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Garrett Adds Some Spice to Crescenta Valley Attack

Pacific girls: Falcons hope talented sophomore can make the difference in run for section title.

January 09, 1998|DAVE DESMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sinnamonn Garrett doesn't mind waiting until Michelle Greco graduates before basking in the spotlight of one of the region's most prominent girls' basketball programs.

Until then, she'll just continue to light things up as one of the best supporting characters around.

"I can't think about next year," said Garrett, a sophomore forward for Crescenta Valley High, ranked No. 1 in the region by The Times. "I still have to focus on this year and improving my game."

Her game is considerable.

The 5-foot-10 Garrett is averaging 13 points and a team-best 9.8 rebounds for the Falcons (10-1), who host Pasadena tonight in a Pacific League opener.

Rival coaches have all but conceded the league title to the Falcons, in part because of the talented trio--UCLA-bound Greco, All-Southern Section guard Tara Gregory and Garrett--nicknamed "G-Force."

But Crescenta Valley and first-year Coach Damian Scribner want much more than a league championship.

With Garrett as the first player off the bench, the Falcons advanced to the 1996-97 Southern Section Division I-A championship game, where they lost to Buena.

Now in Division I-AA, the Falcons would consider anything short of a berth in the final unacceptable.

Crescenta Valley's chances for its first section girls' basketball title have been greatly enhanced by the off-season improvement of Garrett, who averaged 7.3 points and eight rebounds as a freshman.

"She's improved 100 percent since last year," Scribner said. "Her mentality and how she approaches the game have grown incredibly. It's like having a Greco Junior."

Garrett and sophomore starting guard Kristie Umemoto will be the cornerstones of the program next season, but that isn't why Scribner is promoting his young player.

Opposing coaches agree with Scribner's evaluation of Garrett's importance.

"She looks very impressive this year," Glendale Coach Jerry Mike said. "She's gotten a lot stronger and added a lot of offense to her game. She's definitely a handful."

Said Garrett: "It's a great compliment to go out and play when other people know who you are and gear their games toward you. I'm up for the challenge.."

Glendale may be the closest thing to a challenger for Crescenta Valley's crown.

The Dynamiters (9-6) have played inconsistently, but are the only other Pacific League team with a winning record.

Muir, second to the Falcons in 1996-97 before capturing the Division III-A championship, is 5-7 and rebuilding after losing four starters to graduation.

Hoover has shown marked improvement under first-year Coach Jenny Cervantez. Sophomore Tenie Hartounian is averaging a team-high 12.5 points for the Tornadoes (5-6), who won only six games last season.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

AT A GLANCE

* THE PROVEN: Crescenta Valley has the three best players in UCLA-bound All-American Michelle Greco, All-Southern Section guard Tara Gregory and sophomore forward Sinnamonn Garrett, a trio the Falcons call "G-Force." Senior guard Alina Markari averaged 11.5 points per game for Glendale last season. Dynamiter teammate Pola Aghakhanians is back after averaging more than three steals, while Mania Houspian has switched to point guard. Junior guard Janice Polk and junior Monique Jones are key returners for Pasadena. Senior forward Narineh Tatoussian and sophomore point guard Razan Ezzeddin have helped Hoover (5-6) to its best start in several seasons.

* THE PROMISING: Sophomore guard Tenie Hartounian is leading Hoover in scoring this season. The emergence of shooting guard Kristie Umemoto has made Crescenta Valley even more dangerous. Sophomore forward Ariel Towns of Pasadena has looked good during the nonleague season. Sophomore Hilary Driffill is averaging 8.5 rebounds for Glendale. Muir is replacing four starters from last season's league runner-up team.

* FAST FACT: The Pacific was one of two area leagues to send two teams to section finals last season. Crescenta Valley advanced to the Division I-A championship, while Muir captured the Division III-A title.

* 1996-97 STANDINGS: 1. Crescenta Valley 29-4 overall, 10-0 in league play; 2. Muir 23-8, 8-2; 3. Glendale 14-9, 5-5; 4. Pasadena 13-14, 4-6; 5. Hoover 6-13, 4-8; 6. Arcadia 5-20, 1-9.

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