Twenty-five years ago, girls' high school basketball was played much like football. There was an offensive team and a defensive team.
It was a six-player game where each team had three players on offense and three on defense at opposite ends of the court. Players could not cross the midcourt line and offensive players could not take more than two dribbles.
The girls' game has improved dramatically since 1969-70, the last time a six-player game was played in California, and so has the level of play.
In addition to winning championship banners, area players are beginning to receive national recognition. For the second consecutive season, St. Bernard won a State Division IV title and its standout player, 6-foot-4 forward Olympia Scott, played in the nationally televised Kodak All-American game.
"I think the girls are becoming more athletic and have a greater sense of competitiveness," said Lori Pawinski, a former player and current coach at St. Bernard. "They play with greater ability and intensity. Girls' basketball is not identical to the boys' game because the girls are not as physical. But they are playing at a higher level."
Scott leads the selections to The Times' 1994 Westside All-Star team for the third consecutive year. Yuriko Jung of Venice, Taryn Reynolds of Notre Dame Academy and Sherrise Smith of Crossroads are also repeat selections.
The players, along with their parents and coaches, will be guests of The Times at an awards breakfast at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Guest Quarters Hotel in Santa Monica. Winners of the South Bay player and coach of the year awards will be announced at the breakfast.
A closer look at the all-stars:
Sandy Ginoza (University)--One of the area's most versatile players, the 5-foot-6 Ginoza played point guard, small forward and center during her three seasons at University. Her success came as a result of hard work and a persistent attitude, according to Coach Patricia Peisner. Ginoza averaged 10.4 points and had a game-high 17 points this season.
Deborah Sternlight (Marlborough)--The 5-11 forward catapulted into a starring role this season after replacing the graduated Kathleen Stewart. An excellent inside player, Sternlight averaged 15.5 points and 15 rebounds.
Nicole Codd (Palisades)--Another good inside player, Codd led the Dolphins with averages of 12.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. She had a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds against rival University and scored 19 points in back-to-back games against Fairfax and Los Angeles. Codd was Metro League co-player of the year.
Ellen Johnson (Hamilton)--One of the top centers in the Coastal Conference, Johnson was known for her shot-blocking. Although she averaged only 5.5 points a game, her rebounding strength helped to contribute to the Yankees' scoring. She had 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals against Monroe in the first round of the City Section 3-A Division playoffs. Johnson was Metro League co-player of the year.
Marte Alexander (St. Bernard)--One of the top players in the Southern Section, the 6-4 Alexander has earned a scholarship to Arizona. Alexander, who transferred from Marlborough after her sophomore season, averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds a game and had a 4.0 grade-point average.
Olympia Scott (St. Bernard)--The Stanford-bound senior will go down as one of the top all-around players and one of the best rebounders ever to compete in the Southern Section. A four-year starter, Scott averaged 18.8 points and 15 rebounds a game. She was selected to the Kodak All-American team and to the All-Southern Section team.
Taryn Reynolds (Notre Dame Academy)--The area's leading scorer, Reynolds averaged 24 points and seven rebounds. She has the speed to drive to the basket and the shooting range to make a three-point basket. Reynolds is only a sophomore.
Sherrise Smith (Crossroads)--The 5-5 junior guard is often compared to Reynolds for her scoring ability and athleticism. Smith scored 452 points for an 18.8 average and is also an outstanding dribbler and defender.
Yuriko Jung (Venice)--This 5-8 junior point guard rivals Smith as an offensive threat. Jung can single-handedly beat a press with her dribbling and break down a zone defense with her outside shooting. She helped Venice go undefeated in the Western League.
Jamila Locke (Venice)--Locke was a key player inside for Venice, averaging averaged 13 points and eight rebounds. Locke compensated for her lack of height against taller players with speed and an aggressive playing style.
GIRLS' ALL-STAR TEAM
Name: Marte Alexander School: St. Bernard Year: Senior Points: 16.0
Name: Nicole Codd School: Palisades Year: Junior Points: 12.7
Name: Sandy Ginoza School: University Year: Senior Points: 10.4
Name: Ellen Johnson School: Hamilton Year: Senior Points: 5.5
Name: Yuriko Jung School: Venice Year: Junior Points: 18.0
Name: Jamila Locke School: Venice Year: Senior Points: 13.0
Name: Taryn Reynolds School: Notre Dame Academy Year: Sophomore Points: 24.0
Name: Olympia Scott School: St. Bernard Year: Senior Points: 18.8
Name: Sherrise Smith School: Crossroads Year: Junior Points: 18.8
Name: Deborah Sternlight School: Marlborough Year: Senior Points: 15.5
Westside Girls' Second Team
Player School Yr. Ht. Avg. Yasmeen Yamini-Benjamin Crossroads Jr. 5-10 10.8 Olanike Farodolu St. Bernard Sr. 5-9 8.5 Carly Furuno Venice Sr. 5-6 13.0 Jaime Goodrich Santa Monica Jr. 5-9 12.0 Jenny Hatch Notre Dame Jr. 5-6 12.0 Jenny Ho Brentwood Fr. 5-4 12.0 Celia Mann Fairfax Sr. 5-10 13.7 Mishal Ortiz Hollywood Sr. 5-9 10.5 Oneka Wilmore Westchester Soph. 5-8 16.0 Sandi Woo Culver City Sr. 5-7 15.0