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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | STATE BASKETBALL FINAL
NOTEBOOK

Alemany Assistant Comes Up With Ring Even After Defeat

March 22, 1998|DAVE DESMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SACRAMENTO — Whoever said "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride?"

It certainly wasn't the Alemany High girls' basketball team, which experienced both propositions Saturday.

Assistant coach Tim Taufaasau proposed to longtime girlfriend Kimberly Ristuccia hours after his players were made bridesmaids with a 67-54 loss to San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral in the state Division III final at Arco Arena.

Taufaasau, in his first season with the Indians, promised the team that he would pop the question if the Indians advanced to the state final.

"Ever since we qualified last week, they've been all over me," said Taufaasau, who called Ristuccia's parents on Thursday to ask for their daughter's hand.

Taufaasau, armed with the engagement ring his father had given his mother, asked the question in front of the entire team at a Sacramento restaurant. Ristuccia said yes.

"Saturday afternoon wasn't so good, but Saturday night has been fantastic," Taufaasau said.

Taufaasau said he was concerned about making the proposal after the Indians' loss.

"But when I got to the team van, I got the word from a couple of the new kids, 'You're still going to do it, right?' "

Kelli Kobayashi, the team's lone senior, then asked Taufaasau if the plan was still in order.

"When I said yes, she smiled and gave me a high five," he said. "It was like she was giving me her blessing."

*

Alemany, which shot only 19 percent last week in the Southern Regional final at the Pyramid in Long Beach, again struggled in a big arena.

The Indians made 17 of 52 shots (32%), a problem Coach Melissa Hearlihy partially attributed to depth perception in such large venues.

"When we build a gym, we need to build one as big as the Forum so we can shoot in these big arenas," she said.

Sacred Heart Cathedral's Crissy DeLuzio, who tied one Division III final record with 29 points and set another with 11 field goals, had no such problem.

"It didn't bother me at all," said DeLuzio, who made four three-point shots.

DeLuzio, who won a regional shooting competition at Arco Arena in the summer during halftime of a WNBA game, appeared very comfortable.

"It certainly looked like her house today," Hearlihy said.

*

Alemany had used a frantic full-court press to wear down opponents during the season, and figured Sacred Heart Cathedral and its eight-player roster would be winded in the second half.

"That's what we were banking on," Hearlihy said.

But, in an arena named after an oil company, it was the Indians who ran out of gas.

"Their adrenaline was pumped up and ours was gone," said guard Kate Beckler, whose Alemany team watched a 13-4 lead disintegrate into a 22-15 deficit.

"In a game like this, your adrenaline flows so much," Irish center Sarah Richen said. "We weren't going to go away. Not today."

*

Alemany's softball team, scheduled to play Rio Mesa on Saturday in the Simi Valley tournament, managed to postpone its game until Wednesday.

Coach Dudley Rooney, the school's athletic director, and Long Beach State-bound pitcher Kim Diener were among those in attendance.

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