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SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS' BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS

Division Iv-a

February 13, 1996|MELANIE NEFF

Defending champion: Cerritos Valley Christian.

Top teams: Valley Christian (24-0), Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson (16-5), Sun Valley Village Christian (14-6), Mojave (18-0).

Top players: Amy Howard (Orange Lutheran), Rachael MacDonald (Brethren Christian), Kiyoko Miller (Valley Christian), Cindy Oparah (Brethren Christian), Liz Pappas (Orange Lutheran), Tandee Taylor (Valley Christian), Monique Toney (Valley Christian).

Dark horse: Brethren Christian (15-8). Two of the Warriors' losses were by only one point and their two league losses came at the hands of Valley Christian. Brethren Christian, ranked-fifth in the division, hosts Burbank Providence (14-3), the second-place team from the Liberty League, which boasts no ranked or seeded teams. Providence moved up from Division V-AA, where it lost in the first round of the playoffs last season. If Brethren Christian advances, it will face second-seeded Bellarmine-Jefferson, losers in last season's quarterfinals. The Warriors are led by MacDonald, averaging 12.4 points, and Oparah with 10.

Notes: Valley Christian should have no problem winning it all again for the fifth-consecutive season--its eighth section title. The Crusaders have an improved team from last year's, which advanced to the state final before losing to Campolindo, 62-37. Valley Christian defeated its league opponents by a margin of 756-335, with Brethren Christian presenting its toughest game (62-40). Valley Christian rounded out its nonleague schedule by beating the Mission Valley League's top team, Cerritos, and Pasadena Muir, the second-seeded team in the Division III-AA. The Crusaders are led by Miller, a 5-9 guard who averages 20.5 points. She is a transfer from Brea Olinda. Playing next to her is Toney, a transfer from Esperanza, who averages 13 points. At center is Taylor (15 points, 10 rebounds). . . . Orange Lutheran comes in as the Olympic League's No. 3 team. The Lancers have an outstanding backcourt in Howard (13.5 points) and Pappas (12.8 points), with Pappas hitting 37% from beyond the three-point line and Howard 33%. But Orange Lutheran will need to find some rebounding help, as their leader, Pappas, averages only five. If the Lancers can beat Downey Pius X St. Matthias in the first round, things only get even tougher.

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