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It’s a Season-Long Climb to the Top

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The girls’ basketball team at Harbor City Narbonne lost to Crenshaw in last season’s section 4-A final and also lost to the Cougars in the state regional final.

But anyone who saw the Gaucho team that finished 24-6 knew it had the potential to be special this season.

Coach James Anderson, in his fifth season, has the most talented group in his tenure.

“On paper, we’re great,’ Anderson said. “but we still haven’t won anything yet.”

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Here is a look at the top 10 girls’ teams in the Southland:

* HARBOR CITY NARBONNE

* 1996-97 record: 24-6.

* Coach: James Anderson.

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Junior off-guard Jessica Cheeks, sophomore point guard Latasha O’Keith and senior forward Amber White lead the Gauchos.

Ebony Hoffman, who did not participate in the playoffs but was the leading scorer and rebounder in the first half of last season, also returns. Freshman guard Loree Moore and junior Portia Mitchell, a transfer from North Torrance, are the top newcomers.

* BREA OLINDA

* 1996-97 record: 29-4.

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* Coach: Jeff Sink.

Lindsey Davidson is the only returning starter for the perennially powerful Ladycats, but Chelsea Trotter (6 foot 2) and Kate Ides (6-1 1/2) provide height.

* CRESCENTA VALLEY

* 1996-97 record: 29-4.

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* Coach: Damian Scribner.

Scribner, in his first season with the Falcons, inherits four starters from last season, including UCLA-bound forward Michelle Greco, senior guard Tara Gregory and sophomore forward Sinnamonn Garrett.

* VENTURA BUENA

* 1996-97 record: 27-3.

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* Coach: Joe Vaughan.

The Bulldogs have won four of the last five Southern Section Division I-A titles under Vaughan. Senior guard Renae Hoffman is top returner, 6-2 freshman center Kelly Greathouse the top newcomer.

* PALOS VERDES PENINSULA

* 1996-97 record: 25-5.

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* Coach: Wendell Yoshida.

The Panthers will be strong once again with point guard Lauryn Morita running the offense and 6-foot Natalie Kelly in the frontcourt.

* SAN CLEMENTE

* 1996-97 record: 19-8.

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* Coach: Mary Mulligan.

Post player Colleen Turnbull and point guard Kelly Kruger are the top returning players for the Tritons. Debby Caine is an outstanding shooter from three-point range.

* DIAMOND BAR

* 1996-97 record: 24-4.

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* Coach: Jim Salyer.

Lauri McIntosh is one of the best shooters from the wing in the Southland, and she makes Diamond Bar a favorite to repeat as Sierra League champion.

* COMPTON DOMINGUEZ

* 1996-97 record: 22-5.

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* Coach: Albert Turner.

Senior frontcourt player Sharonni Spencer and senior point guard Shaketha Ashley give the Tarbabes a solid offensive combination.

* RIVERSIDE NORTH

* 1996-97 record: 23-4.

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* Coach: John Reinhold.

Julia Gray, a 5-5 point guard is one of the best athletes playing girls’ basketball. Last year she participated in the state track meet in the 400 meters.

* ANAHEIM ESPERANZA

* 1996-97 record: 20-6.

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* Coach: Marc Hill.

Center Leah Combs is one of five returning starters for the Aztecs. Heidi Hill and Kim Omer give Esperanza a solid backcourt.


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