Not much has changed with the girls basketball program at Muir High School during the last three years.
Not on the surface, anyway.
The Mustangs are still a CIF powerhouse, they still have the imposing presence of the Jordan twins, 6-3 Pauline and 6-2 Geannine, on their front line, and their losses are still about as rare as a summer rainstorm in Los Angeles.
There is one recognizable difference, though.
The Mustangs are receiving more recognition.
Not that winning 50 of 53 games over the last two years went unnoticed. The Mustangs were listed near the top of the CIF Southern Section and state rankings both seasons.
But Muir had to take a back seat to perennial powerhouses Buena in 1984 and Compton in 1985.
This season, the final year of the Jordan sisters at Muir, the Mustangs have finally risen to national prominence.
With an 18-0 record against some of the top teams in the nation, Muir is ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports News of San Jose and No. 2 in the nation behind Woodson High of Washington, D. C., by USA Today.
And Coach Archie Newton thinks his team has a legitimate claim to the No. 1 position since it easily defeated two rated teams--Point Loma of San Diego and Christ the King of New York City--in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions in December.
"We opened the Santa Barbara tournament with an easy win over Chino, which was ranked No. 1 in their division," Newton said. "Then we came back the next night against Point Loma, which was ranked No. 1 in the state (then ranked No. 2 nationally by USA Today) and had a 63-game winning streak, and we beat them convincingly by 19 points. Then we came back in the final and beat Christ the King (then ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today) by 9 points."
Proud of Tough Schedule
"If they were rated No. 1 and 2 and we beat them, I think it's deserving for us to be No. 1, especially since at the time Woodson had played only four games. I think some consideration has to be given to strength of schedule. We have played and beaten every tough team in Southern California with the exception of Buena, and we beat them in the summer."
Muir could vault into the top spot by next week if Christ the King defeats Woodson this week.
But whether the Mustangs are ranked No. 1 or 2, they can certainly certify that they are perched in the high-rent district of the national girls basketball scene.
It does not take Newton long to figure out why. It starts with the Jordan sisters, who have led the Mustangs to an 88-5 record in four years as starters. The twins are leading Muir in scoring and rebounding. Pauline scored a career high 45 points and had 19 rebounds in Muir's 88-46 victory over Hoover last week.
Praise for Twins
"Much of the success has to do with the twins," Newton said. "They're seniors now and they're heavily recruited and they could easily have an attitude problem. But they don't. They're out there every day in practice and games setting examples and working hard.
"It's very difficult to imagine life around here without the twins. I think they are responsible for our success the last four years. I'm going to do my best to retire their uniforms after this year. I can't imagine anyone who would want the pressure of wearing them."
Of course, the Mustangs had the Jordan sisters the last two seasons but had to settle for second best in the CIF 4-A Division both years.
Newton, who has coached the Mustangs the last two years and was an assistant the year before that, said the difference may be the supporting cast that includes 6-3 sophomore forward Tasha Bradley, 5-10 senior swing player Kelly Jones, 5-10 sophomore guard Angie Grant and 5-4 senior guard Jami Edwards.
With Bradley in the starting lineup, Muir has a front line that is taller than many top college teams.
Developed 'Mental Maturity'
"I feel that this is the best team we've ever had here," Newton said. "The twins are better, Tasha Bradley has improved and Angie Grant gives us the speed we didn't have a year ago."
"For most of us there has been a mental maturity that we've developed over the last two years," Jones said. "I had to mature, Tasha had to mature and we've all come along in terms of our mental approach toward the game."
More than that, Pauline Jordan says that this year's team is the most close-knit squad she has played for at Muir. On a typical day, players can be seen socializing on campus or helping each other with class work. The friendship doesn't stop once practice is over.
"This is the closest team we've ever had and that really makes a difference," Pauline Jordan said. "The last two teams had a few differences of opinion off the court. But this year we're very close on and off the court."
"We get along so well together," Geannine Jordan said. "Even when we get into an argument, we always make up by the next day. It (the closeness) helps because we're able to push each other more. When we're down about something, we can always pick each other up."
Like 'a Whole Family'