Pearson and Stovall Put Woodbridge in Final Again

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Melanie Pearson and Erin Stovall, the substance and flash behind Woodbridge, put themselves on familiar turf, the Southern California Division II girls' basketball final.

Their act, rapidly growing tiresome in the eyes of opponents, was again a smash Thursday at Woodbridge High. The Warriors, behind their one-two combination, routed Santee Santana, 81-52, putting them in the regional final for the third consecutive year.

The Warriors (30-2), the defending state champions, will play Brea Olinda at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Pond.

Stovall and Pearson got the Warriors there, and they probably will be the catalysts again Saturday.

"We feed off them," Coach Pat Quinn said. "They both give us an adrenaline rush in their own ways."

Their ways were more than Santana (30-3) could handle.

Stovall scored 30 points, mostly off turnovers and fast breaks. She also hit three three-pointers, but her style was definitely at its best in the open court.

"She creates so my things for us with her speed," Pearson said. "She can beat anyone off the dribble. And, oh, she has fast hands."

Fast?

"The fastest."

Stovall twice ignited second-half runs with steals that she turned into layups. The first was a 9-0 blitz that gave the Warriors a 53-38 lead midway through the third quarter.

Stovall made 12 of 20 shots and had six steals. While she was doing the four-on-the-floor bit, Pearson was grinding it out in the half-court offense.

Pearson scored 22 points, mostly on drives from the free-throw line or off offensive rebounds.

"She'll do that behind-the-back thing or dribble between her legs," Stovall said. "All those fancy things."

Fancy?

"It's unbelievable."

Pearson had six assists on drive-and-dish plays. She also had 17 rebounds and blocked four shots.

"Erin takes off and Mel picks 'em apart," Quinn said.

Santana, which reached the Division II regional final a year ago, was unable to deal with either style.

The Sultans stayed close through the first half, keeping the Warriors within reach. Kelly Simers scored 15 of her 18 points in the first half, but Woodbridge closed the second quarter with a 10-3 run for a 42-32 halftime lead.

Simers, who came into the game with 130 three-pointers, was unable to get open shots in the second half. She finished four of 10 on three-pointers, but had four blocked. She didn't take a shot in the fourth quarter.

Sophia Sledge, who has signed with San Diego State, scored 17 points, but was six of 18 from the field.

Woodbridge put the game away with a 10-0 run that took a little more than a minute midway through the fourth quarter. Stovall had two steals and two baskets, while Pearson had two rebounds and two assists.

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