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PREVIEW

Buena Gets Another Chance to Take Care of No. 1 Ranking

November 26, 2000|DAVE DESMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — It wouldn't be a girls' basketball season if Buena High didn't begin as the region's No. 1 team.

It is loaded again and ready for another run into the Southern Section Division I playoffs.

No other team in the region, and a precious few in the nation, can boast a more talented threesome than Courtney Young, Kelly Greathouse and Courtney LaVere.

Young, a guard, committed to Tennessee and Greathouse, a forward, signed with North Carolina State, Division I colleges with national championship banners hanging in their arenas.

Next season, LaVere, a junior center, will likely have her choice of college powers.

But two days before their season opener at Agoura, the Bulldogs are some hurting pups.

Greathouse will miss the opener while she gets fitted for a brace to protect an injured left knee.

LaVere is receiving regular therapy for an injured right knee and has not fully recovered from a bout with mononucleosis last season.

Young has stretched ligaments in her right shoulder that will require surgery after the season.

Point guard Emily Lewis had knee surgery on torn meniscus.

During one practice last week, there were only seven players dressed for practice.

Guard Lauren Sargent, the fifth returning starter, is the only one with a clean bill of health.

"We're behind and it's very frustrating," Coach Joe Vaughan said. "When we're healthy, we're going to be very good."

Several publications agree, ranking Buena anywhere from sixth (Highwired Sports) to 19th (USA Today) in the nation.

The Bulldogs are trying to ignore the hype and the always high expectations.

They entered last season ranked seventh in the nation, then lost a school-record six games, including two to rival Ventura, and fell in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division I-A playoffs.

"That proves [the rankings] don't mean anything at all," said Young, who averaged 15.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 steals as a junior.

Said Greathouse: "We have to earn it. We shouldn't pay attention to the rankings and just go out and play the way we're capable of."

Forget that three of the losses were to nationally ranked teams, or that Buena took a share of its 12th consecutive Channel League title.

The 22-6 season was a disappointment and a tremendous motivation to make amends this year.

"We're excited about this season," said LaVere, who averaged 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots. "We want to prove we're a good team after letting everybody down last year. We want to make it up to them."

Buena will again face a tough schedule, beginning with Agoura, ranked fifth in the region by The Times. Next week, the Bulldogs host a tournament that will include No. 2 Newbury Park, No. 4 Ventura and No. 8 Hart.

They will host No. 3 Harvard-Westlake on Jan. 13 and Harbor City Narbonne, defending national champion, on Feb. 3 in nonleague games, and play in the Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara next month.

Greathouse, league co-player of the year after averaging 21 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots, and Young are listed on several preseason All-American teams and LaVere's name appears on many national lists of top juniors.

But Buena's roster runs deep, when healthy.

Tiana Hatter, a 5-10 forward and the only other returning varsity player, is healthy after sitting out last season because of a knee injury.

Sophomores Tisha Duran, Amy Glassman and Shannon Antunez, and junior Sarah Evans played on freshman and junior varsity teams that posted a combined 38-2 record and won league titles. The only losses were suffered by the junior varsity in a varsity tournament.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Girls' Basketball Top 10

Preseason rankings of Valley and Ventura County high schools by sportswriters of The Times.

*--*

Rk Team ('99-'00 Record) Comment 1. Buena (22-6) Three Division I players 2. Newbury Park (24-5) Quick all-around team 3. Harvard-Westlake (22-9) Alemany South loaded and ready 4. Ventura (25-2) Best three-point team in region 5. Agoura (17-12) Jennifer Lacy's season to shine 6. Oxnard (22-7) Still defensive-minded, still tough 7. Antelope Valley (21-5) Four starters back for Golden League champions 8. Hart (12-14) Last season was fluke for traditional power 9. Taft (15-7) Transfer Christina Aguinaga puts them over the top 10. Chatsworth (20-6) Last area City team standing last season

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