Did you know that Huntington Beach--perpetually pesky and small--is now pesky and tall? Or that the Empire League is wide open, but the Serra League isn’t, even though three teams could end up in the top 10? Or the county scoring leader will again come from El Toro?
Did you know that all-county basketball player Kristen Mann of Foothill is also an all-county softball player? Or that if you’re going to beat Aliso Niguel, you need to do it now, before its feeder system kicks in? Or that Rosary’s Maggie Barnett is about the hardest-working--and maybe the most entertaining--player in the county?
Did you know that Troy Coach Kevin Kiernan got married over the weekend to his assistant coach? Or that Mater Dei is playing a schedule that would make most coaches cringe?
This isn’t everything one needs to know about the 1999-2000 girls’ basketball season, but it’s a decent start.
ONE SURE THING
Brea Olinda will win the Orange League title for the 18th consecutive season.
TWO TERRIFIC TOURNAMENTS
* The Ladycat Classic, Brea Olinda High, Dec. 6-11. This 16-team tournament has outstanding matchups--barring upsets. Harbor City Narbonne (ranked No. 1 nationally by one publication) plays Palos Verdes Peninsula (Southern Section Division I-AA champion, state finalist) in the second round. Another second-round game pits Foothill (Southern Section II-AA finalist) against Hanford (ranked No. 10 in the West).
On the other side of the bracket, there’s no guarantee Brea will reach the final. The Ladycats (Division II state champions) will likely face Moreno Valley (section I-A champion) in the semifinals.
* Orange County Championship, Edison High, Dec. 27-30. With a pool-play format, this tournament will feature great county games every night. Seven of the county’s top eight teams are participating, and all eight are defending league champions. In one pool: Troy, Edison, San Clemente and Rosary. In the other, Mater Dei, Foothill, El Toro and Laguna Hills.
THREE IMPACT FRESHMEN
* Jessica Voisard and Hallie Steube, Capistrano Valley. Two of five “clones” who fit into the Cougars’ aggressive defensive scheme, forwards Voisard (5-11) and Steube (5-10) have all the raw materials a coach could want.
* Amanda Livingston, Troy. The second-quickest player on the team, Livingston (6-1) will probably have as much impact on Troy’s inside game as Veronica Johns-Richardson did on Troy’s guard play when she was a freshman.
FOUR NOTABLE INJURIES
* Chelsea Trotter, Brea. The Times’ Orange County player of the year, Trotter (Sr., 6-3) suffered her second torn anterior cruciate ligament during the Southern Regional semifinal last season. Her recovery has been better than normal, and if there are no recurring problems, she and Brea remain a dominant force.
* Amy Shaw, El Toro. The first player off the bench last season, she tore her ACL in the section semifinals and probably won’t be cleared to play until late December. Unlike most of her teammates, Shaw had big-game experience, and is the second-most proven scorer in the lineup behind Mendiola.
* Anne Bubriski, Laguna Hills. An intestinal malady could impair the contribution of Bubriski (Sr., 6-1). Without her, the Hawks have matchup problems inside. If she plays, and is close to last season’s form (14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds), Laguna Hills has legitimate league title hopes.
* Maggie Barnett, Rosary. All-county guard had arthroscopic knee surgery in early August to remove cartilage, hopes to be 100% within three weeks. Missed about 75 games during spring, summer and fall leagues, so isn’t as game sharp as she would like.
FIVE BIG TRANSFERS
* Michelle Pietka, Valencia via Troy via Brea. Pietka started at Brea, but after going to Troy last season, she injured her knee and played only four minutes in a first-round playoff game. Recovered, she complements Monika Jackley, providing the Tigers with two solid players.
* Nicki Howard, Capistrano Valley via Dana Hills. An All-South Coast League player last season, she will provide maturity on a young team that will probably score an upset or two and determine who wins the league title.
* Kim and Nicole Gerber, El Dorado via Canyon. The sophomore twins (both 5-9) got a lot of experience during Canyon’s run to the section semifinals. Because they’re quick and shoot well, they provide the Golden Hawks with some nice options.
* Amy Sanders, Huntington Beach via Mater Dei. Sanders (5-10), a sophomore guard, was Mater Dei’s first player off the bench and she should make a huge contribution to the Oilers’ success.
SIX PLAYERS TO WATCH
* Kelsey Ball, Huntington Beach. Averaged only 9.2 points, but Ball (Soph., 6-0) had a broken thumb at the beginning of the season. She came on strong at the end, averaging 17.9 points and 9.7 rebounds the last eight games, including a nonleague game against Mater Dei. She moves well, gets in the air quickly and has nice touch.
* Whitney Jones, San Clemente. Provided a spark to the Tritons last season, often off the bench, as a defensive whiz and a gritty offensive performer. This season, Jones (Sr., 5-10) starts and gets a chance to shine even more.
* Kristian Kirkpatrick, Mater Dei. Quietly improved as the season progressed and finished with a 10-point average. With teams focusing on Lindsay Pavlik and Maile Shimoda, Kirkpatrick can be an even bigger factor.
* Alicia Komaki, Troy. The Warriors are centered on their defense and Johns-Richardson, but Komaki, a sophomore guard, was third in the county in three-point accuracy (45.7%). Her long-range threat opens the middle for the aggressive Warriors.
* Carrie Twaddell, El Toro. The Chargers finally have a strong presence inside, where they have been overmatched previously. With the 6-3 Twaddell under the basket, it should help free up the county’s leading scorer, guard Giuliana Mendiola.
* Nancy Hatsushi, Costa Mesa. She was stellar last season as a sophomore, averaging 7.2 assists for the Mustangs, and returns this season with teammates Jenny Earnest and Autumn Smith another year better.