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Alemany Wins, but Not Before Getting a Scare : Girls' basketball: Undefeated Indians survive Kindle's second-half point barrage to edge San Bernardino, 49-46, in Division II-A championship game.

March 06, 1994|KENNEDY COSGROVE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

POMONA — San Bernardino High guard LaTonya Kindle was running and gunning, going one on five against Alemany, one of the top teams in the state.

And guess what? The begoggled, superquick, 5-foot-7 junior was winning .

With 26 points in the second half, Kindle single-handedly rallied the Cardinals from an 11-point halftime deficit to a three-point lead with three minutes remaining in the Southern Section Division II-A championship game.

But Alemany, its perfect season in jeopardy, responded by scoring the game's final six points to win, 49-46, Saturday at Cal Poly Pomona.

"I was getting really scared," Indian forward Samantha Rigley said.

"But we held our composure. That's why we won the game."

That composure was tested when Kindle swished a 25-foot jump shot to give San Bernardino (25-5) its first lead, 46-43.

Alemany regrouped. Guard Kelly McKay and center Carly Funicello each hit a layup and Alemany led, 47-46, with less than a minute to play.

But then the Indians (28-0) missed three consecutive free throws--including a rare brick by Rigley on the front end of a one and one with 15 seconds left.

San Bernardino's Tanisha Lebrane rebounded the miss but began to fall and had to throw the ball away.

A wild scramble ensued. Players from both teams dived for the ball and collided.

The ball squirted out from a pyramid of players to Alemany point guard Jen Stoughton with seven seconds remaining.

Stoughton was intentionally fouled by Kindle, who had bedeviled the 5-2 sophomore all game.

Sweet revenge. She hit both free throws to seal the victory, Alemany's second section title in three seasons. Last season, the Indians lost to Morningside in a section final.

"I've got to hand it to these kids," Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy said. "When the ball was rolling on the ground at the end of the game . . . there were (Alemany) shirts diving on the ball. I think that was the difference in the game."

It was the narrowest margin of victory this season for Alemany, which won its first four playoff games by an average of 28.5 points.

"All our friends say, 'You guys are boring to watch,' " Rigley said. "Whatever. I definitely prefer a blowout."

A one-sided game appeared likely when Alemany led, 24-13, at halftime.

But LaTonya re-Kindled San Bernardino's hopes with that stunning second-half highlight show.

No one could slow her barrage. Fadeaway jumpers, 25-foot three pointers, one-handed circus shots in the lane, layups. They all seemed to go in.

Said Hearlihy: "I think if I could ever figure out one thing in coaching, I'd like to know how to do that."

Kindle made 11 of 21 shots in the half while spearheading the stirring comeback. Overall, she had 34 points and eight steals, and took 34 shots.

"Alemany won the game, but San Bernardino touched every heart that was watching," Cardinal Coach Tony Selph said. "And especially LaTonya. If there was a little kid watching her play, I'm sure she inspired him, too."

But the Indians' story is inspiring in its own right.

They have overcome the loss of guard Kathy Brown to a knee injury, and the closure of their gym and their school because of damage suffered in the earthquake.

McKay, exhausted after the game, told reporters the team's motto: "You can shake us, but you can't break us."

* MORE BASKETBALL, SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS C12

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