HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Girls' Teams Begin Quests for Titles

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Twenty area girls' soccer teams play first-round Southern Section playoff matches today and the tension will vary from site to site.

Simi Valley, Buena and La Reina are seeded high in their divisions and should advance easily with victories over out-of-area teams.

Other teams, such as Chaminade, face another local team and may be in for a war.

Mission League-champion Chaminade (16-4-4) plays host to a Division II match against Ventura (14-7-2), a fast and feisty team that finished second in the Channel League.

Chaminade Coach Mike Evans is pleased with the draw. His team won its league by a slim margin and has been playing under pressure for the last two weeks. Evans said facing Ventura ensures that Chaminade will continue its intensity against a team it may be able to exploit.

The Cougars make up for a lack of deft ball-handling by booting the ball downfield and letting faster players catch up to it near the opposing goal--an uncertain strategy against Chaminade sweeper Vanessa Thiele.

Thiele is the Eagles' last line of defense in front of goalie Kim Nelli. Her skill at sparking Chaminade's quick transition from defense to offense and at thwarting enemy forwards made her the Mission League's top player this season.

The Eagles will receive an added boost if standout midfielder Tammi Pivnick can return from an injured knee. Pivnick, a member of the under-16 U.S. National team, has 24 goals and 15 assists in 21 matches.

Ventura has injury problems of its own. Talented forward/defender Natalie Dorr has missed the last two weeks because of a blood clot in her ankle.

Dorr's absence has complicated the plans of Cougar Coach Mike Ishihara, who has only a few club-team players on his roster.

"One of our weaknesses is that we don't get a lot of full-time soccer players," said Ishihara, who starts six underclassmen.

"We're going to try and hold (Chaminade) scoreless and see how things go from there."

Ventura is counting on a top-notch sweeper of its own, Kari Attebery.

Attebery is one of the Cougars who make up for a lack of soccer refinement with pure determination. "She's not afraid to go in full force and knock people down," Ishihara said.

In other Southern Section matchups, Hart (13-4-4) plays at Quartz Hill (14-3-4) in Division III and L.A. Baptist (5-10) is at Paraclete (16-2-1) in Division IV.

The City Section girls' playoffs begin Wednesday with 16 teams split into eight-team 4-A and 3-A brackets.

The 4-A draw features a local first-round matchup with No. 6-seeded El Camino Real playing at No. 3 Grant.

Grant (11-0-1) won the Mid-Valley/North Conference title and appears headed for a championship-match showdown with West Valley champ and No. 1-seeded Chatsworth (12-0).

But Grant must first get by El Camino Real (8-3-1) and most likely Coastal Conference champ San Pedro (12-0) before playing for a City title.

Chatsworth, the City champion from 1989-93, is taking nothing for granted after having its streak broken by San Pedro in last year's quarterfinals.

"I think that game woke our players up significantly," Chancellor Coach Jack Sidwell said.

"They won't be taking their eyes off anyone in the playoffs anymore."

In the 3-A playoffs, No. 4-seeded Birmingham (6-5-1) hosts Westchester (5-3-4) and No. 2 Cleveland (6-6) hosts Garfield (7-3-1).

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