Girls' Basketball: CdM heads into uncharted territory

Corona del Mar High girls' basketball coach Mark Decker plans to have players from the 1982-83 CIF championship team in attendance Wednesday night, when the Sea Kings open up the CIF State Southern California Regional Division III playoffs at home.

Decker said that Kim Valentine-Poska, who still lives in Newport Beach, will be in the house. She was a junior guard on the '83 team and came off the bench. Decker said he expects at least one other player from that team, the only CIF championship team in program history, to attend.

That '83 team didn't have a chance to advance to the state playoffs, though. One history-making group of players will be able to watch another one on the court.

CdM's current squad will be making the program's first appearance in the state playoffs when the No. 6 Sea Kings play host to No. 11 Los Angeles Garfield on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Sea Kings' players initially thought their season was over after losing in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals to Lake Elsinore Lakeside on March 1. Instead, CdM was selected for the state playoffs on Sunday night, and given a home game to boot.

"We're definitely excited," Decker said. "It feels like new life. I think everybody is just excited to keep playing."

Corona del Mar (21-9) is led in scoring by sophomore post players Natalia Bruening and Krista Anderson. But the Sea Kings feature an able cast of other top contributors, including senior guard Keaton Gaughan, junior forward Maria King, sophomore point guard Kelly Tam and senior guards Kate Thompson and Chanel Wosoughkia.

Garfield (23-12) is from the Los Angeles City Section. The Bulldogs were co-champions of the Eastern League. They also were the top seeds in City Section Division 3, and advanced to the title game before they were upset by No. 2-seeded Eagle Rock, 60-51, on March 8. Eagle Rock senior guard Judith Espinoza scored a career-high 39 points.

Garfield's senior team captain, Karla Bernal, said in a Twitter message that this is also Garfield's first time advancing to the state tournament in program history. Bernal said that Monica Garcia, a sophomore, is the Bulldogs' leading scorer.

Decker said that he has watched some film on Garfield.

"They're very aggressive," Decker said. "Full-court press all over the place, a lot of pressure, a lot of trapping. That's the game that we expect."

The winner of the CdM-Garfield game will play the winner of the No. 3 Santa Margarita-No.14 El Centro Central game in the regional quarterfinals Saturday at 6 p.m.

CIF Southern Section Division 3AA champion Santa Barbara and runner-up Lakeside are the top two seeds in the Southern California Division III regional.

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