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Making a final impact

NORTHRIDGE -- Most all-star basketball games are about flaunting an

athlete’s abilities. And about showing off. And about everyone trying

to outshine each other.

Burbank High girls’ guard Christine Kepenekian is fine with other

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players trying to hog the spotlight. The senior would rather take the

less-traveled road.

Kepenekian out hustled and outworked everybody on the floor during

Saturday’s seventh annual Battle of the Valley All-Star game at Cal

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State Northridge.

When an offensive player got sluggish, Kepenekian made her pay.

When a defender didn’t feel like boxing out, the three-time Leader

All-Area selection did the dirty work that not many are willing to

do.

Kepenekian played alongside Bellarmine-Jefferson’s Jennae Peoples

and Burroughs’ Fabiola Zavala for the East All-Stars -- who were

coached by the Guards’ Bryan Camacho -- in their 78-68 victory.

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Kepenekian -- who said she’ll most likely attend L.A. Valley

College with Peoples -- scored 18 points, grabbed 14 rebounds,

including five on offense, and had a game-high six steals in 26

minutes.

Only Van Nuys Montclair Prep’s Eshaya Murphy, who is headed to

USC, put up better numbers. Murphy took 25 of her team’s 73 shots to

score a game-high 30 points en route to earning the East’s

player-of-the -game honor. “I think it was the small stuff I did

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[that made the difference],” Kepenekian said. “I tried to give it up,

get the fast break going, get the rebound, look up for an outlet. I

tried to do the small things.”

Familiar with Kepenekian and her skills, and aware of People’s

ability to impact a game, when Camacho saw his all-stars struggling,

he put them both back into the game 11:53 remaining in the second

half.

Peoples and Kepenekian entered the game and immediately made a

difference, as the East outscored the West by 14 during the final 11

minutes. Peoples, who only left the game for 26 seconds during that

span, finished with seven points and three steals in 21 minutes.

“As a competitor, once you’re on the court, your competitive side

takes over,” Camacho said. “You can’t change that.

“I felt comfortable putting [Kepenekian and Peoples] together

because they play so much together. Both of them are unselfish

players, and it makes it difficult for a defense to contain just one

of them.”

Peoples said the competition is what drove her.

“I’m a competitor,” she said. “Competition is what makes things

fun.”

Zavala had two points and one steal in nine minutes.

In the boys’ game, Burroughs’ Peter St. Hubert started for the

East team and wasn’t hesitant to take shots. St. Hubert, who played

only two minutes of the second half, was six of 10 from the field for

12 points in just 11 minutes.

He also grabbed five rebounds in the East’s 101-98 setback.


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