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Pearson Leads Impressive South Squad


COSTA MESA — The coaches agreed the South squad in the Costa Mesa Kiwanis Club Orange County girls' all-star game was arguably the best ever.

They also agreed that Woodbridge's Melanie Pearson distinguished herself on a team with at least six (so far) Division I players.

Pearson had 11 points and 11 rebounds, a performance that left everyone raving after the South's 85-72 victory over the North Saturday at Orange Coast College.

"Awesome," said Edison's Marie Philman, who scored 12 points for the South and will be Pearson's teammate next year at UCLA. "There aren't many players like her."

"Awesome," said Mater Dei's Allison Luckey, the North point guard who scored eight and had five assists. "She's so smooth and can do so many things. No matter how many times you play against her, you can't stop her."

Pearson, the player of the game, brought out the "ooohs" and "aaahs" early and often with her moves to the basket and her passing. Even when she made mistakes (nine turnovers) she looked impressive doing it.

"She's so good it's scary," said Troy Coach Brad Sand, the North coach. "She's taller [6 feet 2] than everyone we have on the floor, and her arms look long for someone as tall as she is. She can shoot, pass, dribble, play defense. . . ."

Pearson played every position but point guard. She helped the South to a 22-point lead (58-36) with 14 1/2 minutes left, then came up big in the final three minutes with two rebounds, a steal and assist after Aiyana Nash (Sonora, 21 points) made her fourth three-point basket to make it a six-point game, 74-68, with 3:18 to go.

Pearson's Woodbridge teammate, Tami Weaver (10 points) made a free throw and, after Pearson's rebound of the missed second free throw, a 15-footer. Jennifer Ludwicki (Fountain Valley, 13 points) followed with a steal and layup that made it 79-68, and Pearson had the steal and assist on a basket inside by Nicole Strange (Fountain Valley, 10 points) to make it 83-70 with 1:10 left.

The South shot 47% and the North 36%, but the South never mounted a serious threat to the game scoring record, 114 points, set by the South in 1993--a mark some thought would be challenged.

"Whenever someone's an underdog," Pearson said of the North team, "they're more motivated.

"They played hard. They killed us on the boards and outhustled us."

It may have just seemed that way--the South actually had a 52-39 rebounding edge against the smaller North team.

There was no confusion about Pearson, however.

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