San Diego Point Loma High School's 56-45 victory over Huntington Beach Edison in the Division I girls' Southern Regional final Saturday night at the Sports Arena served to enhance the reputation of the Pointers' Terri Mann.
The win also put Point Loma into the State final next Saturday in Oakland against Grant of Sacramento.
And it all looked so easy, so routine. Fact is, Mann, a senior center, and Point Loma (33-0) will try for their fourth straight state title.
And while Mann did not reach her scoring average of 38 points a game, the Chargers (31-2) felt her presence at all times.
Mann played with varying degrees of intensity. She played relaxed defense at times, allowing Edison players to slip by for easy layups. But at other times, she showed why she is a two-time All-American and the most highly recruited girls' player in California, if not the country.
She played hard enough to get a game-high 19 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
All of her points came from within 10 feet of the basket. Most impressive, though, was her rebounding. Most of the 18 were pulled in one-handed, in the manner that's earned her the nickname Baby Moses, after Moses Malone.
Mann also brought the ball upcourt under the constant harassment of Edison guard Michelle Hennessey.
Mann is 6 feet 2 inches, and Hennessey is only 5-3. While the matchup looked funny at times, Mann had the ball stolen just twice.
Despite the pressure defense, Lee Trepanier, the Pointers' coach, had enough confidence to let Mann bring the ball upcourt.
"People don't realize what a good ballhandler she is," Trepanier said. "Most teams never press us. This was the first team that pressed us all year."
Even Mann's teammates made the win appear easy. Guard Monica Filer scored 10 points, all in the first half, as the Pointers led, 32-24.
In the second half, Liza Carrillo scored 13 of her 17 points. Carrillo, a 5-11 senior forward, made 8 of 11 shots, 6 of 6 in the second half.
"A lot of people think I'm the only player on the team," Mann said. "After I shoot and, if I miss, there's got to be someone on the weak side."
Carrillo was there to haul in two long passes from Mann. Carrillo converted both into layups as the Pointers held off one of Edison's few rallies.
The biggest run Edison could manage brought the Chargers to within 34-30 with 6:12 left in the third quarter.
"I felt we had finally taken charge," Dave White, the Edison coach, said. "But they got some cheap ones, and we fell asleep a couple of times."
Indeed, Point Loma put the game away after that. Two Carrillo layups wrapped around a basket by Edison's Stacee Johnson pushed the Pointers' lead to 41-32 with 4:26 left.
By the fourth quarter it was 47-34, and Edison did not get closer than 10 points after that. Denise Ogburn's 17 points led the Chargers. Center Kristi Smith had 16 points but was no match for Mann inside.
Mann did not take a shot from the field in the fourth quarter, making just 1 of 2 from the free-throw line.
She seemed content to throw Carrillo the two long bombs, to rebound and to rule the key.
"We never faced anyone like Terri Mann," White said. "Some other people hurt us too. (Carrillo) took it to us inside."