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North Hollywood Is Not Going South Any Time Soon


The North Hollywood High girls' basketball team may be at the top of the heap, but there are others hoping to jump on the pile as the Huskies prepare to open Valley Pac-8 Conference play this week.

"The road goes through North Hollywood, there's no doubt," Grant Coach Steve Brumwell said. "No matter how well we do, if we lose to them, we're in no better than second place again.

"But things could be different this year, hopefully. Everything we do has been centered around trying to beat North Hollywood."

The Huskies have won 11 consecutive league titles, including the past five in the Valley Pac-8 Conference's Mid-Valley League, where they have won their last 47 games.

"We do expect it to go on," North Hollywood Coach Rich Allen said. "The players know they need to be prepared for every game, but they're really feeling this is their year."

Last year, North Hollywood went 22-4, including a 10-0 record in conference play, before losing in the second round of the City Section 4-A Division playoffs.

Poly won the East Valley League at 11-10, including an 8-2 mark in the conference, with Grant second to North Hollywood in the Mid-Valley League at 7-3 in conference play and 16-9 overall.

North Hollywood (14-1) returned four starters from last year's team, including All-City Section selection Tashean Thomas at guard and forward Markia Derby, both juniors.

Thomas was most valuable player of the Washington tournament.

Claudia Villa, a 5-foot-11 forward, was MVP in the Burroughs tournament, and the Huskies won both events.

"Our whole thing was, we were going to look at the big picture and the playoffs," Allen said. "The players know what's down the line."

Grant (11-3), featuring its front-line tandem of senior center Nakeisha Perkins and senior forward Angela Terry, is considered to have the best chance of knocking off North Hollywood.

Besides Perkins, the Grant career scoring and rebounding leader, and Terry, MVP of the San Fernando tournament, the Lancers have been helped by the development of sophomore guards Leslie Mui and Kathleen Mallon.

"If we catch [North Hollywood] on the right day, and we play our best, we could beat those guys," Brumwell said.

The feeling is much the same at Reseda (3-6), which has new Coach Mike Wagner and features junior point guard Ig Herrera and 5-10 junior forward Neisa Guerrero.

"I don't want to be too bold and cocky," Wagner said. "We could go anywhere from 8-2 to 4-6 [in conference play], depending on how we play."

Reseda will battle for supremacy in the East Valley League with Sylmar (4-5) and Poly (2-7).

Sylmar's hopes have been bolstered by transfers Veronica Ramos from Van Nuys High and sisters Michelle and Giselle Jimenez from Alemany.

Ramos, a shooting guard, averages 17 points a game. Giselle Jimenez, a 5-9 senior forward, averages 12.3 points per game, and Michelle Jimenez, a 5-11 junior center, averages 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots.

"We're starting to play well as a unit," Sylmar Coach Cody Carter said. "I think they're starting to see that there's more to it than just everybody making their own shots."

Poly won its first two games before losing seven in a row, but the Parrots will be looking to rebound behind sophomore twins Ciara and Quiana Jeffries.

Ciara averages 16.3 points, with Quiana at 15.0.

Senior center Jamie Jefferson averages 10.7 rebounds.

The start of conference play might not change things for Van Nuys (1-7), Monroe (0-5) and Canoga Park (0-6).

"It's going to be a real learning year for us," Monroe Coach Bryant Ching said.



* THE PROVEN: All-City guard Tashean Thomas not only leads North Hollywood in scoring but has developed into a defensive terror, averaging nearly six steals per game. Claudia Villa averages 10 points and nearly 10 rebounds for the Huskies. Sophomore twins Ciara and Quiana Jeffries are in their second season on the varsity for defending East Valley League champion Poly. Seniors Nakeisha Perkins and Angela Terry of Grant are strong inside. The Lancers also have experienced point guard Teresa Diaz, who set a school single-season assist record last year and is chasing the career mark. Neisa Guerrero, a 5-foot-10 junior forward, is Reseda's top rebounder and Coach Mike Wagner calls her and guard Ig Herrera the physical and spiritual leaders of the team. LaTaneka Henderson is a bright spot for Van Nuys.

* THE PROMISING: Richelle Sherman, a 5-11 freshman center, is getting on-the-job training while starting for North Hollywood. Junior forward Angelle Hill is becoming a valuable sixth man in relief of Husky starters Thomas and Markia Derby. Sophomore Elizabeth Hernandez and junior Vicki Ash were top players for Canoga Park's junior varsity last year and are being counted on to lift their play at the varsity level. Kiki Adams, a senior guard in her first year of organized basketball, leads Sylmar in steals with an average of 5.3 per game.

FAST FACT: North Hollywood, which enters the conference season riding a 47-game winning streak in Mid-Valley League play, has qualified for the playoffs 14 years in a row.

1996-97 STANDINGS: Mid-Valley League--1. North Hollywood 22-4 overall, 10-0 in conference play; 2. Grant 16-9, 7-3; 3. Monroe 9-12, 5-5; 4. Van Nuys 7-15, 3-7; East Valley League--1. Poly 11-10, 8-2; 2. Reseda 6-10, 4-6; 3. Sylmar 3-10, 3-7; 4. Canoga Park 0-16, 0-10.

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