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EMPIRE LEAGUE

Century

Coach: Jeff Watts

1998-99 record: 22-4

League record: 10-0

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With the graduation of Aprile Powell, a three-time Times All-Orange County second-team selection, Coach Jeff Watts (10th year, 138-86) redirects his team’s focus to the outside. All-league guards Adriana Mendez and Ana Villalovos averaged 6.5 and 4.8 assists, respectively, last season. Their quickness and court leadership alone will be enough to win games, but Century also has forwards Charlenda Van Buren (Jr., 5-8, 9.5 rebounds) and Elizabeth Mendoza (Jr., 5-8) back in the starting lineup. Even without Powell, Century will make a run at the league title.

Cypress

Coach: Doug Mitchell

1998-99 record: 15-11

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League record: 6-4

Fifth-year coach Doug Mitchell (52-51) has two all-leaguers among his three starters from last year’s third-place team. Guard Michelle Mitchell (Sr.) is a solid three-point threat and will be counted on for the bulk of the scoring. Junior guard Remy Hitomi, second team all-league as a sophomore, will run the point. Center Marissa Benavidez (6-0) gives the Centurions an inside presence to help open up the shooters. Five other letter-winners return, making this a deep Centurion squad, but with six sophomores, it is also a young squad.

El Dorado

Coach: Wayne Carlson

1998-99 record: 20-8

League record: 8-2

Junior forward Carly Wade (11 points, 9.5 rebounds), an all-league selection as a sophomore, had off-season knee surgery and is out until at least the middle of January. Without Wade, the Golden Hawks will rely on the quickness and court awareness of senior point guard Courtney Aberegg. Senior forward Kelly Ayer (5-10) averaged 5.1 rebounds last year and Corrine Barham, another 5-10 senior forward, averaged 2.3 rebounds. Both will have to pick up their games to alleviate the absence of Wade. Guards Elaine Mar, Melissa Jacob and Smadar Bezalel all got varsity experience last season and add quickness and depth. Twins Kim and Nicole Gerber (both 5-9), transfers from Canyon, will also help.

Katella

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Coach: Marshall Schuler

1998-99 record: 4-15

League record: 2-8

The Knights have 10 seniors on the roster and are loaded with experience for Schuler’s second season at the helm. Forwards Julie Hoces (5-6) and Nikki Kindstrand (5-6) and guard Jay Jefferson (5-4) were all starters last season, but the Knights’ top two scorers from last season--Lyndsey Schuler and Sheri Troge--graduated. Guard Courtney Stanford (5-7), a reserve last season, will help pick up the scoring and 6-foot freshman Kaylee Bar give Katella its first six-footer in six years, Schuler said.

Kennedy

Coach: Dave Jankowski

1998-99 record: 7-19

League record: 0-10

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Senior Lauren Shinto, who averaged eight points and five assists as a sophomore, is back after missing last season with a torn knee ligament. Jessalynn Calumpong, who ran the point in Shinto’s absence, returns along with Lesley Mason (5-5), Nicole Doi (5-6) and Jennifer Narita (5-0), but all are guards. Coach Dave Jankowski, in his second season, has only one player taller than 5-7, center Andria Banks (5-10).

Loara

Coach: Shelly Noble

1998-99 record: 13-14

League record: 4-6

Quickness and outside shooting are the strengths of the Saxons, who return only four players with varsity experience. Two of the returners--guards Sandra Sanchez and Vivi Mai--were starters for Coach Shelly Noble (fourth year, 41-38). Sanchez, a 5-6 guard, averaged 12 points last season. Mai, a 5-4 guard, averaged six points. Transfers Tracey Hall, from Mater Dei, and Crystal Bernal, from Orange, help with depth. Bernal, a 5-4 guard, was a second-team All-Century League selection last year. Forwards Ashley Jockheck (5-8) and Cheyanne Holton (5-9) are the other returning lettermen.


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