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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Alemany Sets Up an All-League Regional Final

March 13, 1998|LAUREN PETERSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTH HILLS — Wasco High's physical inside play succeeded in cramping Alemany's style Thursday night in a girls' Division III Southern Regional basketball semifinal.

But that was all it did as Alemany eventually pulled away for a 70-51 victory at the L.A. Baptist High gymnasium.

With the win, the top-seeded Indians (26-6) reserved a place in their third regional final in six trips to the state playoffs. Alemany will meet Mission League rival Harvard-Westlake at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Pyramid in Long Beach. The teams split their two regular-season games.

"In my four years, we've never been this far, so it's a great feeling to finally get there," Kelli Kobayashi, Alemany's star senior guard, said.

Wasco (24-6), the Central Section Division III champion, overcame a 10-point first-quarter deficit and stayed within six points of Alemany most of the game. But Kobayashi scored eight of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Indians pull away.

Consecutive baskets by Wasco's Christal Williams got the Tigers to within 54-48 with 5:30 to play. But Wasco, which was hurt by seven fourth-quarter turnovers, then went scoreless for more than three and a half minutes while Alemany went on a 10-0 run to expand its advantage to 64-48.

Kobayashi, who had 12 points each half, hit a three-point shot after making a steal and also made two free throws in the decisive spurt.

"We always kind of count on her in the clutch," Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy said. "She's a senior and we look to her to come through, and she did it tonight."

She had plenty of help. Danielle Messiha and Anna Karas, a pair of 5-foot-11 juniors, came off the bench to contribute mightily to Alemany's 13th consecutive victory. Neither player scored much, but their physical play helped counteract Wasco's strong inside game. Messiha grabbed five rebounds to go with her six points and Karas had five rebounds and four points.

Sophomore Kate Beckler had her usual strong game. She has seven steals, three rebounds and 19 points--just shy of her playoff average coming in, 24.4.

Wasco played Alemany almost even in the first half. Williams, who had 20 points and seven rebounds, and Vandy Nolden, who had 15 points, repeatedly scored by driving the baseline.

Traneia Patterson and Anthonia Washington helped give Wasco an edge in rebounding and at the half Alemany held only a 32-31 lead.

Nolden scored seven points in the third and the Tigers stayed close until three-point baskets by Beckler and Kobayashi and an inside shot by Messiha gave Alemany a 54-44 lead with 6:44 left.

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