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1996-97 GIRLS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Sunset League

December 10, 1996|MARTIN HENDERSON

Edison: 22-8, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Dave White (10th year, 186-63). Prospects: No upper-echelon team will be affected more by the loss of one player than Edison will be by the departure of Marie Philman (UCLA, 21.7 points, 9.6 rebounds), who played the primary role in getting the Chargers to the Division I-A semifinals. The lone returning starter is guard Shauna Steward (6 points, 2 assists, 2 steals). Sophomore forward Christina Patterson (5-9) was the first player off the bench, and center Jenny Shutt (6-0) averaged 4 rebounds. Two guards, junior Erica Harrison and sophomore Melanie Cherney, were JV most valuable players, and 6-0 freshman center Michelle Zylstra could emerge as a force.

Esperanza: 18-8, 4-6 in 1995-96. Coach: Marc Hill (15th year, 225-130). Prospects: The Aztecs, with only one senior on the team, look for their first league title since 1990, and appear to have the lineup to give it a run. They are led by junior center Leah Combs (6-2, 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds), junior guard Heidi Hill (6.2 points, 4.1 assists) and sophomore point guard Kim Omer (3.7 points, 2.1 assists). If the Aztecs are vulnerable, it's their outside shooting and lack of depth at post; besides Combs, only junior Deondra Verhoeven, up from the JV, reaches 6-0. Still, depth at guard, experience and inside play make the Aztecs one of the county's tougher teams.

Fountain Valley: 25-5, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Carol Strausburg (20th year, 332-21-4). Prospects: No team took a bigger hit to graduation than the Barons, who lost two Division I players, Jennifer Ludwicki (Washington State, 21.4 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Nicole Strange (Oregon, 15.3 points, 9.4 rebounds). The only starter back is guard Jenny Nakano, but there are seven who played, including junior center Kelly Boeke (6-1) and guard Jocelyn Tu. Nakano and Tu are three-point threats.

Huntington Beach: 11-15, 1-9 in 1995-96. Coach: Bill Thomson (second year, 11-15). Prospects: The Oilers have five players back who started at least 15 games, including Phouangmaly Pravongviengkham (12.5 points, 3 assists) and center Stephanie Draeger (5-9, 7.5 rebounds). Guard Megan Masuda is a team captain, despite being a sophomore. Junior forwards Erica Waetjen (5-9) and Kelly Medlen (5-9) round out the starting five, though Huntington Beach is likely to try to run teams into the ground again with 10 players; despite their smallish overall size, the Oilers could shoot the lights out.

Los Alamitos: 10-14, 1-9 in 1995-96. Coach: Mike Ford (seventh year, 49-94). Prospects: Rebounding won't be a problem for the Griffins, who have junior Kristin Geoffroy (6-5, 10 points, 7 rebounds) returning with fellow starter Christa Ellis (5-11, 8 points, 8.5 rebounds), Molly Avery (5-11) and Jilynn Smith (6-1), who shot 52% from the field. Though Los Alamitos might exhibit a strong defense, it doesn't have a three-point shooter or a proven dominant scorer. The Griffins have five players 5-11 or taller and two 5-9 guards.

Marina: 22-5, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Pete Bonny (seventh year, 152-41). Prospects: The Vikings might be the best example of what it takes to be successful in girls' basketball; teams with good guards win, and junior point guard Natalie Nakase, whose 8.0 assists led the county, and seniors Marisa Emde and Adria Sortino are among the best group in the county. They should be able to fast break and apply the pressure defense, but the inside play is mostly untested; senior forward Gina Cirivello (5-10) and sophomore forward Chanda McLeod (5-10) could play critical roles in the Vikings' ultimate success.

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