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March 02, 1995|MITCH POLIN

RAGS TO RICHES

At the start of the season, the chance of the Narbonne High girls' basketball team advancing to the City Section 3-A Division championship game appeared to be slim at best.

The Gauchos were coming off a 6-15 season in which they finished last in the Southern League of the Southern Pacific Conference.

The last time Narbonne won a championship in any sport was 1991, and that was in girls' volleyball.

Narbonne opened the season with no seniors in its starting lineup, but the young Gauchos (18-7) have matured quickly and play fourth-seeded Chatsworth (20-5) for the 3-A title at 6 p.m. Friday at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Narbonne has won its past 11 games, including victories over 4-A teams Banning and Carson. James Anderson, who is in his second season as co-coach with Maria Johnson, says there is no mystery about the team's sudden success.

"Talent makes a world of difference," he said. "Last year we didn't have the talent to compete, but now we do."

The Gauchos have been led by 6-foot-4 junior center Robin Hayes and 5-10 sophomore forward Kawai Matthews. Hayes scored 23 points, had 15 rebounds and blocked five shots in Narbonne's 53-42 semifinal victory last week over Fremont.

Narbonne has also received solid performances from its other starters, juniors K.K. Butler and Jennifer Kobayashi and sophomore Patrice Barnes.

"I think we're in the top five (in the City) in terms of talent," he said.

If the Gauchos win the title, Anderson says the next step is to move up to the 4-A next season and strengthen its reputation in City circles.

"We want to build a nice program and we'll be patient," he said. "But we also want to show that we're not a flash in the pan and that we can get back there again."

The first step would be defeating Chatsworth for the 3-A title Friday.

ON A ROLL

Dwan Hurt, coach of the Serra High boys' basketball team, says he never places too much emphasis on his squad's early season record.

That was especially the case this season, when the Cavaliers played a difficult nonleague schedule and struggled.

"I always tell my team it doesn't matter what your record is as long as you get into the playoffs," Hurt said. "When you start the playoffs, your record is always zero and zero."

Since the start of Del Rey League play, the Cavaliers have stepped up their play. Serra (17-11) finished in a tie with St. John Bosco for the league title and will take a seven-game winning streak into the Southern Section Division IV-A championship game against Verbum Dei (21-5) on Friday night at the UC Irvine's Bren Center.

The Cavaliers have only three seniors on their 14-player roster, although the three--Milton Palacio, Leonard Butler and Paul Foster--have played an integral role in Serra's success.

With six sophomores and five juniors on the roster, Serra's future appears promising. But Hurt said the Cavaliers are not looking toward the future at the moment.

"This team is not going to take no for an answer," Hurt said. "They don't even know how to spell the word lose. They want to win a championship."

YOUNG AND COMING

It has been a pretty impressive debut for Yvette Angel as coach of the Bishop Montgomery girls' basketball team.

The Knights (23-4) have been ranked among the top teams in the state in Division III most of the season and are advancing to the Southern Section Division III-AA championship game against Newbury Park (27-1) at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

The team's success is even more impressive when you consider Bishop Montgomery does not have a senior in its starting lineup. The leaders are sophomores Tashara Carter, who plays forward and guard; junior center Tiffany Washington and guard Danielle Graham.

Newbury Park has won 22 games in a row and is ranked No. 6 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

TITLE DEED

It has been a season of firsts for the Cal State Dominguez Hills women's basketball team.

The Toros won their first California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title with a 53-49 victory Saturday over Cal State Los Angeles and will be bidding their first NCAA playoff berth when they play host to the semifinals of the conference tournament tonight in Carson.

Top-seeded Dominguez Hills (19-5) will have a rematch against the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles (16-10) at 8 tonight. Second-seeded UC Riverside plays Cal State San Bernardino at 6 p.m. The winners will meet for the tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs 6 p.m. Saturday at UC Riverside.

Dominguez Hills has already established school records for wins and winning percentage.

Junior forward Faye Hagan needs only seven points to break the school's single-season scoring record of 475 points set in the 1983-84 season by Adrienne Harris.

STRETCH RUN

The Harbor College women's basketball team has had to overcome a number of obstacles to reach the quarterfinal round of the state community college tournament for the fourth season in a row.

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