Aliso Niguel

Coach: Kristen Okura

1998-99 record: 5-21

League record: 2-8


It is difficult to say that Aliso Niguel will be improved this year. The Wolverines have no returning starters from a team that struggled in the Pacific Coast League. Then again, maybe that’s a good thing; perhaps it allows second-year Coach Kristen Okura to instill a new sense of direction in her players. Aliso Niguel will need stellar contributions from its three senior returners--forward Nikia Hastie (5-9), center Mary Griffin (6-0) and guard Tracey Umemoto (5-3)--to increase last season’s victory total. Newcomer Julia Pederson (Fr., 5-7) should be a key addition.


Coach: Dennis Hurley

1998-99 record: 16-11


League record: 5-5

Irvine’s first-year coach, Dennis Hurley, and assistant Joni Colburn are trading places with a similar goal in mind. Hurley was Colburn’s assistant two years ago as the duo led the Vaqueros to a successful season. This time around, Irvine returns four starters and is poised to make some noise in the Orange County top 10 poll. Forwards Jody Carlson (Jr., 5-11, 13.6 points) and Kristin Thawley (Soph., 6-0, 9.3 points) provide the Vaqueros with a solid attack inside the post, while guards Staci Morita (Jr., 5-7, 1.8 assists) and Ali Grechko (Jr., 5-7, 7.3 points) lead a balanced backcourt. If Irvine survives its grueling nonleague schedule, the Vaqueros have an excellent shot at the league title.

Laguna Hills

Coach: Jim Martin

1998-99 record: 18-8

League record: 9-1

Laguna Hills won the Pacific Coast League in Jim Martin’s first season as coach, but the Hawks now are playing in the daunting Sea View League and may have only two returning starters at full strength. First-team All-PCL forward Anne Bubriski (Sr., 6-0, 14.1 points) is recovering from an intestinal illness that could result in her playing gingerly. That leaves forward Shannon Owens (Sr., 5-8, 14.7 points) and guard Megan Aaker (Soph., 5-9) to lead the charge. Both players attained their share of accolades last year. Owens was the league’s most valuable player and a second-team All-Division II-AA selection, while Aaker was first-team all-league. Laguna Hills also has a host of returning players and promising newcomers, but Martin said rebounding and post defense will pose a challenge.

Newport Harbor


Coach: Gregg Savage

1998-99 record: 15-13

League record: 3-7

Second-year Coach Gregg Savage expects this to be a rebuilding season for Newport Harbor, but the Sailors could at least play the role of spoiler in league. Newport Harbor returns no starters but does bring back three contributors: forward Evita Castillo (Soph., 5-9,) and guards Lindsay Moore (Sr., 5-4) and Nicole Ashton (Sr., 5-5). The Sailors also get back forward Molly Weedn (Jr., 5-9), who sat out last season with an injury.


Coach: Eric Bangs

1998-99 record: 17-12

League record: 5-5


Viewed by several coaches as Irvine’s top league competitor, Woodbridge should have little difficulty improving on last year’s middle-of-the-pack finish. The Warriors will be a decidedly different team despite returning three starters. Eric Bangs, back with the Warriors for his second season following a three-year hiatus, has promoted three junior varsity players and has brought in two exciting freshmen. Natalie Quinn, a senior guard who began at Woodbridge but transferred to Marina last season, is back. The Warriors’ mainstays will be forwards Bryn Riley (Sr., 5-11), a first-team all-leaguer, and Alia Stewart (Soph., 5-11) and guard Kathryn Geneau (Soph., 5-9). If all goes as planned, Bangs (14th year, 313-81) should have his team advancing further than the first round of the playoffs (where it lost in 1998-99) with an eye on challenging for a section title in 2001.