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Mission Viejo Beats Katella for 3-A Title

March 07, 1987|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

Well, Mission Viejo High School won a Southern Section 3-A championship in girls' basketball Friday night in Cal Poly Pomona's Kellogg Gymnasium. The Diablos defeated Katella, 52-50, in front of 3,000.

Each team made 21 field goals, but Mission Viejo made 10 free throws, Katella 8.

Of course, there was much more to it than that. As anyone who has followed Mission Viejo (28-2) this season would expect, point guard Christie Wile was the difference.

Wile, the team's three-time most valuable player, pulled off a rare triple-zero.

She scored zero points from the field, none from the free throw line for a grand total of zero points.

"I've had better games," Wile said.

On the other hand, Mission Viejo's Tricia Stringham, scored a game-high 19 points, making 8 of 9 shots from floor.

It was Stringham who made a jump shot with one second left on the shot clock, 1:01 left, to put Mission Viejo ahead 50-48.

Katella's Deanne Cox made a jump shot to tie the game at 52-52 with 33 seconds left. But that was followed by Michelle Reid's short jump shot along the baseline to make the score 52-50, with 15 seconds left. Reid's shot turned out to be the game winner.

Katella's Julie Standering missed the first shot of a one-and-one opportunity with five seconds left. Wile gathered in the rebound, threw it to Stringham who heaved it down the court as the buzzer sounded.

But for all the points, her big basket in the last minute, Stringham's post-game comments were about one person.

Christie Wile.

"I don't care what she scores," Stringham said. "This team is run by Christie Wile. She makes us go. Without her, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. She's the most valuable person on this team. I don't care if she misses every shot she takes."

Although she plays the game with an expression of exhausted gloom, Wile is the key to Mission Viejo's fast break offense.

She handles the ball most of the time. Her performance against a ball-hawking Katella defense, her ability to get the ball to Stringham and the rest was critical.

She did commit an unusually high amount of turnovers--nine.

But Wile had five assists in the game, giving her 279 for the season to set a Southern Section single-season record. The previous record was 276 held by Charise Bremond (Inglewood).

"Considering they had two people hanging on her the whole game I thought she did great," said John Hattrup, Mission Viejo coach. "She's the one that makes things happen on this team."

Mission Viejo made 21 of 35 field goal attempts (60%). Katella, playing without top scorer Joni Easterly, out with a leg injury, made 21 of 56 (38%).

Mission Viejo took a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Stringham, who plays going in one direction, going toward the basket, had nine in that quarter.

Mission Viejo increased the lead to 22-12 with 5:35 left in the second quarter. But then Katella's defense took over. The Knights caused numerous turnovers and outscored Mission Viejo 12-3 over the last five minutes of the quarter. Julie Ramirez' jump shot with 59 second left in the half brought Katella to within one, 25-24.

Mission Viejo began the third quarter with a flurry. The Diablos had a 35-26 lead with 3:22 left in the third. Katella made a small rally, but Mission Viejo still had a 37-30 lead when the quarter was over and what looked like an easy road to the championship.

But less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Katella had tied the score at 37-37.

Stringham made a free throw to put Mission Viejo ahead 38-37, but Standering's full court drive gave Katella a 39-38 lead with 6:23 remaining.

Katella got the ball back, but Wile stole it, and passed to Lori Totosz, who was fouled. Totosz made one to tie the score at 39-39 with 5:23 left.

The teams exchanged baskets over the next two minutes. Standering was fouled on the drive and made one free throw to put Katella ahead, 44-43.

Wile took the ball after Standering missed her second free throw, drove the length of the court and threw a perfect bounce pass to Stringham who gathered the ball in stride made a layup and was fouled. After Stringham made the free throw, the Diablos had a 46-44 lead with 3:06 left.

Katella went ahead 48-46 on Standering's ump shot. Mission Viejo tied on a Stringham jump shot.

Then came the last second jump shot by Stringham and the baseline shot by Reid.

"You've got to have people on your team who aren't afraid to go for it," Hattrup said. "That's Reid and Stringham for us."

Reid had 15 points. Standering led Katella with 15 points.

Afterward, smiling, Wile put the game and her economical part in it in perspective.

"It was nothing great on my part," Wile said. "But years from now I guess all I'll remember is that we won. That's what counts."

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