SAN DIEGO — Terri Mann was leaning against a wall deep inside the Oakland Coliseum Arena last March saying she needed a bigger challenge than high school basketball. She had just led Point Loma High School to its fourth straight state basketball title and she couldn't wait to play in college.
After 122 victories without a loss in San Diego County, the Pointers began the post-Mann era last week, but by looking at the scores, you would never know Mann was missing. In its first two games, Point Loma beat Torrey Pines, 72-37, and San Diego High, 88-18.
Pointer Coach Lee Trepanier scoffed at the talk last season that Point Loma would soon be on the other end of the lopsided scores once Mann had departed.
"I thought we would be very good," Trepanier said. "We are a different kind of team. We do things differently."
The main difference is the loss of Mann, now starting at Western Kentucky. She already is scoring in double figures, and recently was featured in Sports Illustrated's college basketball issue.
But her absence has not made for a difficult transition for the three returning starters, Monica Filer, Tyeast Brown and Lois Guillory.
Trepanier said they welcomed the chance to prove that they can win without Mann. Combined with players off last season's league champion junior varsity squad (14-2, the best finish for a Pointer junior varsity team), the transition is even smoother.
"They are looking forward to showing people we weren't a one-person team," Trepanier said. "Last year, we were trying to win a fourth state championship and we used one person (Mann) to our advantage. But as a team, they did things last year that even surprised me."
As for this season, Trepanier said it is too early to predict another state title. Part of the problem is figuring out the new system used by the state in arranging the playoffs. Instead of the three divisions used in the past, five will be used this season, in essence to give schools with smaller enrollments a better chance of winning a title.
So, teams that play in the same league may not play in the same division in the section playoffs and beyond.
Point Loma will play in the top division, Division I, again, qualifying by a margin of seven students.
"I would rather play where the bigger people are anyway," Trepanier said. "You just don't know about those five divisions, though. I think it waters down the meaning of a state title."
But a fifth state title seems a long way down the road.
"We're not thinking state right now," he said. "It would be nice, but we have to set goals in self-improvement. We have to take this thing step by step."
After guiding his football team to its best season in 11 years, El Cajon Valley Coach Gene Watkins resigned at the conclusion of the season to spend more time with his family, he said.
Watkins' son Sheldon, 6, had been battling Leukemia, which has been in remission for nine months. Watkins said his top priority is his family.
"It was a tough decision after struggling four years prior to this to get the program (at El Cajon Valley) in the right direction," he said. "But I needed to spend more time with my family and my situation here at home."
El Cajon Valley had its best season since 1976, finishing second in the Grossmont 2-A League with a 5-4-1 record.
Don George, the team's defensive coordinator, will take over for Watkins next season. Watkins will remain at the school, teaching math, physical education and industrial arts.
Credit San Pasqual's football team for its play in pressure situations. San Pasqual rallied from a 20-7 deficit Saturday night to beat 2-A power Lincoln, 28-27, in the San Diego Section 2-A semifinals.
If it weren't for the team's success on third and fourth downs, Lincoln would be playing for the championship.
On its first scoring drive, San Pasqual was successful on three key third downs. The Eagles worked their way out of a third and 3, third and 15 and third and 6 before quarterback Andy Loveland threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Chris Nottoli.
On its third touchdown, San Pasqual kept the drive alive when Loveland hit Nottoli on a 23-yard pass on fourth and 6 from the Lincoln 33. Earlier in the drive, Nottoli ran 19 yards on a reverse on third and 13 from the San Pasqual 46.
Saturday night, San Pasqual plays Avocado League rival San Marcos in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium for the title.