There have been changes aplenty since Orange County girls' basketball teams last played.
First, the lowdown on the coaching changes:
John Hattrup, who led Mission Viejo High School to the 3-A championship last season, quit to become an assistant at Brea-Olinda under Mark Trakh.
"Mission Viejo's loss was our gain," Trakh said. "A lot of people said it wouldn't work. We're both yellers. But it has. It's just made the program stronger."
Dave White, who guided Edison to the 4-A title and a berth in the state semifinals, has quit to concentrate on the Charger football program.
Mickey McAulay, who led Katella into the 3-A final, resigned to become an assistant to Darlene May at Cal Poly Pomona.
Steve Asay is the new coach at Mission Viejo. White's assistant, Mark Shannon, is Edison's new coach. Barbara Bausch has taken over at Katella.
Now the players who have gone on to play in college:
Kristi Smith, the 4-A player of the year from Edison, is at the University of Utah.
Carrie Egan, the 3-A player of the year from Brea-Olinda, is at Cal Poly Pomona.
Elaine Youngs, El Toro guard/forward; Tricia Stringam, Mission Viejo guard, and Susan Tousey, Brea-Olinda center, are among those who will replace Smith and Egan as the county's top players.
Finally, there is the addition of the three-point shot, which debuts this season.
Trakh, for one, does not believe the 19-foot 9-inch line will prove to be a significant factor.
"You've got to shoot it and be productive," he said. "Making 1 out of 10 isn't going to do it. It's not going to change our offense. I don't see it being that big a factor in girls' basketball. I like the rule, though."
So much for the changes.
What will remain constant is that Brea-Olinda will be the county's top team. The Wildcats have been at the top, or close to it, for the past five years.
El Toro, Mission Viejo, Marina and Katella, as they were last season, are among the county's top 10 teams. Should Brea-Olinda falter, the others will be there to step in.
Last season, the Wildcats missed the championship game for the first time since 1982. In that time, the Wildcats were 3-A champions once, 3-A runners-up once and 2-A runners-up twice. This season, Brea-Olinda has too much talent and too much tradition to rate lower than No. 1 in Orange County.
Since 1980, either Brea-Olinda or Mission Viejo has played in the championship game every season but one. Brea-Olinda made the 3-A semifinals last season, and Mission Viejo won the title.
In Egan's place are a number of talented players, including veteran center Tousey, a 6-foot 3-inch senior who averaged 16 points a game. Kristen Blair, a part-time starter last season, is back. Aimee McDaniel and Tammy Blackburn will be counted on to anchor the backcourt. Cindy Gunn, a transfer from Texas, is the Wildcats' best newcomer.
2. EL TORO
Trakh on the Chargers: "If they don't win the (Southern Section) title, I don't know . . ." Youngs hasn't played a game this season, yet is drawing rave reviews. Trakh said Youngs is far and away the best player in Orange County.
Len Locher, who runs a scouting service for the western United States, calls her the best athlete in the region.
In addition, the Chargers, who were 20-8 last season, have three starters back, including Lori Halliday, a 5-8 senior; Rae Andrews, the point guard, and Andrea Young, a 6-0 senior.
Young was the Chargers' second-leading scorer and rebounder last season but will miss about six weeks with a stress fracture of her left foot. Young, who averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds last season, had a cast placed on her foot Monday.
3. MISSION VIEJO
The 3-A champions last season lost their coach (Hattrup) and four starters, but Stringam, one of the Diablos' clutch performers, is back for her senior season. Stringam, a 5-11 guard/forward, averaged 13.7 points per game last season as Mission Viejo went 29-3.
She had her best games in the playoffs, when she averaged almost 20 points.
The Diablos should challenge El Toro for the South Coast League championship as they did last season, when each finished 9-1.
Liberty Brewster and Dawn Charroin have seemingly been wearing Viking uniforms forever. Well, they're finally seniors, having played on varsity since their freshman seasons. Brewster averaged 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds and Charroin 16.2 and 11.5 last season as they led the Vikings to a 15-11 record.
Both players have vastly improved, and Marina should have, too. With Edison and Fountain Valley losing their star players to graduation, the Vikings are favored in the Sunset League.
Coach Mike Thornton believes the Vikings' biggest improvement is at guard, where he will use Allison Krause, Dee Dee Stigar and Melisa Sortino, a sophomore who will be the first player off the bench.
"The guards will be the difference from this year and last year," said Thornton, who is in his eighth season at Marina.
Kathy Stuppy, a 5-11 center who has played for three seasons, is the Vikings' best defensive player.