Basketball Preview : The Cream of The Crop : Girls: The three-point shot revolutionized the game, and these threesomes will be making a difference in the county this season.


The three-point shot is the weapon. The weapon. Shoot a three and a team can make up plenty of ground in a hurry. Or blow a team out. It’s going on 8 years old, and girls who are now on varsity teams have been shooting it most of their basketball lives.

Shooters have never been better, and the good players are getting younger and younger. Freshmen can contribute right away because they can drill it from outside. Teams are designing plays for it. It’s great. And it’s here to stay.

So to honor the trey, we’re doing nothing but shooting threes.

Three players who can drill the three:

* Dyanna Hatch, Trabuco Hills, played last year for a bad team but had the highest three-point shooting percentage (48%) of any returning player averaging at least two attempts per game.


* Michelle Miyake, Villa Park, buried 53 three-pointers, shot 43% from the arc and averaged 14.9 points. Bad news: out three-to-four weeks with an ankle injury.

* Jenny Jennings, Newport Harbor, made 42% from three-point range last season at Edison.

Three best shooters:

* Lee Moulin, Brea-Olinda, made 24 of her first 25 free throws (and 28 of 32), shot 39% from three-point range during the regular season and 53.3% in 33 games--mostly from the outside.

* Shandy Robbins, Marina: Though renown as a post player, she can shoot the three-pointer with the best of them.

* Melanie Pearson, Woodbridge, has the bulk to drive and a shooting touch to die for.

Three top backcourts:

* Woodbridge: Erin Stovall and Tami Weaver can take care of the ball and handle most opposing guards.

* Mater Dei: Melody Peterson, Rhonda Gondringer and Allison Luckey are adept at creating opportunities and can burn teams deep.

* Brea: Kiyoko Miller and Jennifer Saari are quick, defensive-minded playmakers who can shoot the three-pointer and make a clutch basket.


Three top frontcourts:

* Marina: Shandy Robbins (6-1), Kirsten Cappel (6-3) and Sonya Bryant (5-10) are capable of destroying teams; they are athletic, can shoot from 15-feet in, and can fight for a rebound.

* Woodbridge: Angela Burgess (6-4) and Pearson (6-1) are a handful; Burgess might be the county’s most intimidating player and Pearson can do almost whatever she wants with the ball.

* Newport Harbor: Melissa Schutz (5-11), Dianne Pulido (5-10) and Tina Bowman (5-10) are as athletic as any girls in the county; Schutz and Bowman provide the spring, and Pulido the bulk.

Three players who can dominate a game:

* Marie Philman, Edison, scored 40 or more points four times last season, and 30 or more points 10 times. If she wants it, she can take it.

* Melody Peterson, Mater Dei, can turn a game around with her defense, she can shoot from anywhere on the floor and her athleticism can stir fans into a frenzy.

* Melanie Pearson, Woodbridge, is on a team that won’t need her to dominate a game, but she can step up and take over when she must.


Three players on the spot:

* Jennifer Garrett, Capistrano Valley, had a disappointing season last year while struggling to deal with the death of her father; still, she averaged 14.8 points and 9.6 rebounds through the playoffs.

* Erin Stovall, Woodbridge, had a great freshman year during Woodbridge’s run to the State final, but she was a complementary player to guard Jamie Oenning; Oenning’s gone, and now Stovall must do more of it on her own.

* Melody Peterson, Mater Dei, makes the Monarchs an elite team; without her, they get average in a hurry. But she must show some maturity in this, her junior year.

Three more players on the spot:

* Shandy Robbins, Marina: This is the year that Marina might finally be able to get past the traditional Division I powers, and no matter how much talent surrounds her, the focal point of the Vikings will still be Robbins.

* Raschelle Lawrence, University: She led the influx of new talent to University, and the expectations within the program rose with her arrival from San Clemente.

* Dawn Metz, Brea: Teammates Kiyoko Miller and Lee Moulin are the leaders, but the 6-1 Metz is the Ladycats’ big girl; she must establish herself if Brea is to continue its great run.


Three coaches to watch:

* Jeff Sink, Brea, inherits a program with a 54-game winning streak. At Fairbanks (Alaska) Lathrop he won two state titles and went to seven consecutive state final fours. “But it wasn’t Southern California basketball,” Sink said. “In my mind, I haven’t done anything yet.”

* Eric Bangs, Woodbridge, is in the same spot as John Hattrup was last season at Brea. Hattrup controlled the talent and Brea lived up to the community’s lofty expectations, winning a national championship; Bangs has all the talent, will open the season at No. 1 in Orange County and the community has lofty expectations.

* Dave White, Edison, returns after a seven-year hiatus. He was 142-49 his first go-round, and now inherits one of the county’s best players, Marie Philman.

Three freshmen who will make an impact:

* Elizabeth Fleming, Capistrano Valley, a 5-9 forward who is going to get the ball--often.

* Monique Mathews, University, a 5-10 forward who shoots great and has the moves to match.

* Natalie Nakase, Marina, a quick 5-2 guard who can handle the ball and shoot the three.

Three transfers who will make a difference:

* Kirsten Cappel, a 6-2 junior forward who moved from Connelly to Marina. Cappel was the Academy League MVP last year, and her arrival at Marina gives the Vikings something akin to the Jessica Eggleston-Julie Adams tandem last year at Cypress.

* Krissy Duperron, a 5-10 forward from Riverside Notre Dame to Woodbridge. Duperron comes from a Division V school, but averaged 23 points; she is strong physically and has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, but has never played in a big program.

* Rhonda Gondringer, a 5-10 junior from La Quinta to Mater Dei. Her departure from La Quinta makes a difference there, but her addition to the Monarchs helps take some pressure off Melody Peterson.


Three teams on the rise:

* University got an influx of new blood into the program and, in the Pacific Coast League, will have one of the county’s best records.

* Trabuco Hills was the county’s most improved team from the first day of the season to the last in 1993-94; if the Mustangs show the same growth, they could be a factor in the South Coast League.

* Westminster now has the guards to complement its inside game. Program was 1-99 before Coach Dick Katz arrived; those days are gone.

Three teams to fear in 1995-96 (besides Woodbridge and Brea-Olinda):

* Fountain Valley: Nicole Strange and Jen Ludwicki will be seniors, giving the Barons two of the county’s top-scoring players.

* San Clemente: The Tritons lose only one player who will see considerable playing time, and the program has junior varsity players who could probably play on many varsity teams.

* University: The Trojans should be quick and talented with a sophomore nucleus that will have a year under its belt.


The Top 10

1. Woodbridge

The Warriors lost only one player from last year’s State finalist team, and have three of the county’s best players in senior Angela Burgess, junior Melanie Pearson and sophomore Erin Stovall.

2. Brea-Olinda

The program is too strong to dissolve in one year, and too talented not to be respected with the return of Lee Moulin, Kiyoko Miller and Jennifer Saari from last year’s national champion.

3. Mater Dei

The Monarchs have some of the best guards in the county, including its most physically gifted basketball player, Melody Peterson, and its most notable transfer, Rhonda Gondringer.

4. Marina

The Vikings match up to Woodbridge better than any team in the county, and with a frontcourt of Shandy Robbins (6-1), Kirsten Cappel (6-2) and Sonya Bryant (5-10), No. 4 might be too low.

5. Fountain Valley

With another year of maturity, juniors Nicole Strange and Jennifer Ludwicki are likely to prevent a repeat of last year’s late-season fall, but they’ll need help in the playoffs.

6. Newport Harbor

Coach Shannon Jakosky will outcoach most, and the Sailors aren’t that different from last year--and they were very good-- with the arrival of transfers Jenny Jennings and Andree Verhulst.


7. El Dorado

The Golden Hawks return everyone, including Shanna Renken--and then some--from a 19-8 team that learned what it had to do to compete against the South County schools.

8. Edison

Marie Philman probably will lead the county in scoring, and this year she is surrounded by enough athletes to provide some help, making the Chargers more than one-dimensional.

9. Esperanza

The Aztecs have height, strength and quickness, and are plenty athletic--which is good enough to beat most teams. Their downfall is that three Sunset League teams are above them.

10. Troy

Jennie Gadd (6-3, center) and two other starters return from a 20-6 team with lofty playoff expectations, but the Warriors would be better prepared with a tougher nonleague schedule.

Others to watch: Canyon, Estancia, Ocean View, University, Westminster.