RAGS TO RICHES
At the start of the season, the chance of the Narbonne High girls' basketball team advancing to the City Section 3-A Division championship game appeared to be slim at best.
The Gauchos were coming off a 6-15 season in which they finished last in the Southern League of the Southern Pacific Conference.
The last time Narbonne won a championship in any sport was 1991, and that was in girls' volleyball.
Narbonne opened the season with no seniors in its starting lineup, but the young Gauchos (18-7) have matured quickly and play fourth-seeded Chatsworth (20-5) for the 3-A title at 6 p.m. Friday at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Narbonne has won its past 11 games, including victories over 4-A teams Banning and Carson. James Anderson, who is in his second season as co-coach with Maria Johnson, says there is no mystery about the team's sudden success.
"Talent makes a world of difference," he said. "Last year we didn't have the talent to compete, but now we do."
The Gauchos have been led by 6-foot-4 junior center Robin Hayes and 5-10 sophomore forward Kawai Matthews. Hayes scored 23 points, had 15 rebounds and blocked five shots in Narbonne's 53-42 semifinal victory last week over Fremont.
Narbonne has also received solid performances from its other starters, juniors K.K. Butler and Jennifer Kobayashi and sophomore Patrice Barnes.
"I think we're in the top five (in the City) in terms of talent," he said.
If the Gauchos win the title, Anderson says the next step is to move up to the 4-A next season and strengthen its reputation in City circles.
"We want to build a nice program and we'll be patient," he said. "But we also want to show that we're not a flash in the pan and that we can get back there again."
The first step would be defeating Chatsworth for the 3-A title Friday.
ON A ROLL
Dwan Hurt, coach of the Serra High boys' basketball team, says he never places too much emphasis on his squad's early season record.
That was especially the case this season, when the Cavaliers played a difficult nonleague schedule and struggled.
"I always tell my team it doesn't matter what your record is as long as you get into the playoffs," Hurt said. "When you start the playoffs, your record is always zero and zero."
Since the start of Del Rey League play, the Cavaliers have stepped up their play. Serra (17-11) finished in a tie with St. John Bosco for the league title and will take a seven-game winning streak into the Southern Section Division IV-A championship game against Verbum Dei (21-5) on Friday night at the UC Irvine's Bren Center.
The Cavaliers have only three seniors on their 14-player roster, although the three--Milton Palacio, Leonard Butler and Paul Foster--have played an integral role in Serra's success.
With six sophomores and five juniors on the roster, Serra's future appears promising. But Hurt said the Cavaliers are not looking toward the future at the moment.
"This team is not going to take no for an answer," Hurt said. "They don't even know how to spell the word lose. They want to win a championship."
YOUNG AND COMING
It has been a pretty impressive debut for Yvette Angel as coach of the Bishop Montgomery girls' basketball team.
The Knights (23-4) have been ranked among the top teams in the state in Division III most of the season and are advancing to the Southern Section Division III-AA championship game against Newbury Park (27-1) at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
The team's success is even more impressive when you consider Bishop Montgomery does not have a senior in its starting lineup. The leaders are sophomores Tashara Carter, who plays forward and guard; junior center Tiffany Washington and guard Danielle Graham.
Newbury Park has won 22 games in a row and is ranked No. 6 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.
It has been a season of firsts for the Cal State Dominguez Hills women's basketball team.
The Toros won their first California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title with a 53-49 victory Saturday over Cal State Los Angeles and will be bidding their first NCAA playoff berth when they play host to the semifinals of the conference tournament tonight in Carson.
Top-seeded Dominguez Hills (19-5) will have a rematch against the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles (16-10) at 8 tonight. Second-seeded UC Riverside plays Cal State San Bernardino at 6 p.m. The winners will meet for the tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs 6 p.m. Saturday at UC Riverside.
Dominguez Hills has already established school records for wins and winning percentage.
Junior forward Faye Hagan needs only seven points to break the school's single-season scoring record of 475 points set in the 1983-84 season by Adrienne Harris.
The Harbor College women's basketball team has had to overcome a number of obstacles to reach the quarterfinal round of the state community college tournament for the fourth season in a row.
The biggest obstacle was undoubtedly the loss of coach Louie Nelson, who was fired in January after he allegedly punched guard LaTrece Polk in the face. Polk, one of the team's top offensive players, played in only one game after the incident.
The defending state champion Seahawks (30-6) won the South Coast Conference title under co-interim coaches Loretta Thomas and Herbert Ivy. They reached the quarterfinals by defeating Chaffey, 70-68, Saturday in the Southern California Regional Finals.
They will play College of the Sequoias (28-4) at 2 p.m. today at Orange Coast College. If Harbor wins, the Seahawks will play in the semifinals against either Ventura or Siskiyous at 8 p.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday.
The Seahawks have lost all three games they have played against Sequoias in the past, including a 63-41 setback in the East Bay Classic early in the season. They also lost to Sequoias twice during the 1991-92 season.
Harbor has been led by sophomore guard Michelle Duckworth, a transfer from Cerritos College who averages 27.9 points and five steals, and sophomore forward Rayjanette Lampkin, who played as a freshman at Long Beach State. Lampkin averages 14.9 points.
The difference for Harbor has been its defense, which has forced an average of 20 turnovers. The Seahawks have outscored their opponents by an 82.6-60.3 margin and lead the state in margin of victory.
White has been one of the few bright spots for the Lions (6-20, 2-12), who will play top-seeded San Francisco (21-4, 13-1) in the first round of the WCC tournament at 6 tonight at Toso Pavilion in Santa Clara. The second round is Friday and the championship is Sunday.
It is Loyola's first appearance in the tournament, which has been expanded to include all eight conference schools.
White, who averages 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds, finished third in the conference in scoring and fourth in rebounding. In her career with the Lions, she ranks second in scoring and field goals and third in rebounds. She has also established a school record with 170 field goals this season.
Ime Oduok, a 6-9 junior forward for the Loyola Marymount men's basketball team, has been named to the All-West Coast Conference first team. Oduok averages 12.2 points and leads the WCC in rebounding at 9.2.
Senior forwards Wyking Jones, who played in high school at St. Bernard, and Robin Kirksey, who played at Gardena, received honorable mention. The Lions (12-14, 4-10) play top-seeded Santa Clara in the first round of the WCC tournament on Saturday at Santa Clara.
It was a milestone for the Loyola Marymount women's softball team when it defeated 19th-ranked Long Beach State, 2-1, in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday at Long Beach.
The victory marked the first time that the Lions have defeated a nationally ranked opponent.
Loyola (7-10) travels to Northern California for games at 2 p.m. Friday against St. Mary's, noon Saturday at Stanford and noon Sunday against Santa Clara.
Loyola's improvement has been sparked by players such as freshman pitcher Jenny Chambers and junior pitcher and outfielder Kim Qualls, a transfer from El Camino College who drove in five runs last week in a win over the University of San Diego.
The Cal State Dominguez Hills women's softball team will take a seven-game winning streak into the CCAA tournament on Friday and Saturday at Cal State San Bernardino.
The Toros (9-3), under first-year coach Stephanie Fleischaker, maintained their winning ways by sweeping UC San Diego, 6-0 and 11-1, in a doubleheader last week. Dominguez Hills has been sparked by sophomore pitcher Tamara Sagert, who has started and earned the decision in each of her team's games.
The 1995 prep baseball season will open with the 27th annual El Segundo tournament at 3 p.m. Friday at sites throughout the Southland.
Many of the top teams in the Southern Section will be featured in the 32-team tournament, including Cerritos Gahr, which finished second in Division II last season, and West Torrance, which placed second in Division III. Other top teams include perennial Division I powers Millikan and Simi Valley, defending champion Brea and host El Segundo.
First-round matchups involving South Bay teams include: Banning at Millikan; South Torrance at Gahr; Long Beach Wilson at North Torrance; Bell Gardens at Mira Costa; Torrance at Royal; Carson at Edison; Peninsula at Burbank Burroughs; Burbank at El Segundo and West Torrance at Lynwood.
Second-round games are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday; the quarterfinals are at 3 p.m. Tuesday; semifinals at 3 p.m. March 9 and the final is at 7:30 p.m. March 11 at Recreation Park in El Segundo.
Registration is ongoing for the Southern California Roadrunners, a track and field team for boys and girls age 8 through grade eight. Practices are weekdays through May 25 at Palos Verdes Intermediate School.
The cost is $175 including equipment, uniform and selected entry fees. Information: Barry Sacks at (310) 514-2030.
* Boys and girls ages 7 to 12 are eligible to compete in the annual Hawthorne Kiwanis youth track meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hawthorne High. There is no charge to compete and all participants will receive a certificate.
Registration is at the Hawthorne Parks and Recreation Department office, 3901 El Segundo Blvd. Information: (310) 970-7230.