SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Woodbridge Has Defense to Defend : Division II-AA girls: Warriors win second consecutive Southern Section championship by beating Mission Hills Alemany, 53-45.


There was nothing flashy, nothing spectacular, nothing particularly impressive about it.

It was only efficient, and that was brilliant enough.

Woodbridge successfully defended its Southern Section Division II-AA girls' basketball title Friday with a blue collar effort that should have qualified them as teamsters.

Although the offense was missing at times, the Warriors delivered defense by the truckload in a 53-45 victory over Mission Hills Alemany at the Pyramid.

Woodbridge (29-1) should be the top-seeded team in the Southern California Regional, which will have the Warriors playing at home on Tuesday.

Alemany (24-3), seeded third, failed in its bid to avenge last year's 46-41 Regional loss to Woodbridge. Still, the Indians will play in the regional as a consolation prize.

How much defense was there?

* Alemany (24-3) didn't attempt its first shot until 1 minute 23 seconds elapsed--time enough for three turnovers.

* Alemany didn't score its first basket until there were only 52 seconds left in the first quarter, enough time for the Indians to miss eight field goals and turn the ball over nine times.

* Alemany had only 32 points until freshman guard Kelli Kobayashi got hot with four three-point baskets in the final 1:31 of the game.

"It was ugly," Woodbridge Coach Eric Bangs said, "but it was pretty to me."

The only thing that prevented the Warriors (29-1) from blowing their opponent out of the arena was themselves. While Alemany committed nine first-quarter turnovers, Woodbridge committed eight. Woodbridge went the final 5:04 of the first half with only one free throw, allowing Alemany to climb back into the game.

Woodbridge survived that drought because of what preceded it. Alemany had whittled an 18-5 deficit midway in the second quarter to only four, 23-19, on the first possession of the second half. After a free throw by Erin Stovall and two by Tami Weaver, Woodbridge's defense sparked the offense.

On the Alemany end, Melanie Pearson stole an inbounds pass that led to a Stovall layup. Next time in the Alemany end, Krissy Duperron stole the inbounds pass and Weaver converted it into a three-point play on the layup. The lead was back at 12 points, 31-19, before Alemany closed with a 7-1 run.

"Easy buckets were a difference," Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy said. "We never got any."

That was because of the defense. There were no freebies to be had. There were no breakaway layups, and there was nothing easy underneath for 6-foot-4 Carly Funicello, who many consider the state's most highly sought junior.

Funicello scored only four points--11 below her average--while being tag-teamed by Angela Burgess and Lisa Weaver. Funicello was one for seven from the field; she led the Indians with 10 rebounds.

"Their defense was really tough on Carly," said Alemany guard Samantha Rigley, who scored a game-high 19 points. "We couldn't get her the ball and when we did, she fumbled it because they collapsed on her."

Stovall and Duperron were early heroes. Stovall scored eight of Woodbridge's first 12 points; she finished wih 17 before fouling out with 41 seconds left.

Duperron had six first-quarter rebounds and finished with a game-high 14 to go along with her nine points.

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