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COUNTDOWN TO THE CIF FINALS : Diane DeCree Is Last in Line, but Not Least : A Kennedy Heir by Special DeCree

March 13, 1986|JOHANNES TESSELAAR | Times Staff Writer

Craig Raub has had a few discussions with William and Ruthann DeCree lately.

"I've been talking to them about having a few more kids," said Raub, coach of the Kennedy High girls basketball team.

But Ruthann DeCree has a message for Raub. She's through having babies.

"Tell him to wait for my grandchildren," she said.

For nearly a decade, Raub has had a DeCree offspring in his lineup.

Toya DeCree played for the Kennedy varsity in 1979 and 1980. Fonda DeCree, The Times' Valley Player of the Year in 1984, was a member of three varsity teams.

Diane DeCree is the latest--and for a while, the last--of the DeCrees who have helped make Kennedy one of the powerhouses of girls basketball in the City Section.

Toya and Fonda both earned All-City honors twice. Their younger sister could very well better that accomplishment.

Diane was named All-City last season as a sophomore. The 6-0 junior is a good bet to repeat this season. And next year?

"The colleges are already going bonkers about her," Raub said.

Toya, a senior at U.S. International University, was recently named the most valuable player of the West Coast Athletic Conference after averaging 22.8 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Fonda, a sophomore, was a starter this season at Oregon State, averaging 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds.

As for college, Diane said, "I'm not really thinking about it now. I just want to think about Kennedy. I'm not at college yet. I'm here."

While Division I college ball can wait, DeCree said a Division I state championship is on her mind.

Kennedy won the City 4-A championship last week with a 61-52 win over Washington. The Golden Cougars play Point Loma of San Diego tonight in the second round of the Southern California regionals.

Should Kennedy win the regional at Granada Hills, it will play Saturday at the Sports Arena for the Southern California championship. A victory there sends the Golden Cougars to Oakland for the state final.

"We haven't really talked much about State," DeCree said. "But it would be nice to go to Oakland."

And no disaster should Kennedy not make it. The team's goal all year has been the City 4-A championship. Ever since their loss to Locke in last season's title game, the Golden Cougars have had redemption on their minds.

"It's been awesome," DeCree said. "It's really been fun since Friday."

DeCree, who operates as either a forward or big guard from the swing position, played a major factor in Kennedy's title season. She was the team's second-leading scorer, with 17.8 points a game, and the top rebounder with a 17.1 average.

In the championship game against Washington, DeCree had 15 rebounds, helping the Golden Cougars dominate the boards, 54-28. Kennedy's superior inside play was one of the main reasons Raub had his first title since 1981, when Fonda was a sophomore.

DeCree also had 17 points in the final, second to Stacy Parson's 23 points.

As a sophomore, DeCree averaged 20 points and 15.5 rebounds.

The drop in her scoring average is hardly a negative sign, according to Raub.

"Diane is a team player," he said. "Last year, she was the only scoring threat we had inside. This year, we had Shelley Mercer."

Mercer, a 5-11 senior center, averaged 11.3 points and 11.1 rebounds a game. With Mercer present in the middle, DeCree's assist average went from 1.9 last year to 3.8 this season.

DeCree's value to the Golden Cougars was never more evident than in the 60-53 win over Crenshaw in the semifinals. In her second game back since suffering an injury in early February, DeCree took charge.

She scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half and overtime to help Kennedy avoid an upset loss.

With 25 seconds left in regulation, DeCree hit a short jumper to send the game into overtime.

"I shot the ball with no form whatsoever," DeCree said with a hearty laugh. "But it bounced in."

She then scored two quick baskets in overtime to put Kennedy ahead.

Most of DeCree's work is done inside, but she'll have to improve her outside game before next season, according to Raub.

"She'll be marked next year," Raub said. "She'll be the big cheese."

Parson is Kennedy's outside threat, but the senior guard will be displaying her talents at Stanford next season.

"We have Stacy to go out there and shoot it," DeCree said. "Because of that, I haven't worked as much on my outside game."

Ask DeCree where she feels comfortable, and she'll point to a line about 10 feet from the basket.

Inside that area is DeCree territory.

"It's a luxury to have someone that talented inside," Parson said. "When I'm not shooting that well, it doesn't necessarily distract me from shooting, because I know she'll get the rebound."

DeCree feels the injury she suffered against El Camino Real slowed her down somewhat.

DeCree was helping to double team an El Camino Real player on the Cougars' press when she caught an elbow just below the ribs on her right side.

She saw some more action that night, but was in tears after the game. The blow bruised some of DeCree's stomach muscles and her bladder.

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