Girls' high school basketball players--and teams--continue to move without dribbling the ball, but this time it's not a traveling violation.
Top players such as former Ventura standout Karry Wagoner are transferring from one basketball program to another without violating Southern Section rules.
League rivals may scatter to different divisions under the revised playoff format of the Southern Section.
Santa Ynez should earn bonus points for being frequent highway travelers after being promoted from the Tri-Valley to the Frontier League.
And while girls' basketball might not match boys' basketball in terms of speed and power, its level of competition is steadily improving.
"We're finding more players making a commitment to play basketball during the off-season," Simi Valley Coach Dave Murphy said. "They're playing in summer leagues and attending basketball camps."
The Marmonte League promises to be one of the closest races with at least 4 legitimate contenders. Buena and Santa Barbara will renew their rivalry in the Channel League. Santa Ynez joins Santa Clara as the top programs in the Frontier League and La Reina is the favorite in the Tri-Valley League.
A look at the top Ventura County teams follows:
* Buena--The Bulldogs, who were 24-3 overall and 12-2 in the Channel League last season, reached the semifinals of the Southern Section 4-A playoffs without much height. They will have even less this season.
Junior center Nicole Ellis (5-11 1/2) underwent reconstructive knee surgery during the summer and is out for the season. Senior Joannie Weinerth (5-6) averaged 11.8 points a game and was second-team All-Southern Section. Senior Mindy Husky (5-8) averaged 5.7 points a game. Three sophomores--Jennifer Wells (5-10), Mia Palkie (5-8), and Lianne Ishikawa (5-2)--led the junior varsity last season to a 20-1 record.
* Santa Clara--The Saints (23-8, 8-0 in the Frontier League) already had the premier guard in the county with two-time All-Southern Section player Tami Adkins. With the addition of center Karry Wagoner (6-1), a transfer from Ventura, they should contend for a Southern Section title.
Adkins averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 7.3 assists a game. Wagoner will benefit from Adkins' passing ability and should improve on last year's average of 10 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Senior Tanisha Anderson (5-10), who averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds, and senior Roberta Pinedo (5-4) are also returning starters.
* Channel Islands--The Raiders (14-10 and 5-7 in the Marmonte League) have been also-rans during the first 4 years under Ryle Lynch-Cole, but this year they are the favorites to win the league title.
Senior 5-10 forward Ytteb Bowls (the first name is Betty spelled backward) averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and is one of 2 returning 3-year starters. The other, Taysha Johnson (5-7), is the Raiders' best outside shooter.
Channel Islands' junior varsity was 24-0 last season and 3 players from that team--Carrie Davidson, Melinda Hoffman and Dora Sattiewhite--will contribute.
* Simi Valley--The Pioneers (10-14, 4-8 in the Marmonte League) suffered their first losing record in school history. With 7 returning lettermen and 3 returning starters, Simi Valley is expected to contend.
The Pioneers have a guard-oriented lineup with Keira Irwin (5-6), Shannon Solway (5-9) and Andrea Taplik (5-6). Irwin was the team's most valuable player and a second-team all-league selection after averaging 9.4 points and 4.1 assists. Solway, who averaged 6.1 points and 7 rebounds, returns after missing most of last season because of a severe illness.
* Thousand Oaks--The Lancers (25-4, 12-0 in the Marmonte League) lost 4 starters from last year's quarterfinalist team, but the return of starting guard Amy Chandler and top reserve Shani Smyth will keep them in contention. Chandler (5-6) and Smyth (5-8) have scored in double figures in Thousand Oaks' first 5 games.
Freshman Michelle Palmisano spurned an opportunity to attend Buena and will be a starter for the Lancers. Palmisano won a national shooting competition for her age group (13-15) last year at the Sports Arena.
Center Debbie Beuche (6-1), a transfer from Oxnard, and forwards Sue Kama (5-8) and Suzanne Nelinger (5-9) will provide the inside scoring and rebounding.