Laguna Hills was within eight seconds of advancing to the Southern Section Division II-A title game before losing in triple overtime to Ocean View last season.
As a motto to push his team to the next level this season, Coach Lynn Taylor wanted his players to break every timeout with the yell, "Eight seconds!"
No way. "They said they didn't want to be reminded of it," Taylor said.
"Last year's experience, for better or worse, makes us better."
--Marissa Bradley, Brea Olinda guard, on the Ladycats' eighth consecutive section title but failure to reach the state championship game.
Three of the county's top 15 players have knees worth watching closely.
* Jennifer Tuiolosega, Ocean View point guard, wasn't the same player she was as a sophomore after reconstructive ACL surgery before her junior year. But she says he is getting her speed back and she's nearly 100% of her old self. A two-time second-team Times all-county player (averaging 17.8 points as a sophomore, 14.6 as a junior), if she really is back to her pre-injury self, look out.
* Jennifer Saari, Brea point guard, averaged 18 points after a miserable performance against Mater Dei that led her to take a more dominant role in the offense. But she suffered a crucial strained knee in the first game of the playoffs, which impacted Brea's ability to challenge Woodbridge for the right to play in the state championship game. If she's back, and still determined, she's the force in North County.
* Krissy Duperron, Woodbridge forward, is probably the county's toughest player but torn cartilage kept her out of 21 games. Her rebounding and on-court presence--she shot 70% and averaged 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 12 games--could make the difference for the Warriors between good and very good.
Last year, Tustin made Michele Bilodeau the co-coach with Rick Falk. Bilodeau had no previous coaching experience, but Tustin's administration indicated it wanted a female presence on the staff.
This year, Tustin made Steve Dunmeyer the head coach and Falk the assistant. Players were told the school wanted to go in "a new direction."
Dunmeyer's previous experience was coaching a handful of freshman boys' games. Falk's record over 12 years at Tustin was 169-104, and the Tillers reached the section final in 1992. Tustin was 12-14 last season.
"We wanted to make our basketball program competitive," said Principal Bob Boies, a former girls' basketball coach. "We're constantly evaluating our coaches and programs and demanding they meet the highest standards."
"I don't usually watch that much TV, between basketball and school."
--Jennifer Tuiolosega, San Diego-bound senior, who has a B-plus average, plays basketball year-round, referees youth games on weekends and is an unofficial assistant coach on the freshman-sophomore team.
More than half of the Laguna Beach team is made up of twins. The Artists have 2 1/2 sets, April and Chrissy Chambers, 5-6 senior guards; Rachel and Robin Globus, 5-6 junior guards; and Ali Lichterman, a 5-3 senior guard whose sister, Lisa, didn't come out this season.