Mauety and Musolff are the division’s most formidable scoring and passing duo. Musolff is averaging 20.9 points and five assists, and Mauety is averaging 16.3 points and 10.4 assists . . . . . . Capistrano Valley Christian Coach Tim Shelton won the 100th game of his coaching career when the Eagles beat Whitney, 34-26, on Dec. 9.


Division V-A at a Glance

Defending champion: Lancaster Bethel Christian.

Top-seeded teams: San Bernardino Christian (17-7), Lancaster Bethel Christian (16-6), Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep (16-5), L.A. Ribet Academy (16-5).

Dark horse: Pico Rivera Mesrobian. The Bulldogs (12-1) were undefeated in Valley League play and enter the playoffs with a nine-game winning streak.

Top players: Chayya Bhakta (Corona Christian), Virginia Boghossian (Mesrobian), Shawn Dennis (Canoga Park Faith Baptist), Stephanie Dondero (Lee Vining), Erica Fearn (Simi Valley Grace Brethren), Deanna Fulton (Bermuda Dunes Desert Christian), Alisia Keau (L.A. Ribet Academy), Andrea Keehne (La Verne Calvary Baptist), Kelly McMurry (San Bernardino Christian), Alicia Preston (Ribet Academy), Krista Stark (Sylmar First Lutheran), Lynlee Vaccaro (Liberty Christian).

Best draw: Bethel Christian. The defending champions were seeded into the weaker bracket and can sleepwalk to the semifinals, where Rio Hondo should give them a decent run.

Worst draw: Big Pine (13-4). The Warriors get rewarded for winning five of their last six with a second-round matchup against top-seeded San Bernardino Christian.

Notes: Bethel Christian defeated Lone Pine in last year’s final, 40-36. Lone Pine has since moved to Division V-AA. . . . Corona Christian’s Bhakta is the division’s leading scorer, averaging 29.6 points. She also is averaging 9.3 rebounds. . . . Two of Orange County’s three representatives in the division meet in the first round. Liberty Christian (14-9), the No. 2 team from the Academy League, plays host to Heritage Christian (13-7), which finished third in the Express League.