Granada Hills Kennedy and Crenshaw High Schools will conclude the girls' basketball season today just the way they started it--playing against each other.
But unlike the first game, a relatively meaningless nonleague game, today at 5:45 at the Sports Arena the teams will be playing for the City 4-A championship.
Kennedy, the defending champion, opened defense of its 1986 title on Dec. 2 with a 56-40 thumping of Crenshaw at home. It won't be as easy this time against an improved Crenshaw team.
The teams are very similar, with each employing a full-court press with quick guards and a tall center.
Crenshaw has 6-3 Eugenia Miller, while Kennedy has 6-0 Diane DeCree, playing in her third championship game in three years. The teams use their centers differently, though, as DeCree tries to score and Miller concentrates on rebounding and defense.
In the backcourt, Kennedy has an advantage in height with 5-8 Tisa Rush and 5-6 Yolanda Lewis against 5-3 Chevele Steward and 5-0 Kamela Mallory. Rush burned Crenshaw for 33 points in the first meeting.
Crenshaw (17-4) stumbled out of the gate, opening the season 1-3, but the Cougars came back to go 9-1 in the Mid-City League, the City's toughest league.
The Cougars have been even more impressive in the playoffs with an 84-39 win over Fairfax, a 65-38 win over Washington and a 69-42 win over Jordan in the semifinals to give them 11 straight wins.
Kennedy (21-3) had a tough nonleague schedule, playing among others Ventura Buena, Simi Valley, Woodland Hills Louisville and Mission Hills Alemany.
But the Golden Cougars had another easy league season, extending their streak of consecutive Valley League wins to 90. Their smallest margin of victory in a league game was 15 points.
"I don't worry about the opponents too much," Kennedy Coach Craig Raub said. "We do what we do best, and if they can stop us, they deserve to win."