REMATCH

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For two seasons, they have shared Mission League championships, mutual admiration and roads to the summit of girls' basketball in Southern California.

But sharing will not be an option tonight at 6, when Alemany High and Harvard-Westlake meet at the Pyramid in Long Beach for the Division III Southern Regional championship.

"We're really happy to be facing Alemany again," said Harvard-Westlake forward L'Tanya Robnett, whose team split two games with the Indians for the second consecutive season. "We know we can beat them if we play like we [have recently]."

Harvard-Westlake (28-5), Southern Section Division III-A champion, has won nine consecutive games and is enjoying its best season in the program's seven-year history.

Alemany (26-6), Southern Section Division III-AA champion, has dominated the Mission League during the 1990s, and claimed its sixth consecutive league title this season.

Harvard-Westlake has challenged that dominance over the past two seasons--the Wolverines are 49-13 overall compared to Alemany's 50-12 mark.

A Wolverine victory tonight would not only even those records, but also avenge Harvard-Westlake's worst loss of the season, 73-53 to the Indians on Feb. 6.

"I think there are different viewpoints on this game," said Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy, who enters the game with 298 victories in her 13-year career. "To us, this is more a game of wanting to beat them to get a shot at state. With them, I get the impression that it's about beating us after we [beat them] the last time."

Each team has only one senior in its starting lineup, Alemany's Kelli Kobayashi and Harvard-Westlake's Corrie Roberts, making their respective marches through the postseason improbable.

"The state [tournament] is just blowing my mind," said Karina Siam, Alemany's freshman center. "I didn't really know what to expect. . . Every game is the same amount of pressure."

With high-scoring All-Southern Section guards Kobayashi and Kate Beckler, top-seeded Alemany has its best chance of advancing to the state final.

In two previous trips to the regional final, the Indians fell to Bishop Montgomery in 1992 and Woodbridge in '94.

Second-seeded Harvard-Westlake has not advanced beyond the second round of the section playoffs until this season.

"The most satisfying thing is that we wanted to get to this level together, as a team, and we have accomplished that," Wolverine forward Omelogo Udeze said.

The winner of the regional will advance to the state championship game March 21 at 1:15 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep of San Francisco faces Acalanes of Lafayette tonight for the Northern Regional championship at Delta College in Stockton.

The last team from the Valley/Ventura area to win a regional title was Newbury Park in 1995. Buena was the last team from the area to win a state title, capturing the Division I crown in 1983-84.

Neither previous meeting between Alemany and Harvard-Westlake has been close.

The Wolverines led by as many as 20 during a 59-45 rout of Alemany on Jan. 13 at Harvard-Westlake. The Indians returned the favor with the romp on their home court, L.A. Baptist High.

There were few highlights during that Feb. 6 game for Udeze and Brooke Porter, two of Harvard-Westlake's key players.

"That's a safe thing to say," said Udeze, the Wolverines' leading scorer, who was shut out by the Indians.

Porter, the Wolverines' player of the game in last week's section championship victory over Morningside, also was shut out against Alemany.

Throughout the postseason, Harvard-Westlake Coach Brian Taylor has pointed to the Alemany loss as a turning point in his team's season.

"We were hoping to get another chance to play Alemany," he said after Tuesday night's regional semifinal victory over Morningside. "But [a rematch] wasn't even spoken about until today."

Said Hearlihy: "We're excited to be playing them too. How can we not be? We're in a regional final."

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SOUTHERN REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

* WHO: Alemany (26-6) vs. Harvard-Westlake (28-5)

* WHAT: Division III championship game of the state basketball tournament's Southern Regional. Winner advances to state final March 21 at 1:15 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento against Northern Regional champion.

* WHEN: Today, 6 p.m.

* WHERE: The Pyramid at Long Beach State

* DIRECTIONS: 405 South to Bellflower Blvd. South on Bellflower to Atherton St. East on Atherton. Pyramid is visible from street.

* TICKETS: $7 for adults; $4 for students and children under 12.

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ALEMANY (26-6)

Roster

*--*

No. Player, Yr. Pos. 3 Nyasha Bralock, Fr. F 10 Debbie Borra, Jr. G 11 Nicole Klosterman, Jr. F 12 Kelli Kobayashi, Sr. G 14 Kate Beckler, So. G 15 Amy Lowe, So. G 20 Alma Sandoval, So. G 23 Julie Mullins, So. G 33 Monica Brown, Sr. C 34 Karina Siam, Fr. F/C 42 Danielle Messiha, Jr. C 54 Anna Karas, Jr. C/F

*--*

Coach: Melissa Hearlihy

Assistants: Tim Taufaasau, Dr. Stewart Balikov

Season Review

76 Bell-Jeff 29

68 Santa Clara 40

59 Newbury Park 43

66 Ventura 69

60 Hart 64

71 Camarillo 29

56 Grant 50

70 St. Lucy's 76 (2OT)

64 Simi Valley 60

79 St. Monica 51

60 Crossroads 52

77 Dorsey 71

63 Royal 65

92 Notre Dame 52

75 Chaminade 35

59 Artesia 41

45 Harvard-Westlake 59

53 Flint. Scrd Hrt 34

55 Ayala 61

61 Louisville 40

81 Notre Dame 55

79 Bishop Montgomery 48

84 Chaminade 29

73 Harvard-Westlake 53

84 Flint. Scrd Hrt 36

58 Louisville 36

Southern Section Playoffs

92 South Hills 27

81 Barstow 65

69 Pomona 58

62 La Puente 39

State Playoffs

87 Bakersfield Shafter 59

70 Bakersfield Wasco 51

*

HARVARD-WESTLAKE (28-5)

Roster

*--*

No. Player, Yr. Pos. 3 Veronica Brooks, Fr. G 10 Joyce Minikami, Jr. G 11 Alex Pracher, Jr. F 12 Natasha Case, Fr. G 13 Carissa Abbott, Sr. F/C 14 Michelle Ghodsian, Jr. F 20 Tammy Ma, Sr. G 21 Corrie Roberts, Sr. G 22 L'Tanya Robnett, So. F 23 Katie Trenholme, So. F 24 Brooke Porter, So. G 25 Erin Stepheson, Fr. G 31 Rebecca Aganofir, So. F 32 Omelogo Udeze, Jr. F/C 33 Rolake Bamgbose, So. C

*--*

Coach: Brian Taylor

Assistants: Michael Flot, Joe Matthews, Christy McSweeney

Season Review

86 Westchester 21

69 Hawthorne 27

62 Palisades 49

73 Brentwood 40

56 North Hollywood 60 (OT)

65 Los Angeles 45

76 Stockdale 58

57 Arroyo Grande 53

59 North Torrance 32

58 Rincon Valley 36

50 J.W. North 60

76 San Dimas 42

55 Bishop Amat 49

43 Lynwood 53

49 Morningside 54

57 Los Altos 42

66 Louisville 33

67 Notre Dame 34

59 Alemany 45

74 Chaminade 30

77 Flint. Scrd Hrt 37

50 Louisville 46

70 Notre Dame 55

53 Alemany 73

67 Crenshaw 61

79 Chaminade 23

57 Flint. Scrd Hrt 20

Southern Section Playoffs

82 San Marino 26

75 Ganesha 49

75 Nordhoff 64

45 Morningside 41

State Playoffs

83 Univ./San Diego 53

61 Morningside 53

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REMATCH RECAP

Harvard-Westlake 59, Alemany 45

Corrie Roberts, suffering from stomach flu and pulled from the starting lineup because she missed three practices to attend a class trip, scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half to break the game open.

"You've got to love that kid," Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy said of Roberts, who made seven of nine shots. "She just plays hard."

The game was a disaster for Alemany, which trailed by as many as 20 points and shot only 24% (14 for 48).

Guards Kate Beckler and Kelli Kobayashi, who entered the game averaging more than 34 points between them, combined for only 17 against the Wolverines and made four of 35 shots.

Harvard-Westlake shot 43% (26 for 60) from the field and outrebounded the Indians, 43-27.

Junior forward Omelogo Udeze had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines, and sophomore forward L'Tanya Robnett added 11 points.

*

Alemany 73, Harvard-Westlake 53

Embarrassed by their poor performance in the first meeting, Kobayashi and Beckler took care of the Wolverines in the rematch.

"We wanted to show everybody that we're better than the way we played the first time," said Kobayashi, who made all six of her three-point shots and scored 27 points.

Beckler connected for three three-pointers and scored 29 points in a victory that ultimately enabled Alemany to tie the Wolverines for the league title.

Robnett scored 19 points and Rolake Bamgbose added 14 for the Wolverines. Udeze and sophomore guard Brooke Porter, two of Harvard-Westlake's best players, were shut out.

"I believe nerves had a lot to do with it," Harvard-Westlake Coach Brian Taylor said afterward. "We're still young, but how much longer can we use that as an excuse?"

The game served as a wake-up call for the Wolverines, who have since won nine consecutive games, including the Southern Section Division III-A final.

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