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Time to Hoop It Up : JC women: Ventura loses some talent but Mircetic should have more than enough returning to continue winning ways.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For those who thought Ventura College had a great women’s basketball team last season, look out. Sixth-year Coach Ned Mircetic says the Pirates are going to be even better in 1995-96.

That may seem difficult considering Ventura ended the season with a 28-3 record after losing to Orange Coast College in the semifinals of the State tournament.

“This year we have explosive quickness,” Mircetic said. “We’re not only faster than last year, we pass the ball better and we rebound better.”

The Pirates averaged 76 points a game in ’94-95 and limited opponents to an average of 56. The gap will be bigger this season, Mircetic says.

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Only two players are back from last season--point guard Marina Reyes and forward Tori Anderson--but several talented freshmen should step up immediately.

Kadaiya Johns, a freshman from Long Beach Poly High, will start at guard and Adria Sneed, from Juanita High in Bell View, Wash., at center. Sneed is 6-feet-1 with good speed and a solid 15-foot shot, Mircetic said. Brianna Kanongata’a, a 5-10 freshman from Rio Mesa, probably will start at forward.

The Pirates also have three solid freshmen from Buena High--Kara Newman, who Mircetic says is an excellent defensive player, Sara Phelps and Amanda Falls.

“We have 10 players and all of them will play a lot,” said Mircetic, who shared Western State Conference coach of the year honors last season with Greg Herrick of Canyons. “They are all very solid.”

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Ventura’s opener is Friday against Golden West in the Chaffey tournament.

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The following is a rundown of other area teams:

CANYONS

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COACH: Greg Herrick, fourth season

LAST SEASON: 30-6

The Cougars will be hurt by the academic ineligibility of point guard Kyetra Brown, a three-time All-City Section selection from Jefferson High who shared WSC co-player of the year honors last season with Julie Hardy of Ventura.

“She should be back next season,” Herrick said. “We will really miss her.”

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Sophomore Bev Hunt, a transfer from Azusa Pacific and LaLa Aratoon, a freshman from Glendale High, will split duties at the point.

Kerri Garland will return at center and Stephanie Labor at forward. Garland, an All-WSC pick last season, led the team in rebounding (11.0) and averaged 8.5 points. Labor, also an All-WSC pick, averaged 13.8 points and eight rebounds as a freshman.

The team’s top freshman is Maxine Unverferth, a two-time All-Southern Section forward from Paraclete High.

Canyons reached the State Final Eight tournament in ’94-95, and the Cougars haven’t lost a WSC game in two seasons.

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“Expectations have been raised so high that people are disappointed if we don’t win 30 games every season,” Herrick said.

Canyons opens Saturday at Fullerton.

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GLENDALE

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COACH: Kathy Pudelko, sixth season

LAST SEASON: 6-21

The Vaqueros’ top newcomer is point guard Minnie Caluag, a transfer from Azusa Pacific.

“She has real good speed and she can shoot from the outside as well as the inside,” Pudelko said.

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Heather Green (6-2), a part-time starter at center last season, will play full-time this season, and Palisades High freshman Nicole Cod (5-10) will be at forward.

“What we’re trying to do is win games that we couldn’t finish off in past years,” Pudelko said. “We’re going to run the ball as much as we can and apply some pressure.”

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MOORPARK

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COACH: Sherry Ruter, first season

LAST SEASON: 8-22

The Raiders are starting from scratch, with a new coach and new players. Last season Moorpark struggled after Coach Lisa Ziegler resigned abruptly in December and Remy McCarthy took over as interim coach.

Ruter, 28, was an assistant at Cal Lutheran the past two seasons. She was an All-WSC pick at Moorpark in 1985-86 and also played at Nevada and Chico.

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“We’re just trying to rebuild,” Ruter said. “When I got this job I didn’t have one player on the team.”

Three Simi Valley High graduates are expected to contribute--Carrie Billone at guard and Corey Phillips and Heidi Petz at forward.

Trisha Palmquist, a guard from Village Christian, also will play extensively.

“We don’t have a lot of size, but we have good speed,” Ruter said. “So we will run a lot.”

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Moorpark will play in the Chaffey tournament Friday.

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OXNARD

COACH: Alex Flores, sixth season

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LAST SEASON: 13-15

Four starters return and Flores says his 13-woman roster is the biggest he’s had at the school.

Mickie Liufau (11 points, eight assists a game) is back as the team’s point guard and Allison Jones returns at forward. Jones was a second-team All-WSC pick last season who averaged eight points and six rebounds.

The team’s top freshmen include Nakima Ireland, a 5-11 forward from Rialto, and guard Becca Liufau, Mickie’s younger sister.

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“We’re going to be a good defensive team,” Flores said. “We’re not exceptionally fast, but we have a good shooting team that can control the tempo.”

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PIERCE

COACH: Larry Allbritton, second season

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LAST SEASON: 11-17

If last season was any indication, the Brahmas could threaten the 20-victory mark. A year ago, they won more than twice as many games as the previous season, when they were 5-22.

Pierce still struggled in WSC play, however, with a 2-8 record.

Kim Butler, a 6-1 sophomore from Simi Valley, probably will start at center.

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VALLEY

COACH: John Taylor, third season

LAST SEASON: 21-11

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Guard Valery Brady is the Monarchs’ only returning player. Despite missing 12 games because of a foot fracture, Brady averaged 20 points and five assists.

The team’s top newcomers include redshirt forwards Shawanda Hotchkiss and Cathy Flores. Both were All-Southern Section picks, Hotchkiss at Channel Islands and Flores at Bell-Jeff.

Freshman Jenille Ramos, who led Wilmington Banning to a City Section 3-A Division title, will start at point guard.

“This is one of the deepest teams I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Taylor said. “We’ll play at least 10 or 12. It’s a solid crew. We handle the ball well and we’re real quick.”

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Valley opens Thursday against Rancho Santiago in the Tip-Off tournament at Mt. San Antonio.

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ANTELOPE VALLEY

COACH: Jackie Lott, sixth season

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LAST SEASON: 5-23

Andi Boswell, one of the team’s best shooters, returns as point guard.

LaNeesha Cayce, who played two seasons ago, has recovered from a major knee injury and will start at guard. Nicole Hicks, a strong outside shooter, also is expected to play in the backcourt.

The Marauders, who play in the Foothill Conference, gained 6-foot center Shelly Crockam, a transfer from San Bernardino Valley.

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“She’s real strong offensively and defensively,” Lott said. “And her experience will help us a lot.”

Antelope Valley plays host to Santa Barbara on Friday.


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