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SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS PREVIEW : Brea-Olinda, La Quinta Are the Favorites : Girls

February 17, 1988|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | Times Staff Writer

Heavy favorites, longshots, contenders and pretenders are all present and accounted for as the girls' basketball playoffs begin this week.

Wild-card games are scheduled for tonight at 7:30, and first-round play starts Saturday night at 7:30.

Two Orange County teams, Brea-Olinda High School in the 3-A division and La Quinta in 2-A, are top-seeded teams. Each could fit into the heavy-favorite category. Each has been top-ranked in the polls for most of the season. Each has a number of talented players and has had plenty of playoff experience.

But Brea-Olinda and La Quinta are only two of a number of county teams that have qualified in the five divisions.

Here's a closer look, by division, at the playoffs:

4-A

This appears to be the most-competitive division. Morningside is the top-seeded team, but Santa Barbara, Lynwood and Buena--the other seeded teams--can't be counted out. The four appear to be a step ahead of the field. Morningside is the top-ranked team in the state.

Each of the county's 4-A schools has drawn a tough opening-round opponent, none tougher than the one drawn by Marina, though. The Vikings (20-5) play host to Muir (17-5) in the best game of the first round.

Marina is led by center Dawn Charroin, who averages 15 points a game. But the Vikings will be bolstered by the return of Allison Krause, a junior point guard. Krause sprained her knee last month.

"She puts on a clinic on how to play point guard," Marina Coach Mike Thornton said. "We're 20 points better with her."

Sunset League champion Fountain Valley (16-11), which starts just one senior, plays host to Long Beach Poly (21-6). Fountain Valley, picked to finish no higher than fourth by league coaches, beat Marina in the regular-season finale, 68-67.

Huntington Beach (15-8), with high-scoring forward Tami Chick, plays at Foothill (15-8) in the first-round's only match up of county 4-A teams.

3-A

Orange County has dominated this division. Since 1983, at least one county team has been represented in the championship game.

This season, Brea-Olinda has established itself as the team to beat. The Wildcats (25-1) have strength inside with Susan Tousey, a senior center, and quickness outside with guards Aimee McDaniel and Tammy Blackburn.

Among the challengers are Redlands (22-3), which won the Citrus Belt League and took the second-seeded spot, and third-seeded Mission Viejo.

Mission Viejo, the defending 3-A champion, emerged from a tough South Coast League with just one loss and is a dark horse. Mission Viejo (21-5) is led by guard Tricia Stringam, who averages 17 points a game.

2-A

La Quinta lost to Hesperia in the quarterfinal round last season. This season, the same teams are the top contenders. La Quinta (21-3) is top-seeded and Hesperia (21-1) is seeded second.

Donna Gondringer, a senior center who averages 18.9 points a game, leads a fast-breaking team that lost only to 3-A powers Brea-Olinda, Mission Viejo and El Toro.

The luck, or lack thereof, of the draw almost guarantees a county team to reach the quarterfinals.

La Habra, the Freeway League champion at 17-6, and Woodbridge, the Pacific Coast League champion at 21-5, are in the same bracket as La Quinta.

1-A

Whittier Christian, which finished third in the Olympic League, is the only county team represented in this division. Whittier Christian (8-12) plays at Westlake Saturday.

SMALL SCHOOLS

Liberty Christian (17-1) earned the second-seeded spot, behind top-seeded Rio Hondo Prep (21-1). Lisa Whitney, a senior forward who averages 13.4 points and 18.9 rebounds a game, and Sharon Crouch, a junior point guard who averages 18.2 points a game, lead Liberty Christian.

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