Donna Gondringer of La Quinta High School has bittersweet memories of the 1985 Southern Section 2-A girls' basketball championship game.
First the sweet. Gondringer, then a freshman, remembers that the Aztecs went to the Long Beach Arena, site of the game, in a caravan of rented limousines.
And she recalls the thrill of running onto the Long Beach Arena court before the start of the game against San Luis Obispo.
But it's the bitter result that Gondringer can't--or won't--forget.
San Luis Obispo beat La Quinta, 47-45.
This season, returning to the 2-A final has become a high priority for Gondringer, a 6-foot 2-inch senior center.
"After losing there, still is a little hole in my heart where that Southern Section championship is missing," Gondringer said.
"I want to go to the Southern Section final so bad. That's all we've been talking about. Until then, nothing comes into my mind. I'm only concentrating on what I can do to help the team."
This season, La Quinta is 17-3 overall and 10-0 in Garden Grove League play. The Aztecs also are ranked first in the 2-A division and third in the Orange County coaches' poll.
Last week, Gondringer, The Times' player of the week, scored 82 points in three games, all Aztec victories. She averaged 27.3 points a game last week, above her 18-point average for the season.
She scored 33 points and had 13 rebounds in La Quinta's 91-38 victory over Kennedy Monday. She had 28 points by halftime. She might have eclipsed her career high of 38 points, set against Bolsa Grande earlier this season, but the Aztecs had the game in hand and she played only four minutes in the second half.
In the Aztecs' 92-24 victory over Bolsa Grande Wednesday, Gondringer had 36 points on 17-of-25 shooting from the field. And Friday night, she had only 13 points but also 10 rebounds as the Aztecs defeated Santiago, 59-26.
"When we played Santiago, our shooting was off," Gondringer said. "Nothing we did came out right."
Still, the Aztecs won.
La Quinta's only losses this season have been nonleague games against Brea-Olinda--top-ranked in Orange County and the 3-A--El Toro and Mission Viejo, both ranked among the county's top 10.
"We led Brea by eight points at the end of the first quarter and we ended up losing by 20 . . . by 20," Gondringer said.
Playing against tougher competition will help the Aztecs during the playoffs, she said.
"I like to play in games like that, but if we come out on the losing end, it makes me mad," Gondringer said.
La Quinta High School
Height, Class: 6-2, Sr.
Last Week: Scored 33 points and had 13 rebounds in La Quinta's 91-38 win over Kennedy, scored 36 points in a 92-24 victory over Bolsa Grande and had 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 59-26 win over Santiago.
Season: Averaging 19.5 points a game.