Three sophomores and four juniors are on The Times' All-Southeast girls basketball team, a reflection of the state of a sport that has come a long way in a short time.
"I've noticed this year that there seems to be a lot of real good young girls," said Steve Terry, who has been the girls coach at Schurr High School since 1979.
"You go back to '79 and the really top-notch players would be seniors, girls who had to develop their skills during high school," Terry said.
Now those skills are being developed before the players reach high school at summer camps and in summer leagues.
"There has been a big improvement in the fundamentals of freshmen and sophomores," Terry said.
"It used to be if you were short you would dribble the ball and if you were tall you'd go stand under the basket. Now the tall girls can handle the ball.
"And it's rather unnerving to see girls at 5-10 play real tough one-on-one defense. That wouldn't have happened five years ago."
Besides summer experience, Terry said better coaching and more publicity have been factors in developing higher-quality players at younger ages.
And high-profile college players such as USC All-American Cheryl Miller have made an impact.
"Girls see her and say, 'Maybe I'd like to be a basketball player,' " Terry said. "So there are just a lot more players trying out."
The Times' All-Southeast team is one of nine from Times circulation areas that will be honored at The Times' annual prep basketball awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Harry Chandler Auditorium of the Times Mirror Building in downtown Los Angeles.
Player of the year and coach of the year will be announced during the ceremony. Cal State Long Beach Coach Joan Bonvicini is scheduled to be the guest speaker.
The 10 selections were made by a vote of coaches and sportswriters:
Maribel Arenas, Montebello--"Very intense" was Coach Jeffrey Schwartz's description of Arenas, a 5-10 1/2 junior who could play center or on the wing.
An outstanding shooter, she averaged 19.5 points a game for the Oilers, who won 23 of 26 games. Arenas also had 12.5 rebounds a game and excelled on defense.
She has a 4.0 grade point average.
Trish Gibson, La Mirada--Opposing coaches, said La Mirada Coach Lyle Lewinson, were amazed when they found that Gibson, an All-San Gabriel Valley League performer, was just a sophomore.
"They thought she was a senior," said Lewinson. "But then, she played like one."
A 6-2 center, Gibson averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds a game and shot 49% from the field.
Julie King, Gahr--A 5-8 junior guard, King averaged 20 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds a game and led the Gladiators to the final four in the 4-A playoffs.
"She's probably the finest shooter in CIF," said her coach, Thomas Pryor. King shot 53% from the field and 80% from the foul line.
Monica Navarro, St. Matthias--Because she was a one-woman show, opponents consistently double- and triple-teamed Navarro, but she still averaged 25.2 points and 19 rebounds a game. In one game she scored 40 of her team's 51 points.
A 6-foot senior, she played forward, center and even brought the ball up the floor when necessary. Navarro developed as a player when her brother Frank, the St. Matthias coach, started taking her to summer camps.
Donna Pollema, Valley Christian--A quiet, 6-4 sophomore forward, Pollema averaged 11 points and 12 rebounds for the 1-A Southern Section champions and was an intimidator on defense.
"She understands the game," Valley Christian Coach Eleanor Dykstra said of Pollema, who started as a freshman.
Shelley Schack, Artesia--A big factor in Artesia's 18-6 season, Shack averaged 18.2 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.
"She's very coachable and sets a good example for the other players," Coach Terry Goddard said of the quick, 5-8 junior guard.
Vera Sunada, Schurr--A repeater on the All-Southeast team, Sunada had a great senior season, averaging 17 points, 5 assists and 4 steals.
Barely 5 feet tall, she makes up for her lack of size with great quickness and aggressiveness. "She's just a dynamo," said Schurr Coach Steve Terry.
Cindy Vyskocil, Whittier Christian--A 6-1 1/2 sophomore center, Vyskocil led the Olympic League in scoring with a 25.0 average and also had 11.7 rebounds a game.
"She's committed to the sport, she wants to excel," said her coach, Kathy Grant.
Sharon Wada, La Mirada--An all-around point guard, Wada averaged 10 points, 4 assists and 4 steals.
"She's unselfish on the court and understands her role as team leader," Coach Lyle Lewinson said of the 5-5 junior, who was an All-Suburban League selection.
Julie Yoshitake, Montebello--"She's the best ball-handling guard I've seen in a long time," Montebello Coach Jeffrey Schwartz said of Yoshitake, a 5-6 senior. "She has a great knack of getting the ball to a person at the right time."
Yoshitake averaged 6 assists a game to go with 13.5 points.
Southeast All-Star Girls Team
Scoring Name, school Year Height Average Maribel Arenas, Montebello Junior 5-10 19.5 Trish Gibson, La Mirada Soph. 6-2 17.0 Julie King, Gahr Junior 5-8 20.0 Monica Navarro, St. Matthias Senior 6-0 25.2 Donna Pollema, Valley Christian Soph. 6-4 11.0 Shelley Schack, Artesia Junior 5-8 18.2 Vera Sunada, Schurr Senior 5-0 17.0 Cindy Vyskocil, Whittier Christian Soph. 6-1 25.0 Sharon Wada, La Mirada Junior 5-5 10.0 Julie Yoshitake, Montebello Senior 5-6 13.5