When the final chapter is written on the 1997 Foothill League girls' basketball season and Hart High is declared champion, one can point to Chapter One for answers.
The championship could boil down to two coaching decisions:
* Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol says he will not reinstate standout center Teroya Roberson if she regains athletic eligibility by improving her grades. The team's chances to unseat defending champion Hart are diminished without Roberson, a 6-foot-3 junior who averaged 17 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocks in the first five games.
* Hart Coach Dave Munroe agreed to switch practice times with the school's boys' team to accommodate forward Candace Boller, the league's most valuable player last year. Boller, headed to Loyola Marymount on a volleyball scholarship, quit the basketball team before the season because the practice time conflicted with that of her club volleyball team.
When Hart's new $4.8-million gymnasium opened, meaning the school no longer had to share the Valencia High gym, Hart's basketball teams had the flexibility to change their schedules.
"Candace is here forever now," Munroe said.
With Boller back, Hart (9-5) is richer by an average of 24 points and 10 rebounds, making it the clear favorite to win its seventh league title in eight seasons. Hart and Burroughs (9-5) have finished one-two in each of the past four seasons.
The outcome should be the same in '97.
"We'd like a lot more competition, and Burroughs is the only team that has provided it," Munroe said. "I'd like to see both teams at full strength and healthy."
That wish won't come true.
Nicol is taking a hard line with Roberson, who was declared ineligible Dec. 16 but could be reinstated by the end of this month when the Burbank Unified School District's five-week grading period is completed.
Nicol remains steadfast despite potentially awkward circumstances. He lives on the same street as Roberson, three houses down.
"I'm good friends with her mom," Nicol said. "She thought we gave her too many chances."
Boller, meanwhile, is glad to have a second chance at Hart.
"A lot of people did a lot of things to make it work out for me," she said. "I love basketball and I missed it. It was hard not being out there."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
AT A GLANCE
* THE PROVEN: Saugus senior forwards Elizabeth Grey and Erika Lilley are averaging 12.9 and 10 points and 11.7 and 9.6 rebounds. Hart senior forward Candace Boller is the returning league most valuable player and its most dominant player.
* THE PROMISING: Hart junior forward Melissa Harrison is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds. Burroughs juniors Chantel Jimenez, a guard, and JoAnna Garrick, a center, are scoring threats. Canyon senior forward Valerie Wiggins and junior guard Inga Lin are seasoned players. Hart senior guards Amanda Hoaglund and Jelene Daney are all-league caliber.
* FAST FACT: Hart has a .729 winning percentage in eight seasons under Coach Dave Munroe.