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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Rematch

Sharing Between Harvard-Westlake and Alemany Will Conclude Tonight

March 14, 1998|DAVE DESMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For two seasons, they have shared Mission League championships, mutual admiration and roads to the summit of girls' basketball in Southern California.

But sharing will not be an option tonight at 6, when Alemany High and Harvard-Westlake meet at the Pyramid in Long Beach for the Division III Southern Regional championship.

"We're really happy to be facing Alemany again," said Harvard-Westlake forward L'Tanya Robnett, whose team split two games with the Indians for the second consecutive season. "We know we can beat them if we play like we [have recently]."

Harvard-Westlake (28-5), Southern Section Division III-A champion, has won nine consecutive games and is enjoying its best season in the program's seven-year history.

Alemany (26-6), Southern Section Division III-AA champion, has dominated the Mission League during the 1990s, and claimed its sixth consecutive league title this season.

Harvard-Westlake has challenged that dominance over the past two seasons--the Wolverines are 49-13 overall compared to Alemany's 50-12 mark.

A Wolverine victory tonight would not only even those records, but also avenge Harvard-Westlake's worst loss of the season, 73-53 to the Indians on Feb. 6.

"I think there are different viewpoints on this game," said Alemany Coach Melissa Hearlihy, who enters the game with 298 victories in her 13-year career. "To us, this is more a game of wanting to beat them to get a shot at state. With them, I get the impression that it's about beating us after we [beat them] the last time."

Each team has only one senior in its starting lineup, Alemany's Kelli Kobayashi and Harvard-Westlake's Corrie Roberts, making their respective marches through the postseason improbable.

"The state [tournament] is just blowing my mind," said Karina Siam, Alemany's freshman center. "I didn't really know what to expect. . . Every game is the same amount of pressure."

With high-scoring All-Southern Section guards Kobayashi and Kate Beckler, top-seeded Alemany has its best chance of advancing to the state final.

In two previous trips to the regional final, the Indians fell to Bishop Montgomery in 1992 and Woodbridge in '94.

Second-seeded Harvard-Westlake has not advanced beyond the second round of the section playoffs until this season.

"The most satisfying thing is that we wanted to get to this level together, as a team, and we have accomplished that," Wolverine forward Omelogo Udeze said.

The winner of the regional will advance to the state championship game March 21 at 1:15 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep of San Francisco faces Acalanes of Lafayette tonight for the Northern Regional championship at Delta College in Stockton.

The last team from the Valley/Ventura area to win a regional title was Newbury Park in 1995. Buena was the last team from the area to win a state title, capturing the Division I crown in 1983-84.

Neither previous meeting between Alemany and Harvard-Westlake has been close.

The Wolverines led by as many as 20 during a 59-45 rout of Alemany on Jan. 13 at Harvard-Westlake. The Indians returned the favor with the romp on their home court, L.A. Baptist High.

There were few highlights during that Feb. 6 game for Udeze and Brooke Porter, two of Harvard-Westlake's key players.

"That's a safe thing to say," said Udeze, the Wolverines' leading scorer, who was shut out by the Indians.

Porter, the Wolverines' player of the game in last week's section championship victory over Morningside, also was shut out against Alemany.

Throughout the postseason, Harvard-Westlake Coach Brian Taylor has pointed to the Alemany loss as a turning point in his team's season.

"We were hoping to get another chance to play Alemany," he said after Tuesday night's regional semifinal victory over Morningside. "But [a rematch] wasn't even spoken about until today."

Said Hearlihy: "We're excited to be playing them too. How can we not be? We're in a regional final."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SOUTHERN REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

* WHO: Alemany (26-6) vs. Harvard-Westlake (28-5)

* WHAT: Division III championship game of the state basketball tournament's Southern Regional. Winner advances to state final March 21 at 1:15 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento against Northern Regional champion.

* WHEN: Today, 6 p.m.

* WHERE: The Pyramid at Long Beach State

* DIRECTIONS: 405 South to Bellflower Blvd. South on Bellflower to Atherton St. East on Atherton. Pyramid is visible from street.

* TICKETS: $7 for adults; $4 for students and children under 12.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

ALEMANY (26-6)

Roster

*--*

No. Player, Yr. Pos. 3 Nyasha Bralock, Fr. F 10 Debbie Borra, Jr. G 11 Nicole Klosterman, Jr. F 12 Kelli Kobayashi, Sr. G 14 Kate Beckler, So. G 15 Amy Lowe, So. G 20 Alma Sandoval, So. G 23 Julie Mullins, So. G 33 Monica Brown, Sr. C 34 Karina Siam, Fr. F/C 42 Danielle Messiha, Jr. C 54 Anna Karas, Jr. C/F

*--*

Coach: Melissa Hearlihy

Assistants: Tim Taufaasau, Dr. Stewart Balikov

Season Review

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