Schools Know What's at Stake in State Finals

From Staff Reports

Brea Olinda will try to win a record sixth title, Playa del Rey St. Bernard its third title in six years and Harbor City Narbonne and Mission Hills Alemany are intent on bringing home championships in their first appearance in the finals when the girls' basketball state championship games are played Friday and Saturday in Sacramento.

Last year, Southland teams won two of the five divisions.

Here is a division-by-division look at this year's championship games at Arco Arena:

DIVISION I--Harbor City Narbonne (28-4) vs. Berkeley (30-3), Saturday: Narbonne has already reached several milestones by winning its first City Section 4-A and Southern California Regional championships. But the Lady Gauchos, with only one senior on the roster, are primed to take the next step.

Narbonne defeated Palos Verdes Peninsula, 58-41, to advance to the final behind the play of sophomore forward Ebony Hoffman, junior forward Amber White and junior guard Jessica Cheeks.

Narbonne likes to fastbreak and press, but the Lady Gauchos are also capable of playing the half-court game. Narbonne's only loss on the court was a 58-57 defeat by Rancho Buena Vista. The Lady Gauchos forfeited three games for using an ineligible player.

Berkeley, the defending Division I champion, is shooting for its third state title. The Yellowjackets defeated San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 62-44 in the Northern California regional final and are led by sophomore Aisha Hollans.

DIVISION II--Brea Olinda (32-1) vs. Redding Shasta (28-2), Friday: Chelsea Trotter averages 16.7 points, Erin Kelly 13.5 and Lindsey Davidson 13.3 for the five-time state-champion Ladycats, who are making their first appearance in the finals since 1994. Brea Olinda is coming off a 64-52 regional final victory over Fresno Edison.

Shasta is making its first state final appearance after defeating Fair Oaks Del Campo, 51-49. The Wolves are led by forward Sephora Scoubes, who averages 23.9 points a game. Lydia Reiner is an excellent point guard.

DIVISION III--Alemany (27-6) vs. San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral (21-10), Saturday: Each team is making its first appearance in a state final.

Alemany defeated Mission League rival North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, 50-45, for the regional championship and has won 14 consecutive games.

Senior Kelli Kobayashi and sophomore Kate Beckler, both All-Southern Section guards, combine to average 38 points per game.

Sacred Heart Cathedral advanced by defeating defending Northern California regional champion Lafayette Acalanes, 55-50, in overtime. The Fightin' Irish suit up only eight players, including six freshmen, but rely on senior Sarah Richen, who averages 20 points and 12 rebounds.

DIVISION IV--Playa del Rey St. Bernard (29-4) vs. Colfax (28-7), Friday: St. Bernard won consecutive titles in 1993 and '94 and lost in the final last year to Moraga Campolindo. The Vikings are back in the championship game after defeating Corcoran, 72-52. Sophomore guard Shannon Howell scored 26 points and senior guard Tracee Lewis had 22 in the victory.

Colfax is making its first appearance in the final after defeating Kernfield Marin Catholic, 49-32.

DIVISION V--San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (28-3) vs. Alturas Modoc (28-1), Saturday: Mission Prep advanced to its second championship game appearance with a 74-50 victory over Palos Verdes Chadwick.

The Royals, who lost in the 1996 state final to Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, are led by guard Ashley Raasch, who scored 17 points in the regional championship game, and forward Paige Billingsley, who had 16 points, and center Ann Mott, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Modoc defeated Los Altos Pinewood, 51-42, in the Northern California regional final.

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