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Rags to Riches: Brentwood Enjoys Championship Season : High schools: Girls' basketball program was able to overcome a humbling 70-3 loss in 1987-88 season. With a new coach and attitude, the Eagles won the Delphic League title this season.

February 14, 1991|RAY RIPTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jana Baumgarten was the leading scorer for the Brentwood School girls' basketball team in a landmark game during the 1987-88 season.

Baumgarten, a freshman at the time, scored two points, both on free throws, as the Eagles were routed by Crossroads, 70-3.

It could have been worse, but not much. According to CIF-Southern Section records, a team was once held scoreless, another scored a point and another finished with two points. Brentwood is tied with five others for fourth place in this undesirable category.

But for Baumgarten, now a senior reserve guard and team co-captain, the debacle has been hard to forget. "It was embarrassing," she said.

She said that the results of that game were not unexpected.

"About half the team didn't show up because it was a Saturday night, and they wanted to go out," she said. "(The rest of the team) didn't know what to do."

But times have changed at Brentwood. The school won a Delphic League championship this season, snapped Crossroads' streak of 77 consecutive league victories and finished the regular season with a 15-2 record.

Crossroads' winning streak was the fourth longest in Southern Section history; Riverside Poly won a section-high 97 consecutive games in the Citrus Belt League from 1978 to 1985.

Ending seven seasons of league dominance by Crossroads is among the things that the Brentwood girls are savoring these days.

Much of the credit for turning around the program is going to Coach Dan Basmagian, who is also a history teacher and director of Brentwood's lower school (seventh and eighth grades).

In Baumgarten's freshman year, the team finished 4-14. In 1988-89, Basmagian's first year, the team improved to 9-10. Last season the Eagles were 13-7. They lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Pat Brown, the athletic director and football coach at the exclusive prep school, said that the ill-famed 70-3 game was not the compelling factor that made him ask Basmagian to take over the girls' basketball program.

Brown said that before Basmagian took over the reins "there was no discipline in the program" and the girls were not enjoying basketball.

"They will enjoy it if somebody is doing the job, and that, naturally, wasn't the case," he said.

"(Taking the job) was something I had been asking him to do for what seemed like a couple of years. Coaching junior varsity boys basketball was one of his first jobs here, and he really knows the game. He seemed like the most logical person to do the job. He is disciplined and organized, and I kept telling him how wonderful he is."

Crossroads Coach Larry Wiener also praised Basmagian.

"Dan's a very good coach, and he has got them playing good team basketball," he said. "He has got some good athletes, but he has been doing the right things.

"Brentwood has teamwork. They pass the ball well, are disciplined in their offense and really hustle on defense."

The Eagles' best player may be senior forward and co-captain Stephanie Collins, who was named All-Delphic League and to The Times' All-Westside team last season after she averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.

During the 1990-91 season, she averaged 16.1 points and 11.2 rebounds. In last week's 58-49 loss at Rosamond, the state runner-up in Division V last season, Collins had a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 steals.

Twin sisters Amy and Julie Uhrman are juniors and the starting guards, and sophomore Lanita Foley, who leads the team with 94 steals this season, is the other forward. Isis Mancil, a 5-foot-10 junior, and 5-5 sophomore Ebony Loeb alternate at center. Baumgarten is the first guard off the bench.

Basmagian said that with the team's lack of height and power, "our whole philosophy is to steal the ball. Our goal is to confuse the hell out of you."

Rosamond, also the Southern Section 1-A champion last season, was confused by Brentwood's defensive tactics at the outset of last week's game. Brentwood got out to a 13-6 lead and was ahead, 24-23, at halftime before losing.

Basmagian said that in the second half, Rosamond "got in our face. They took us out of our comfort zone, and all our starters tried to (win the game) on their own. But they never gave up."

"Winning is so new to us that we wanted to play the best at their place under adverse conditions (a large home crowd)," Basmagian said. "But we were not intimidated. We learned a lot more than they did, and we learned what big-time basketball is all about."

Brentwood might not have been in any condition to learn unless Alan Mindell had not been hired as a part-time coach.

Mindell, who said that he has been a walk-on coach at schools in Alhambra and Santa Monica, was hired by Brown last year to assist Basmagian and to coach the school's first full-fledged junior varsity girls' basketball team and the boys' jayvee baseball team.

Basmagian said that Mindell has helped develop the Eagles' defensive schemes and that they "fit our personality and the ability of our team. If nothing else, we'll confuse you."

Mindell has to appeal to girl basketball players who are probably more interested in scoring high in college entrance examinations than they are in making a three-point basket. He said that he tailors his coaching toward "the intellectual side of the game. It's based on sound judgments of what makes sense."

Basmagian said that he may have been guilty of over-coaching in his first two seasons but that he has had more of a hands-off policy this season.

"I yelled a lot the first year, and the girls would come back with, 'Yeah, but . . .' or 'Prove it to me.' One day last year in the locker room I went nuts, but I realized then that they were going to be successful without my yelling at them.

"It's a very bright team with high grade-point averages. We've really improved--and my girls are interested in a lot of other things besides basketball.

"But when I have them, they're mine. And they really hustle."

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