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ORANGE COUNTY ALL-STAR GIRLS' BASKETBALL : All Eyes on North's Matsumoto

April 24, 1993|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE — Gary Raya had no idea what he was getting in Lynly Matsumoto.

Raya, the El Dorado girls' basketball coach, is directing the North team in the Costa Mesa Kiwanis Club's Orange County All-Star Game at 4 p.m. today. It was his decision to have Matsumoto on the team. He had never seen her play, but since she made the Garden Grove League's all-league team, he figured she could at least dribble the ball.

When the North tips off as a heavy underdog to the South, everyone will get a chance to see what Raya has seen the last two weeks.

"She's the county's best-kept secret as a player and as a person," Raya said. "She's been our most impressive player, in my eyes. To me, she's been the biggest surprise."

Matsumoto provided the fight in Kennedy's Irish. The 5-foot-7 guard, quiet by nature, was also the team's leader. She did not attract attention to herself--opposing defenses did that for her.

She averaged 16.6 points and 6.1 assists and helped Kennedy to an 18-8 record. She did it for her third varsity coach in four years, an adjustment that wasn't always easy, she said, because she was constantly learning a new system.

It also didn't help get her name in the talent pool. But she's immersed in the pool now, and has a chance to impress scouts that might be watching her today.

The only nibble she has had from a college has been from Cal State Los Angeles. She has a 3.94 grade-point average and has been accepted to UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego. Then again, she might play at a community college--the general education is cheaper and she will get a chance to play and attract the attention of bigger schools.

"She's not flashy, just solid," Raya said. "She handles the ball well, shoots the ball well, works hard, plays good defense. I believe there's a place for her to play in college. I pulled her aside and asked if there was anything I could do, because she can play. She's a really neat kid. She may be our best player."

Matsumoto will play point guard and shooting guard. She's looking forward to the opportunity of playing in a game of this caliber after spending the year on an inexperienced Kennedy squad.

"Players on this team, they know their fundamentals, they know where to go," Matsumoto said. "We have strong guards and strong forwards--there's not as much inexperience. I think you just have to play your game. You get more opportunity as a guard to dish to the height, which we never had (at Kennedy). You get chance to drive and play with people who know where to go. You get the opportunity to do more.

"I guess you have to step up your game on a team like this and show what you can do for the team."

Matsumoto already has turned Raya into a believer. He says other converts are forthcoming.

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