Narbonne Can State Case as Nation's Best

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Harbor City Narbonne went undefeated last season and finished with recognition by several national polls as the top-ranked team in the country.

The ride was not as smooth this season for the Lady Gauchos, but they could still be recognized as mythical national champions if they repeat as state titlists Saturday at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

Narbonne and Torrance Bishop Montgomery are trying to win their second consecutive state titles in divisions I and III, respectively.

Here is a look at each of the championship games:

DIVISION I

* HARBOR CITY NARBONNE (27-3) vs. BERKELEY (27-5), Saturday at 6 p.m.: This is the third time in four years that these schools have met in the final. Narbonne defeated Berkeley in 1998, but was forced to vacate the championship because of recruiting violations. Last season, Narbonne defeated the Yellowjackets, 64-52, to complete a 34-0 season. Narbonne is led by Tennessee-bound senior guard Loree Moore, who virtually took over last year's final and led Narbonne to the title. Narbonne is also big and skilled in the frontcourt with 6-footers Amber Pruitt, Wilnett Crockett and Jamie Funn. Lisa Willis is outstanding from the perimeter and freshman Camille Lenoir is already an impact player. Narbonne lost its opener against Lynwood and stumbled at Ventura Buena, but the Lady Gauchos tore through the Southern California regional and avenged its loss to Lynwood with a 67-41 victory in the final. Berkeley defeated Oakland, 55-40, in its regional final at Arco Arena. Senior guard Robin Roberson had 14 points, and senior forward Gelater Fullwood and junior forward Natasha Bailey each had 12. However, the Yellowjackets made only 15 of 60 field-goal attempts. A shooting performance like that against Narbonne means certain defeat.

DIVISION II

* HANFORD (30-2) vs. PLEASANTON AMADOR VALLEY (27-3), Friday at 4 p.m.: Hanford defeated Lakewood Artesia to advance to its first state championship game. Hanford is led by 6-5 center Shawntinice Polk and 6-1 guard Amy Parrish. Amador Valley is in the final for the third consecutive year. The Dons lost to Brea Olinda in 1999 and 2000. Senior guard Mia Fisher leads Amador Valley.

DIVISION III

* TORRANCE BISHOP MONTGOMERY (28-6) vs. SAN FRANCISCO SACRED HEART CATHERDRAL (28-2), Saturday at 1 p.m.--Bishop Montgomery won the state title last season and looked like it might have the talent to win four in a row. But before this season, center Lauren Ervin and guard Brittney Thomas transferred to Artesia, seemingly leaving Bishop Montgomery without enough to return to the state final. The Knights, however, have rallied behind sophomore guard Noelle Quinn, who scored 20 points in a 60-51 regional final victory over Fullerton Rosary. Bishop Montgomery showed its mettle in that game, making 18 of 21 free throws, including 14 of 16 in the fourth quarter. Sacred Heart is led by Tessa Moon and Tori Russell, who scored 20 and and 10 points, respectively, in a 47-41 regional final victory over Martinez Alhambra.

DIVISION IV

* LA JOLLA BISHOP'S (24-6) vs. STOCKTON ST. MARY'S (35-1), Saturday at 9:30 a.m.--Center Lindsay Killus made 10 of 12 shots and scored 24 points in Bishop's easy victory over Oak Park in the regional final. The Knights also feature senior guards Brianna and Mallone Winn. Defending state champion St. Mary's, which defeated Playa del Rey St. Bernard in last year's final, is led by senior guard Michelle Cozad, who scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds in a regional final victory over Kentfield Marin Catholic.

DIVISION V

* LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (28-5) vs. SAN LORENZO REDWOOD CHRISTIAN (24-6), Friday at 2 p.m.--Guard Candice Wiggins, the daughter of former major league baseball player Alan Wiggins, scored 32 points and June Brubaker made six three-pointers in Country Day's regional final victory over San Luis Obispo Mission Prep. Defending state champion Redwood Christian is led by senior guard Leah Thornton, who scored 24 points in the regional final against Ripon Christian.

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