SAN DIEGO — While NBA players fight the stigma of their games being decided in the final two minutes, Point Loma High School girls' basketball players readily admit their games are decided in the first two minutes.
"I'd say that by about three minutes into the game," said junior guard Liza Carrillo, "I usually know we have it."
On many occasions, the Pointers and their opponents seem to know the outcome before the center jump.
"Before the game," Carrillo said, "players on the other team will joke and say don't kill us or don't beat us by too much."
Point Loma (5-0) has defeated Torrey Pines, 92-7; Clairemont, 104-29; Fallbrook, 88-25; Crawford, 99-12; and Poway, 76-25 this season to keep extend its winning streak to 62.
The Pointers, coming off 29-0 and 28-0 seasons, have the longest winning streak in the history of San Diego County boys' or girls' high school basketball.
Point Loma won the San Diego Section 2-A championship and State Division II title in 1983-1984 and the San Diego Section 3-A title and State Division I title last season.
Point Loma has become so much better than its opponents that its practices are more competitive than its games.
"When all of us are into it, practices are tougher," forward Terri Mann said. "Some teams we play against can't even make layups. We look at them warm up and say this will be another win."
It is almost difficult for Mann to fathom a player not being able to make a layup. After all, she sinks turnaround jumpers from the corners while being triple-teamed and makes twisting reverse layups in traffic.
Playing with a sprained left ankle that was taped, Mann, a 6-foot 2-inch junior, had a career-high 44 points and 30 rebounds against Fallbrook. Last year, she averaged 25.3 points and set a Section season rebounding record with 538.
It may come as no surprise that Mann looks forward to the challenge of playing pickup games against men at the Ocean Beach recreation center and at Municipal Gym in Balboa Park.
"I like playing against men more," Mann said. "That's the only way you get better. Some guys give me a hard time. They say I should be at home cooking, and I tell them they should be working and earning money."
Without boasting, Mann says that Tina Hutchinson, a former San Diego State All-America, is the only woman she has played against who is as good as she is.
"We played against each other this past summer," Mann said, "and it was fun. She can out-jump me. We were stopping each other's shots. I blocked her shot twice and was all happy."
Keeping Mann and her talented teammates motivated and making the games and practices interesting is a challenge for Coach Lee Trepanier.
"It is hard when your team is that much better than other teams," Trepanier said. "Sometimes during a one-sided game, I will tell the players to work on their outside shooting. No shot goes inside. We work on defense. Specifically, we'll try not to allow passes to the wing. Also, I might say to Terri, 'How many rebounds can you get,' and I'll ask Chanelle (McCoy) how many assists she can get."
During his team's first two games this season, Trepanier played his seniors as one unit and his underclassmen as another. It wasn't until the game against Fallbrook that he played his starting team together.
"No doubt that my second group is not a bad group," Trepanier said.
How has this former engineer who loves teaching math and working with kids built a powerhouse at Point Loma?
Four starters graduated from his 1983-84 championship team and the '84-85 team--made up of all underclassmen--went undefeated. So much for a transition.
Starting center Jessica Benton's family moved from Sacramento to Point Loma. Suddenly, the Pointers had a 6-4 player to replace graduating center Suzanne Eagye, the 1984 San Diego Section Player of the Year. Starting point guard Chanelle McCoy transferred from Lincoln High to Point Loma.
"Sure, there is some luck," Trepanier said. "But basically, my team is better because they've worked. We are year-round players, and when you are year-round players, you get better."
Since coming to Point Loma, the longest Mann has gone without shooting a basketball is a week. That was when the Ocean Beach recreation center was closed last summer.
Trepanier said all his players attended at least three basketball camps last summer. Five of his players went to the prestigious Blue Star camp at Cal Poly Pamona. Actually, the traveling Pointers have more than 62 consecutive victories, counting their summer performances.
Point Loma won six straight games to capture a 16-team tournament in South Lake Tahoe last summer. They averaged 60 points and gave up 12 per game.
Summer tournaments are followed by fall pickup games which are followed by winter practices.