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Conquerors' Court Queen to Abdicate to Play Volleyball

February 16, 1989|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

Susan Peters of Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights is approaching the end of a brilliant high school basketball career.

The 5-11, 140-pound senior has consistently appeared among the leading scorers and rebounders in the San Gabriel Valley.

Not to mention individual accolades including All-CIF Southern Section and All-Sierra League honors.

Only for the 17-year-old Peters, the end of her prep basketball career may mark the end of her basketball career entirely.

While she has excelled on the basketball court, Peters also is an outstanding volleyball player.

She was an All-CIF setter for the Conquerors last season and has decided to concentrate on volleyball in college. Peters signed to attend USC on a volleyball scholarship in the fall.

So, with the first round of the CIF playoffs starting today, Peters realizes that her days as a basketball player are numbered and has mixed emotions: "I'm going to miss it. I've had a good time playing here. It's going to be a change going to college.

"I was kind of scared to go from one sport to the other. But now I like volleyball better and I'm glad I made the change. I'll still play basketball but only in pickup games."

Peters was recruited by top NCAA Division I schools in both sports. Among the recruiters in basketball were Washington and Colorado.

But Peters feels she can be better in volleyball: "That was about the toughest decision in my life. But I just thought there are many 5-11 forwards that can shoot but there are not a lot of tall setters, which I am."

As a volleyball player, Peters was also recruited by Illinois, Colorado State, Washington and Arizona State.

"It took me a while to decide," she says. "When I first visited USC, I didn't know what I wanted to do. It was a tough decision."

Peters thinks she made the right choice. Attending USC runs in the family. Several of her relatives have graduated from the school.

"I'll have my family around and they'll be there to watch me play," Peters said. "They (USC) have a good volleyball program and they're strong academically."

While her future appears centered around volleyball, Los Altos basketball Coach Don Holbrook says she could be a Division I basketball player, particularly effective at wing or guard.

"We've moved her outside this season and she's done very well," Holbrook said. "She can shoot well enough playing a wing and she can also go inside and rebound. She can do just about anything we need her to do."

Whether or not she could play basketball at the major college level, Holbrook said there is no question about what she has meant to the high school team: "She's just one of those rare players that comes along once in a great while."

He added: "She has all the skills of a great basketball player, but the one thing she has that a lot of players don't is she's a winner. She'll do whatever she has to do to get the job done."

Peters is the first to admit that she hasn't been able to duplicate the feats of her junior season when she averaged 25.4 points and 11.7 rebounds and was named The Times San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year.

But it is certainly not for lack of trying.

"I'm kind of down from last year, but I still try my hardest," she said. "Whatever sport I'm playing, I still try my best. I don't play just to play, I play to win.

"I've always been competing in sports, ever since I was young, and I've always had a strong desire to win. I just love competition."

She gives her family credit. An older brother, Steve, was an All-CIF football player at Los Altos and is a sophomore tight end at the University of Utah.

"I've always received support from my family," Peters said. "They come to all my games."

Peters gave an indication of her ability when she was the top offensive player on the junior varsity team as a freshman.

She has been her team's leading scorer and an All-Sierra League selection since she joined the varsity as a sophomore. Peters averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore. As a senior, she has averaged 23.5 points and 10 rebounds.

Peters credits a lot of her improved play as a junior to Holbrook. The Conquerors reached the CIF 3-A Division playoffs and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in the school's history.

"He led us to the finals last year," she said. "He's a fundamentals coach. He pushes us and that makes us win."

It was the personal accolades that Peters said surprised her more than the team's success last season.

"I was really surprised at first," she said of the individual awards. "After all, it's a team sport."

As for the team's success, she said: "I knew we could do it because we had the talent to go far. I thought it was kind of a shame we didn't win it."

It's the memory of last season that Peters says has helped motivate her for her senior year.

The Conquerors, who play host to Coachella in the first round of the 4-A Division playoffs at 7:30 tonight, are 24-1 and ranked No. 3 in their division.

Peters said she started her senior season with two goals in mind: "I wanted to win the league and win CIF and we're on our way to doing that."

Actually, the Conquerors tied with West Covina for the league title at 9-1. But the team's hope for a CIF title is very much alive.

For Peters, it would certainly be a nice way to say goodby to basketball.

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