The Southern Section playoffs had a familiar--and expected--look when pairings for the girls’ basketball playoffs were released Monday.
Brea Olinda and Laguna Hills were ranked No. 1. Woodbridge, Ocean View and Capistrano Valley Christian were ranked No. 2.
The Sunset League flexed its muscle with all six teams reaching the playoffs, including Esperanza, which was seeded third in the largest school division, I-AA.
But it was in one of the smaller divisions where controversy broke out.
In Division IV-A, which has been ruled by Cerritos Valley Christian for years--the Crusaders have won five straight section titles--came utter disbelief from Brethren Christian Coach Kim Harris.
Her team, which finished second in the Olympic League to Valley Christian, had been ranked third in the Southern Section poll all season. When Brethren lost to Valley Christian in the first round of league play, the Warriors remained third. When they lost to Valley Christian in the final game of the season, she expected to remain third.
But the 21-member committee dropped Brethren Christian (18-5) to fourth and moving Mojave (21-1) to third.
That means the two Olympic League rivals, Valley Christian and Brethren Christian, could meet for a third time this season in the semifinals instead of the finals.
Neither Harris nor Valley Christian Coach Eleanor Dykstra was pleased, and for apparent good reason.
“According to the rationale they’ve given everyone else, they tried to keep teams from the same league apart until the finals,” Harris said. “The committee of 21 people votes to drop us because we lost our last game to the top-ranked team in the state? They have to go by strength of schedule and league. Those are considerations they made in the past. There’s just no reason.”
Actually, the reason came from Commissioner Dean Crowley, who told Harris that those things were taken into consideration and that the committee “probably felt Mojave was better at the end of the season.”
But after Harris left, Crowley got a look at each team’s schedule.
“I’m sure the committee made their decision based on a last-week loss and the overall record,” he said. “Nothing’s perfect.”
Defending champion: Rolling Hills Peninsula.
Top teams: Palmdale (23-3); Peninsula (23-4); Esperanza (20-5); Capistrano Valley (18-8).
Dark horse: Chino Hills Ayala (21-6). The Bulldogs are athletic at every position, have a 5-10 point guard, a 6-4 center and are physical. They have won six in a row and 11 of 12 since losing to Sacramento Florin, 30-23, and avenged its only loss in that span, 68-62 to Diamond Bar, with a 53-51 victory.
Top players: Candice Allen (Ayala); Mary Anderson (Capistrano Valley); Kelly Boeke (Fountain Valley); Leah Combs (Esperanza); Natasha Combs (Capistrano Valley); Christa Ellis (Los Alamitos); Nicole Funn (Fontana); Allison Gerber (Esperanza); Kristin Geoffroy (Los Alamitos); Heidi Hill (Esperanza); Jenny Jennings (Capistrano Valley); Danielle Jones (Fontana); Marjorie Knott (Palmdale); Lauri McIntosh (Diamond Bar); Allison Napier (Century); Aprile Powell (Century).
Notes: Peninsula beat Palmdale last year for the section title, 36-34. . . . Top-seeded Palmdale has played one county team--Woodbridge--and lost, 61-48. Palmdale and Capistrano Valley have a common opponent. Palmdale lost to La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 45-44, while the Cougars lost, 59-52. . . . Capistrano Valley’s loss to Mater Dei in the final game of the season dropped the Cougars to the No. 4 seed, costing them a chance be the seeded team in the Orange County region. “We’re going to play in Arizona,” quipped assistant Tom Ressler. The No. 2 seed in Region IV is Rialto Eisenhower. . . . Century and Esperanza could meet in the second round. In the Times preseason poll, Century was ranked sixth. Esperanza finished sixth in the final poll, and Century was out of the Top 10. . . . Esperanza won the tough Sunset League with only one loss. “We’ve always been vanilla,” Coach Marc Hill said. “We’re not great at one thing, but we’re pretty good at everything. We’ve been able to adapt during games. That’s been one of our keys.” . . . Diamond Bar averaged 77 points its last six games, including a 53-51 loss to Ayala. . . . McIntosh, a 5-10 junior center, is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds for Diamond Bar. . . . Rialto Eisenhower has three players averaging in double figures: Brandi Hudson (12.2 points), Lydia Afual (11.4) and Janeka Webster (10.4). They could face Capistrano Valley in the quarterfinals. . . . If Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos win their first-round games, they will face each other; the two Sunset League teams split their regular-season meetings--each winning by five points. All six teams from the Sunset League made the playoffs. . . . According to Lynwood’s media sheet, the combined scoring average of 14 players is 155 points per game; the team scored as many 74.
Defending champion: Ventura Buena.
Top teams: Buena (21-2); La Crescenta Crescenta Valley (24-2); Chino (20-5); Mater Dei (18-6).
Dark horse: Marina (17-7). The Vikings are the only county team outside Region IV, which includes Mater Dei, San Clemente and Edison. If they play like they did earlier in the season--and they’ll have two games to get ready for a showdown with Crescenta Valley--the Vikings could reach the semifinals, where Chino probably awaits.
Top players: Monet Andrews (Cerritos); Jean Clark (Chino); Marisa Emde (Marina); Tina Garcia (Mater Dei); Janet Glasby (Westminster); Nicole Greathouse (Buena); Tami Higham (Mission Viejo); Renae Hofmann (Buena); Lori Hurlbut (Mater Dei); Brooke Hyman (Aliso Niguel); Kelley Kruger (San Clemente); Gioconda Mendiola (El Toro); Giuliana Mendiola (El Toro); Charline Mendoza (Mater Dei); Erin Moor (Westminster); Natalie Nakase (Marina); Phouangmaly Pravongviengkham (Huntington Beach); Kirsten Quade (San Clemente); Salma Rasheed (Walnut); Shauna Steward (Edison); Colleen Turnbull (San Clemente).
Notes: Buena beat Mater Dei for the section title last year, 56-51, but lost in the Southern California Regionals to the Monarchs, who went on to win the state title. If they play this year, it will be in the semifinals. . . . Buena’s Greathouse (18.7 points, 11.7 rebounds), a 6-2 center, could have attended almost any college she wanted. She chose UC Santa Barbara because it was close to home. . . . Buena beat visiting Brea Olinda earlier this season, 59-56. Mater Dei beat the Ladycats, 64-61. . . . South Coast League coaches were pushing Mission Viejo as a sleeper in the tournament. The Diablos beat Capistrano Valley, and lost to fourth-seeded Mater Dei by only two points. “They can sneak up on a team that doesn’t think they have to play their ‘A’ game against them--like Capistrano Valley,” said Ressler, the Capistrano Valley assistant. . . . Mission Viejo opens at Edison. “Playing at Edison isn’t an easy thing,” Mission Viejo Coach Jim Irby said. “For Edison and us, it’s a good draw. . . . Marina could face Cerritos in the second round. The Dons are led by 5-10 junior guards Andrews (13.8 points) and Nicole Bryant (11.1). The Dons shot 42.3% from the field this season. . . . Michelle Greco leads Crescenta Valley, averaging 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Defending champion: Woodbridge.
Top teams: Laguna Hills (23-3); Woodbridge (21-4); Torrance North Torrance (21-4); Santa Margarita (19-7).
Dark horse: Norco (17-7). The Cougars play tight man-to-man defense, and if they win their first-round game, they will host fourth-seeded Santa Margarita (most likely) in the the second round.
Top players: Missy Bynon (Villa Park); Debby Caine (Woodbridge); Veronica Cerda (Santiago); Krissy Duperron (Woodbridge); Tayyiba Haneef (Laguna Hills); Whitney Houser (Laguna Hills); Tamara Inoue (Laguna Hills); Cathy Joens (Woodbridge); Tammie Johnson (Cerritos Gahr); Carly Moss (Woodbridge); Jamie Nebeker (El Dorado); Jennifer O’Keefe (Villa Park); Cathy Pacho (Arroyo); Stephanie Patten (El Dorado); Stacy Silva (Cypress); Monet Sykes (Gahr); Diana Taurasi (Chino Don Lugo); Robyn Templeton (Foothill); Mary Tims (Laguna Hills).
Notes: Woodbridge defeated Riverside North in last year’s finals, 56-46, to win its third consecutive section title. . . . Laguna Hills has scored at least 60 points its last six games. The top-seeded Hawks have played second-seeded Woodbridge three times, winning the last two games, 55-48 and 58-42. Woodbridge won the first meeting, 47-44. One of Laguna Hills’ victories is over Crescenta Valley (64-50), the second-seeded team in Division I-A. . . . Woodbridge could face Torrance North Torrance in the semifinals. Woodbridge is led by Duperron. North Torrance is coached by her father, Gary. . . . Laguna Hills Coach Lynn Taylor said he liked the idea of regionalization, especially as the No. 1 seed who gets to remain in the local region. “I prefer Orange County in terms of not having to travel very far,” Taylor said, “but on the other hand, Orange County basketball is very good.” . . . Chino Don Lugo’s 5-10 freshman Taurasi is averaging 31.4 points and 8.8 rebounds. . . . Arroyo has only one player averaging double figures in scoring, senior guard Pacho (17.2). . . . Cypress’ Silva is averaging 12 rebounds per game. . . . Foothill won the Century League title without the benefit of any player averaging double figures in scoring. . . . Gahr, which plays Cypress in a wild-card game, has won four in a row and six of its last seven. The Gladiators lost four consecutive during one stretch, including three to county teams: Esperanza (51-45), Fountain Valley (48-47) and Capistrano Valley (45-42). Sykes and Tammie Johnson are averaging 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Defending champion: Brea Olinda.
Top teams: Brea Olinda (22-3); Ocean View (23-4); San Bernardino (23-3); La Puente Bishop Amat (24-3).
Dark horse: Compton Dominguez (21-5). The Dons are in the bracket opposite Brea and play Ocean View. They lost by one (54-53) to third-seeded San Bernardino and by three (47-43) to Palmdale (seeded No. 1 in Division I-AA) in consecutive games.
Top players: Rochelle Anthony (Brea Olinda); Ladesha Ard (Artesia); Breanna Badorek (Newport Harbor); Allison Box (Bishop Amat); Marissa Bradley (Brea Olinda); M.E. Clayton (Newport Harbor); Kelly Chavez (Bishop Amat); Lindsey Davidson (Brea Olinda); Reychel DeLeon (Valencia); Sarah Fister (Sonora); LaCresha Flannigan (San Bernardino); Heather Green (Pacifica); Heidi Hardeman (Troy); Karen Herco (El Modena); Damaris Hinojosa (Moorpark); Anna Lembke (Ocean View); Valerie Matweeff (El Modena); Briana McIntosh (San Bernardino); Jaymee Pendergast (Pacifica); Shannon Pendergraft (Savanna); Jennifer Plante (Moorpark); Jennifer Saari (Brea Olinda); Jennifer Tuiolosega (Ocean View); Katie Werdel (Garden Grove); Stephanie Wettlin (Brea Olinda); Shannon Wosman (Bishop Amat).
Notes: Brea Olinda won last year’s title with a 54-44 victory over Ocean View. . . . Shannon Wosman, a 6-4 sophomore, is averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for Bishop Amat. The Lancers share a common opponent with Brea; both defeated Victor Valley by 24 points. . . . Some people at the section office Monday thought San Bernardino was overranked, which would leave the door open for Moorpark (21-2), which scored fewer than 60 points only twice and surpassed 70 more than a dozen times.
Defending champion: Torrance Bishop Montgomery, now in III-A.
Top teams: Pasadena Muir (18-7); Mission Hills Alemany (20-4); La Puente (18-5); Menifee Paloma Valley (18-4).
Top players: Charel Bailey (Muir); Kate Beckler (Alemany); Devon Enders (Brawley); Araceli Hernandez (Rancho Alamitos); Angel Hines (Pomona Ganesha); Kelli Kobayashi (Alemany); Nori McCrystal (La Habra); Dana Rios (Alemany); Tiana Sanders (Muir).
Dark horse: Perris (14-12). The Panthers reached the Division II-A semifinals last season and lost to Brea, 54-53; they’ve played a tough schedule, (San Clemente, Woodbridge, Ayala, Crescenta Valley, Chino) and could be ready for the playoff competition. They go through Paloma Valley, which hasn’t seen nearly that kind of competition.
Notes: Alemany, which won section titles in 1992 and 1994, and had virtual wars with Brea, is led by Kobayashi, a 5-4 junior guard Kobayashi who averages 16 points. The Indians are from the Mission League; they are seeded second, and league rival Harvard-Westlake is seeded fourth in Division III-A. . . . La Habra is led by two of its three seniors, McCrystal (11.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) and Lauren Koehler (7.8 points)--the latter is the daughter of Coach John Koehler, who is in his 17th season. . . . Top-seeded Muir is led by Sanders (22.3 poins, 10.0 rebounds) and Bailey (12.3 points, 13.0 rebounds).
Defending champion: Inglewood Morningside.
Top teams: Bishop Montgomery (23-3); San Dimas (19-4); Ojai Nordhoff (20-4); North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (19-6).
Dark horse: Morningside (5-22). The Monarchs were 18-9, but had to forfeit 13 games. Ocean League principals voted to send them to the playoffs as the fourth-place team, though Morningside finished lower than fourth. One of its victories was over Pasadena Muir, 53-45, top-seeded in III-AA.
Top players: Chanel Anderson (Costa Mesa), Erin Barker (Nordhoff), Maggie Barnett (Rosary), Nell Becker (Nordhoff), Sarah Belavic (Rosary), Jill Black (Estancia), Tashara Carter (Bishop Montgomery), Amy Deming (Estancia), Danielle Graham (Bishop Montgomery), Candis Griffin (Duarte), Keisha Irvin (Inglewood Morningside), Koo Kim (Costa Mesa), Chantay Peyton (Costa Mesa), Brooke Porter (Harvard-Westlake), Burgundie Porter (San Dimas), Tamara Quinn (Bishop Montgomery), Corrie Roberts (Harvard-Westlake), Vivi Rodriguez (Estancia), Myeesha Saleem (Monrovia), Omeloge Udeze (Harvard-Westlake), Jocilyn Veal (San Dimas), Andree Verhulst (Bishop Montgomery).
Notes: Bishop Montgomery has victories over Cerritos Valley Christian (No. 1 in IV-A) and Alemany (No. 2 in III-AA), as well as two Northern California powers, Grass Valley Bear River (47-46) and Fair Oaks Del Campo (64-61). Among its losses was a 65-38 decision to Brea. . . . Verhulst, a junior averaging 11 points for Bishop Montgomery, is a familiar name--she played two seasons for Newport Harbor before tranferring. . . . Roberts is averaging 16.5 points for Harvard-Westlake, while Udeze is averaging 11.1 points and 12.5 rebounds.
Defending champion: Cerritos Valley Christian.
Top teams: Valley Christian (23-2); Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson (25-1); Mojave (21-1); Brethren Christian (18-5).
Dark horse: L.A. Brentwood (19-3). The Eagles, having beaten North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, 55-48, are obviously good. They open against Brethren Christian, which could still be seething over getting dropped from third to fourth in the seeding process after a loss to Valley Christian in the final game.
Top players: Tiffany Cave (Santa Monica Crossroads), Cheryl Flores (Bell-Jeff), Ann Marie Harbour (Brethren Christian), Jenny Ho (Brentwood), Jaclyn Johnson (Bell-Jeff), Rachael MacDonald (Brethren Christian), Sarah Middlebrook (Valley Christian), Cindy Oparah (Brethren Christian), Christy Ring (Calvary Chapel), Sharon Sabet (Brentwood), Stephanie Seiler (Santa Monica St. Monica), Tandee Taylor (Valley Christian), Monique Toney (Valley Christian), Christy VandenAkker (Valley Christian).
Notes: Bell-Jeff has the section’s best record. Its only loss this season was to Crescenta Valley, 60-58, in the second game of the season. Johnson, a 6-2 senior, leads the team with averages of 23.1 scoring and 14.6 rebounding. Bell-Jeff has four players 6-0 or taller. . . . Both seniors on Valley Christian’s team have Division I college scholarships. Taylor, a 6-2 center, is headed to USC; Toney, a 5-5 guard, is bound for Pittsburgh. Toney played as a freshman at Esperanza. . . . Middlebrook and Laurie Hinson, who were at Brea Olinda last season, are at Valley Christian this year. Both 5-10 forwards, Middlebrook averaged 11 points and eight rebounds, Hinson eight points and six rebounds. . . . Valley Christian has won nine section titles, beginning in 1982.
Defending champion: Montclair Prep.
Top teams: Covina Western Christian (17-4); Capistrano Valley Christian (19-5); Lone Pine (22-2); Riverside Woodcrest Christian (19-3).
Dark horse: Redlands Arrowhead Christian (18-5). The Eagles took third in the Christian League--and the top two teams are seeded first and fourth. They have to get past Woodcrest Christian to reach the semifinals, and beaten Woodcrest Christian once, 46-37, and lost, 42-41.
Top players: Katy Barstow (Fairmont), Gini Joy Carnery (Capistrano Valley Christian), Marina Cervantes (Lone Pine), Staci Christensen (Lone Pine), Jennifer Dyche (Western Christian), Erin Gilliland (Palos Verdes Chadwick), Edith Guera (Long Beach St. Anthony), Hayley Hall (Capistrano Valley Christian), Diane Kelly (Connelly), Ruth Lazzari (Connelly), Jenni Meister (Western Christian), Lizzy Oliver (Carpinteria Cate), Lynette O’Neal (Riverside Sherman Indian), Jamie Poon (Connelly), Laura Power (Montclair Prep), Tenisha Powers (Woodcrest Christian), Casie Redding (St. Anthony), Bronwyn Roantree (Chadwick), Anchal Saigal (Fairmont), Katie Sico (Woodcrest Christian), Charlene Simril (Western Christian), Kim Smith (Lone Pine), April Young (Anza Hamilton).
Notes: Lone Pine (22-2) has more victories than any team in the division. Capistrano Valley Christian (19-5) is tied for second-most with Woodcrest Christian. . . . Two Christian League teams are seeded 1 and 4, on the upper bracket. Capistrano Valley Christian has played top-seeded Western Christian, and lost, 59-49. . . . Capistrano Valley Christian averaged 14.3 points more than their opponents, 10 more in the first half. . . . Connelly’s first-round opponent, Chadwick, comes with an 18-4 record but losses in two of its last four games.
Defending champion: L.A. Pilgrim.
Top teams: Camarillo Cornerstone Christian (18-2); Pilgrim (20-4); Maricopa (18-5); Santa Maria Valley Christian (13-8).
Dark horse: San Bernardino Christian (13-8). Jennifer Amrine is averaging 22.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.8 blocks, and a single dominant player such as her can make more of a difference in the smaller the division. If she gets some help, the Knights have a chance to move through the No. 4 bracket.
Top players: Jennifer Amrine (San Bernardino Christian), Lea Berry (Valley Christian), Karri Becker (Cornerstone Christian), Brandi Brown (Pilgrim), Stacey Campbell (Wildomar California Lutheran), Melissa Caparino (Heritage Christian), Kristi Humann (Valley Christian), Sunshine Long (Baker Valley), Adeana McDaniel (Maricopa), Cherokee Murphy (Maricopa), Gina Nicholson (Pilgrim), Tiffany Ricks (San Bernardino Christian), Julie Siefert (Cornerstone Christian), Rachel Stevens (Hemet Baptist Christian), Julia Tamai (Cornerstone Christian), Melinda Williams (Heritage Christian).
Notes: Williams, a 5-9 junior forward, is averaging 10.6 points and 14.6 rebounds for Heritage Christian. Caparino is averaging 8.9 and 10.2. . . . If the county’s only team in the division, Heritage Christian, gets past San Bernardino Christian, it will play California Lutheran, which is led by Stacey Campbell, who is averaging 11 points. . . . Murphy, a 6-0 senior, is averaging 16.8 points and 13.7 rebounds. Maricopa has four players averaging double-figure scoring.