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1996-97 GIRLS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Freeway League

December 10, 1996|MIKE TERRY

Buena Park: 2-8, 4-19 in 1995-96. Coach: Cedrick Reed (sixth year, 13-75). Prospects: On the surface, the Coyotes' record last season doesn't impress. But two seasons ago, Buena Park won only one game, so Reed can believe there has been progress. Gone via graduation is Shabana Tailor (10.4 points, 13.1 rebounds), so trying to get them to the playoffs are returning starters sophomore guard Tami Darro (5-2, four points, two assists), and junior forwards Kate Ragains (5-6, 3.5 points, six rebounds) and Veronica Velasco (5-6, nine points, four rebounds).

Fullerton: 3-21, 3-7 in 1995-96. Coach: Mark Carrido (second year, 3-21). Prospects: "Last year was to rebuild. This year we want to make some noise," said Carrido, who wants his team thinking league championship. It's uncertain whether the Indians can make that leap, but they should be improved. Carrido expects junior forward Cara Dykes (5-10, 13 points, six rebounds) to be one of the league's best; he'll also need solid seasons from junior center Shannon Hoerner (5-10, nine points, seven rebounds), and junior guard Melissa Rodriguez (four points, five assists).

La Habra: 9-13, 7-3 in 1995-96. Coach: John Koehler (17th year, 334-95). Prospects: Seven returning players, four of them starters, give Koehler the foundation to build a league threat. Junior forward Lisa Moreno (5-10, 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds) will be the hub, but senior center Nori McCrystal (5-11, 7.9 points, 8.7 rebounds) is primed for a breakout season. Opponents better keep an eye on senior guard Lauren Koehler (5-7), who averaged 6.3 steals last season.

Sonora: 18-7, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Rick Albano (second year, 18-7). Prospects: Albano's squad finished second last season, but he will not be happy with another first-round playoff loss this season. A continued rise in the Raiders' fortunes will depend in part whether sophomore center Sarah Fister (6-3, eight points, 13 rebounds), sister of former Sonora player Chad, is ready to become a dominant player. Also returning are junior forward Melissa Ryan (5-10, six points, five rebounds) and forward Kristy De Oliva (5-8, six points, five rebounds). Speaking of bloodlines, among Albano's top newcomers is 6-4 freshman center Mindy Clark, whose seven-foot brother, Craig, played at Sonora two years ago and is now at San Jose State.

Sunny Hills: 2-20, 1-9 in 1995-96. Coach: Marty Perez (second year, 2-20). Prospects: Perez wants to believe that, despite having another young team, the Lancers can challenge for the league title. "At the least we may surprise people," said Perez, who has seven returning players. To do so, senior guard Cheryl Galbin (5-7, 14 points) will have to carry the team until other players step forward. High on Perez's list to be good are two juniors, guard Jenny Chen (four points, five assists) and forward Julie Bai (5-7, six points, three assists).

Troy: 17-7, 9-1 in 1995-96. Coach: Kevin Kiernan (first year). Prospects: Kiernan is used to success. At La Quinta he won five consecutive Garden Grove titles and a Division 4-A championship (in 1990). At Cypress College, he made over a women's team that had won eight games in three years and won 65 games in his four years. Troy, which has won five consecutive league titles, is loaded again despite losing talents like Janea Butler to graduation. Still around is six-foot junior guard Heidi Hardeman (16.8 points), a bona fide scorer. She'll be helped by sophomore center Alina Mamyluk (6-3), junior forward Sarah Spencer (6-0) and junior forward-center Allaria Haynes (6-1). The league title streak has a very good chance to reach six.

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