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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL : Closer Not Enough for Simi Valley

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Marmonte League’s present met its future Tuesday night.

Newbury Park High, loaded with seniors, defeated up-and-coming Simi Valley, 58-52, in a girls’ basketball game at Moorpark High.

“They’re exactly where we were a year ago,” said Newbury Park Coach Nori Parvin of the Pioneers, who have eight underclassmen among their 11 players.

But Simi Valley, which lost to the Panthers, 57-36 and 59-46, in December, is closing the gap.

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“We definitely have improved,” Pioneer Coach Dave Murphy said. “Our team reminds me a lot of them last year.”

The missing ingredient may be experience, a commodity the Panthers have in abundance.

It paid off with 15 seconds left, when senior Julie Wastell sank two free throws to extend Newbury Park’s lead to 56-52.

“That’s the one person we were trying not to foul,” Murphy said.

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Wastell, who scored 13 points, was ready.

“I just told myself to relax,” she said. “I tried to think they were just like any other free throws.”

With their 14th consecutive victory, the Panthers (19-1) extended their league lead to two games over Simi Valley (17-4, 7-2).

Newbury Park’s 9-0 league record is its best since 1979, when it won its first 11 games.

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The Panthers trailed, 37-32, when Simi Valley junior Tawnee Cooper scored on a reverse layup for two of her 25 points.

However, the Pioneers missed their next 13 shots, and Newbury Park went on a 15-2 run for a 47-39 lead early in the fourth quarter.

“Good teams go on runs,” Murphy said. “Excellent teams go on even more runs.”

The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section’s Division III poll and sixth in the state rankings, received production from several sources.

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Reserve Amy Berman scored 14 points, including two three-point baskets in the fourth quarter.

Jann Thorpe contributed 14 points and eight rebounds, while Kara McKeown had seven points and 13 rebounds.


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