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When Oenning Finds Her Rhythm, Warriors Waltz to Title

March 13, 1994|JASON H. REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Jamie Oenning was playing less like a standout senior guard and more like a basketball novice, and Woodbridge Coach Eric Bangs reached his limit.

Bangs shouted at Oenning throughout the first half of the Southern California Regional Division II girls' final after each mistake she made, which kept him busy. Finally, at halftime Saturday at Anaheim Arena, Bangs pulled her aside and made his feelings known at length in a face-to-face session.

And exactly what was said?

"Well, let's just say that it couldn't be used in print," Bangs said. "But I felt I made my point."

Indeed, Oenning bounced back from her dismal first-half performance to help lead Woodbridge to a 46-41 victory over Mission Hills Alemany. She made an important 15-foot jump shot from the baseline with 1 minute 25 seconds to play to give Woodbridge a 44-41 lead--and a big lift.

Nothing less was expected.

"When you've seen it so many times down the stretch, it doesn't surprise you," Bangs said. "She is our best shooter, and she was in her rhythm on that shot.

"That was a key. That was the clutch shot of the game."

Oenning, who leads the Warriors in scoring with an average of about 14 points, scored only eight on four-of-12 shooting. But she was able to help the Warriors in other ways, with five assists and four steals.

"I was a little nervous, and it was hard for me shooting here," Oenning said. "It wasn't easy going from shooting at Woodbridge High to a place where NBA players play."

Bangs knew that Oenning would not wilt because of his criticism.

"Jamie has been around me for a long time," Bangs said. "I didn't think her head was into the game, and I told her so.

"I wanted her to start getting focused."

Oenning wanted the same, but Alemany was not cooperating, she said.

"They were playing really tough man-to-man defense on us," Oenning said. "It was really hard for me to even get off a shot.

"But I finally got in my rhythm."

Woodbridge needs Oenning to maintain it for one more game. The Warriors will play Sacramento El Camino for the State championship Saturday in Oakland. And Oenning hopes to end her final high school game the way she has ended all the others in her senior year--smiling.

"Words can't really describe how I feel," she said. "I wouldn't want to end my career with any other people than the people I am with right now.

"This whole season has been like a dream, and the dream continues."

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