TODAY'S CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES : Metz Showing Critics That Brea Olinda Isn't Soft Inside : Division II-A Girls: A little-used reserve last season, senior center helps Ladycats continue winning tradition.


The coach described it as "weeping openly."

The player admitted she cried "for 30 minutes."

Tears of joy and conquest.

For Brea Olinda's Dawn Metz, that was her method of celebrating her defining moment as a player.

Metz, a 6-foot-2 senior, played the game of her life for 32 minutes in December, and then tearfully basked in stopping Atherton Sacred Heart's 80-game winning streak.

It was a game Brea, under first-year Coach Jeff Sink, wasn't supposed to win. Not against Sacred Heart's USC-bound Jenny Circle, a 6-3 center averaging 19 points a game. But Metz held Circle to 13 in a 57-56 upset.

Pepperdine Coach Mark Trakh, who was Brea's coach when Metz joined the program as a freshman, was watching as the Ladycats beat the nation's seventh-ranked team, and followed with a victory the next night over the No. 6 team, Fresno Clovis West.

"It's unbelievable how much she's improved," Trakh said.

Brea (27-2) will try to win its seventh consecutive Southern Section title in a Division II-A final against Pasadena Muir (24-2) at 3:15 p.m. today at the Pyramid.

The knock on the Ladycats (27-2) is that they have no inside game. Tell it to Sacred Heart.

"That was the first big tournament game and I knew I had to shut (Circle) down and I did," Metz said. "I showed my teammates that I'm going to be there for them and I'm going to work as hard as I can, even if it's against the No. 1 girl in the state.

"And I wanted people to know that Brea had a center."

Brea has a center. Woodbridge Coach Eric Bangs knew as much before the Warriors beat the Ladycats in the title game of that tournament two nights later, Dec. 23, ending Brea's 65-game winning streak.

"I don't know what people are talking about," Bangs said. "They have an inside game."

Woodbridge is the team to beat in the State tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Warriors are ranked No. 1 in the state and stand in the way of Brea's unprecedented fifth consecutive State title.

Woodbridge also was the opponent in Metz's worst game this season.

"For that tournament, we had tough games the whole way through," she said. "We were physically and mentally tired, and they walked through that tournament."

Despite the loss to Woodbridge, Brea has been a surprise. In a rebuilding year with a new coach--the program's third in three years--it has gone 4-2 against state powers, also defeating Mission Hills Alemany and Riverside J.W. North. The other loss was to Mater Dei.

One of the reasons Brea is so surprising is that Metz hasn't been the pushover in the paint that everyone expected.

"No one knows me because I never played," she said. "I guess I could throw my hands up in the air, but I've been working hard against all the teams we've played; I haven't hid in the shadows."

Metz wasn't hiding as much as she was buried on the bench. After sitting most of her freshman season, she started on the junior varsity as a sophomore and got the token call-up to varsity for the playoffs. She played sparingly last year during Brea's 33-0 season, playing behind Colleen Hudson and Sarah Beckley.

"Basically, I've been a bench-warmer--I was in charge of water," Metz said.

Sink had to give Metz a chance out of necessity; he hasn't been disappointed. Her turnaround jumper has become a staple and her work ethic not only helped Brea avoid a tremendous drop off from other Brea champions but has drawn attention from colleges, especially Willamette (Salem, Ore.) and Cal Poly Pomona.

"It was a lot of pressure," Metz said. "Everyone said Brea wouldn't have a center this year, and I had to prove to them and to myself that I had it inside of me."

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