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STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS | NOTEBOOK

Ladycats Have Been Practicing 4 Years for This Moment

March 21, 1998|MARTIN HENDERSON and PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SACRAMENTO — Being a Ladycat can be a lot of hard work--even if it is rewarded by a night like Friday's and Brea Olinda's 51-32 victory over Redding Shasta.

"To win the state title our senior year means so much to us," said senior guard Erin Kelly, who scored 13 points and had five steals.

"We practice 11 out of 12 months, and practice on our own the other month. Brea is hard because we really don't have a normal life. We dedicate so much time to basketball and this program."

Jeri Costello, a junior, had this to say about Brea's first state title in four years after winning five in the previous six years:

"We wanted to put the gleam back in the little kids' eyes," she said, referring to the young girls in Brea who dream of growing up and being part of Ladycat tradition. "That gleam was fading."

Catherine Solorio spoke for everyone on the team.

"This moment," she said, "will never be taken away."

The title was Jeff Sink's first as Brea's coach.

"When you play basketball at Brea, it's often difficult to celebrate great moments," he said. "The expectations are so lofty. . . . The last three years, we lost in the state semis after great, great seasons.

"These seniors have won four straight section titles, four straight trips to the Southern California Regional finals and a state title, and this is the first season we're all going to walk away feeling like the dream has really come true."

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After Brea won its sixth state title, giving it three in Division III and now three in Division II, Sink was asked if he would move up to Division I next season.

"I've applied for a waiver to enter the NCAA tournament," Sink joked. "We have high expectations. Trust me, we will play [Harbor City] Narbonne along the way."

Narbonne is playing tonight for the Division I title. The Gauchos are ranked sixth nationally and second in the state. Brea is ranked 11th nationally, but first in the state.

The teams have already agreed to play Jan. 23, 1999, at Brea, with the 2000 rematch at Narbonne.

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It may not have seemed like it at the time, but Brea benefited from a game in which it struggled earlier in the playoffs.

Sink said Redding Shasta reminded him of "a taller, better Troy" team that led the Ladycats in the third quarter before Brea pulled away for a 52-37 victory in the Southern Section Division II-AA title game.

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Brea is expected to arrive at Ontario Airport about 1 p.m. on Southwest Airlines.

Santa Margarita is expected to arrive at LAX at 1:10 p.m., Southwest Flight 1013.

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Singing the national anthem before Santa Margarita's game against Santa Rosa Montgomery was Pam DeBusk, wife of the Eagles' coach.

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Santa Margarita will probably move up in the state's final overall rankings after Friday's victory. The Eagles jumped five spots, from 12th to No. 7 in this week's poll, published by Cal High Sports of Long Beach. Lakewood Artesia, Compton Dominguez and Vallejo were ranked ahead of the Eagles this week, but none of those three advanced to a state final.

The winner of tonight's game between No. 1 Los Angeles Westchester and No. 2 Alameda St. Joseph Division I final will likely be No. 1.

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Football center Jeff Hick of Laguna Hills was honored at a luncheon held here Friday as the boys' state Scholar Athlete of the Year. . . . According to Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley, who is in town for a two-day meeting of section commissioners, a hearing will be held Monday morning at the Southern Section office in Cerritos to rule on the validity of a complaint filed by Corona del Mar High regarding the releaguing stalemate in Orange County.

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