The Times All-Ventura County girls' basketball team would make a great Girl Scout troop: They dole out assists to any teammate in need.
Seven guards, including three who set school records for assists, distinguish the roster of 10. Three of the guards are repeat selections--Tami Adkins of Santa Clara, Joan Weinerth of Buena and Marlo Cormier of Newbury Park. The team's only junior, Nichole Victoria of Camarillo, also is a guard.
"This is the year for backcourt players," said Buena Coach Joe Vaughan, whose team won the Channel League championship. "Most of the dominant players were guards."
The proliferation of standout guards made for exciting play. Games were fast-paced, with expert ballhandling, crisp passes and accurate outside shooting the norm.
"Everyone was outside-oriented," said Thousand Oaks Coach Chuck Brown, whose team won the Marmonte League title. "There were more fast breaks. We didn't see but a couple of teams that had strong inside games."
Adkins, Weinerth and Amy Chandler of Thousand Oaks set single-season assist records at their schools. Victoria, Cormier, Shani Smyth of Thousand Oaks and Jackie Neder of Rio Mesa set scoring records at their schools.
Several games featured interesting match-ups between guards, and often teams employed a full-court press to utilize their quickness and neutralize the ballhandling skills of opposing guards.
"We had to concentrate on the guards," Vaughan said. "More teams were pressing, taking advantage of their quickness."
The only center on the team is Karry Wagoner of Santa Clara, the Southern Section 2-A Division champion. "Karry gave us a definite advantage over teams without a strong inside game," Saint Coach Tom McConville said.
The two forwards on the team--Shannon Solway of Simi Valley and Mindy Huskey of Buena--are fine all-around players who can shoot from the outside as well as most of the guards.
A look at each player:
Tami Adkins: Although she is one of three returning players on the Times team and a returning all-state selection, Adkins continued to improve. The Santa Clara senior improved her statistics in every category, averaging 15.5 points, 6.6 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 7.6 ball recoveries. Adkins, a point guard who rarely makes a mental mistake, set school records this season for assists and ball recoveries and also holds career records in the same categories (574 assists, 570 ball recoveries).
Amy Chandler: This senior point guard from Thousand Oaks set school records for assists in a season (222), a game (16) and a career (417). Chandler was also an outstanding defensive player assigned to cover the opposition's best outside shooter. On offense she was the playmaker, averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds while committing only 4.0 turnovers a game for the Marmonte League champions.
Marlo Cormier: This repeat Times all-county selection set a Newbury Park record by scoring 1,030 points in her career. She is the only Panther, in fact, to score more than 1,000. Cormier's 472 points this season and 35 in one game also are school records. The 5-foot-8 guard earned a scholarship to Oregon State. Besides her prolific scoring, Cormier averaged 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.1 ball recoveries.
Mindy Huskey: Huskey was one of the best outside shooters in the county and was certainly the best outside shooter on the Buena team, making 43% of her field-goal attempts. Huskey, a senior, was only the second player off the bench last season but she might have been the county's most improved player this season. She averaged 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds and also became a solid defensive player for the Channel League champions.
Jackie Neder: The Rio Mesa senior was virtually a one-girl team, scoring 644 points for a county-high average of 26.9 points a game. Neder set school records for points in a season, breaking the old record by 218 points. Neder, an exceptionally quick guard, scored most of her points on drives to the basket. Although Rio Mesa finished sixth in the Channel League and had a 7-17 overall record, Neder proved to be among the county's best.
Shannon Solway: The senior forward from Simi Valley played a well-rounded game, which was reflected in her selection as her team's most valuable player. Solway shot 44.3% from the field and made 64.3% of her free throws for a team-leading 14.6 points a game. She also led the team with a 9.0 rebound average and ranks fifth in the school record book with 252 rebounds in a season. Solway also ranks fourth in single-season scoring with 408 points and fifth in single-season assists with 108.
Shani Smyth: The sharp-shooting Thousand Oaks senior is a three-year varsity player who set school records for points in a career and a season. Smyth, a player who was equally adept at playing outside or inside for the Marmonte League champions, scored 607 points this season and had 906 for her career. She averaged a school-record 21.7 points and also had averages of 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.