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Royal Provides Coach With Pleasant Preview


VALENCIA — Mike Kohl, girls' basketball coach at Royal High, is an optimist. He must be to believe the notions he was selling Wednesday.

"I love my team," Kohl said. "This may be hard to believe, but we have a pretty good chance of being better than last year."

Better than co-champions of the Marmonte League? Better than making the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division I-A? Better than 25-4 with only two returning starters?

Judging by the first 14 minutes of a first-round game between Royal and Saugus in the Santa Clarita Shootout at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, the Highlanders would be hard-pressed to make the playoffs, period.

But . . . 14 minutes does not a basketball game make.

Royal made up for its shortcomings in the first half--and helped Kohl keep his sanity--by finishing strong for a 47-22 victory over Saugus, avenging a loss to the Centurions last week.

Playing without forward Teresa Russell--who averaged 14.3 rebounds last season and is playing with a club team this summer--Royal's experience was limited to forward Kristen Galbreath, who started slowly but scored 17 points.

Once Galbreath found her scoring stroke, the Royal team Kohl is so excited about began to emerge.

The Highlanders, who will play North Hollywood today at 3:30 in a second-round game, managed only two points in the first 14 minutes and trailed, 10-2.

No reason to panic. It's simply par for summer play, said Kohl, who had a bench 18 players deep. While several starters are playing other sports or basketball with club teams, junior varsity players fill out the squad.

"I never have any continuity [in summer games]," Kohl said. "The chemistry thing at the beginning of the games is the problem."

Bad chemistry contributed to five-of-23 shooting and 11 turnovers in the first half. But it wasn't all bad.

Galbreath, the team's second-leading scorer last year at 12 points a game, reeled off nine of Royal's final 11 points in the first half to produce a 13-10 lead.

The scoring surge carried over into the second half when Royal made five of its first eight shots and used a 15-0 run to build a 33-13 lead.

Melissa Cruz, a reserve last season, scored her 14 points in the second half.

Lexi Phelps scored 11 points for Saugus.

Santa Paula 34, Valencia 33--Amanda Nichols' layup with 13 seconds left gave the Cardinals the victory. Emilie Dearborn of Valencia drove to the basket but was called for an offensive foul with two seconds remaining.

Canyon 49, Paraclete 38--Janette Garcia scored 19 points for Canyon. Christine Lambert led Paraclete with 14 points.

Notre Dame 51, Burbank 33--Sierra Hauser-Price scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half for Notre Dame.

Carolyn Ovsepyan had 14 for Burbank.

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