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1996-97 GIRLS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Olympic League

December 10, 1996|WENDY WITHERSPOON

Brethren Christian: 17-9, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Kim Harris (fourth year, 29-38). Prospects: The Warriors return five starters from a team that finished in second place in league last season and advanced to the second round of the Division IV-A tournament. Returning all-league players are: 6-foot-4 center Rachael MacDonald (11 points, 10 rebounds), forward Cindy Oparah (5-11, 10 points, 11 rebounds) and 5-8 guards Melissa McDaniel and Ann-Marie Harbour. Guard Natasha Saran (5-8) is the other returning starter. The Warriors should challenge Valley Christian for the league title.

Calvary Chapel: 10-12, 4-6 in 1995-96. Coach: Russell McClurg (third year, 16-27). Prospects: The Eagles struggled with a young team last season but with five returning starters they have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 1994. They will be led by first-team all-league selection Christy Ring, a 5-4 junior point guard (17.1 points). The Eagles also return senior guard Whitney Hoover (5-6, 13.2 points), a second-team all-league selection. T.J. Gause, a 5-6 sophomore guard, and Jackie Serna, a 5-4 junior guard, also were members of the Eagle volleyball team. Other returning starters are: senior guard Janelle McConnell (5-6), junior forward Aundrea Fountain (5-9), and sophomore Leslie Morton (5-10).

Cerritos Valley Christian: 31-1, 10-0 in 1995-96. Coach: Eleanor Dykstra (26th year, 463-90). Prospects: Valley Christian won its fifth consecutive Southern Section title last year with a 62-33 victory over Sun Valley Village Christian in the Division IV-A final, then lost in the state Division IV final to Moraga Campolindo for the second consecutive year. The Eagles have almost an entirely new team but again are the preseason league favorites. The returning starters are center Tandee Taylor (6-2), and guard Monique Toney. Both were first-team all-league selections last season. Marcene Guerrero, a 5-8 sophomore guard, has the daunting task of replacing USC's Kiyoko Miller, the Olympic League most valuable player last season. Christy VandenAkker, a 5-8 junior, and Sarah Middlebrooke, a 5-10 junior from Brea Olinda, will take over for graduated, all-league selections Crystal Rosenthal and Akilah Veasley. Other key players will be Laurie Hinson, a 5-10 junior forward/center who transferred from Brea, Lori Negen, a 5-8 sophomore guard, and Kelly Malley, a 5-6 junior guard.

Ontario Christian: 7-15, 1-9 in 1995-96. Coach: Barry Tyler (fourth year, 34-37). Prospects: The Knights return five players who had significant playing time last season, including senior point guard Annie Musser (11.5 points), and her sister, sophomore guard Mary Musser (4.5 points). Other returning seniors are: guard Bev Fiske, center Becky Stagner (6-0), and forward Melissa Voortman.

Orange Lutheran: 15-9, 6-4 in 1995-96. Coach: Mark Kempf (sixth year, 67-49). Prospects: The Lancers finished in third place in league last year and advanced to the second round of the Division IV-A playoffs. They will miss first-team all-league selections Liz Pappas and Amy Howard. The Lancers return two starters: Vanessa Kutschat, a 5-11 senior forward, and Polly Castanis, a 5-7 senior guard. They also return all-league guard Sheri Harako.

Whittier Christian: 3-17, 1-9 in 1995-96. Coach: Tom Conrad (first year). Prospects: The Heralds were rebuilding last season and Conrad will continue the process. All-league center Leah Borders has transferred to Santa Fe Springs St. Paul this season. Senior Melissa Blank and junior April Guzman return.

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