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2000-01 GIRLS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Empire League

November 28, 2000

Century

Coach: Jeff Watts

1999-2000 record: 23-5

League record: 10-0

The Centurions have two three-year starters off the squad that beat Capistrano Valley in the playoffs: guard/forward Elizabeth Mendoza (Sr., 5-10), who averaged 13 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, and forward Charlenda Van Buren (Sr., 5-9), who averaged 12.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. Maria Orozco (Jr., 5-1) is the other letterman. Century won its fourth Empire League title in five years for Coach Jeff Watts (11th year, 161-91) last season. Team depth will have Watts walking on eggshells; Century can't afford an injury to any of its three returning players.

Cypress

Coach: Doug Mitchell

1999-2000 record: 15-11

League record: 7-3

Though Century and El Dorado have dominated the league in recent seasons, Cypress shouldn't be counted out of the race. Doug Mitchell (sixth year, 67-62) has three returning starters: guard Remy Hitomi (Sr., 5-5), a first-team all-league guard who averaged 4.2 assists, and forwards Kristy Schmitz (Jr., 5-10, 6.4 rebounds) and Tricia Culley (Jr., 5-9, 8.3 rebounds). Their play will be critical because Cypress doesn't have a dependable outside game; it will have to be tough defensively and strong on the boards.

El Dorado

Coach: Wayne Carlson

1999-2000 record: 15-12

League record: 6-4

The Golden Hawks broke up Century's run of league titles in 1998, and Wayne Carlson (fifth year, 75-34) might have the team to do it again. Guards Melissa Jacob (Jr., 5-9, 12.5 points), Nicole Gerber (Jr., 5-8, 9.8 points) and Smadar Bezalel (Sr., 5-6, 7.7 points) are the returning starters, and forward Carly Wade (Sr., 6-1) was a starter two years ago but missed last season with a knee injury. Junior guard Kim Gerber (5-9) also returns. Three sophomores who were on the 23-0 freshman team get a shot at varsity--Allison Wulff (5-11), Rianne Hall (5-10) and Heather McVay (5-10)--as does junior varsity MVP Lindsay Pulcher (Jr., 5-11).

Katella

Coach: Pete Sanchez

1999-2000 record: 7-16

League record: 3-7

Pete Sanchez takes over for Marshall Schuler (two years, 11-31). The Knights' up-tempo style must be executed by a squad that has to shoot well to succeed. Seniors Jae Jefferson (10 points) and Cortney Stafford (eight points) return, and junior Lorena Huerta is a legitimate outside threat. Sophomores Kaylee Barr (5-11) and Krista Stinson (5-10) are good athletes.

Kennedy

Coach: Dave Jankowski

1999-2000 record: 14-13

League record: 3-7

Kennedy won't be lacking experience at the guard position with three-year starters Jessalyn Calumpong (Jr., 5-0) and Lesley Mason (Sr., 5-8). Another guard, Nicole Doi (Sr., 5-8), started as a sophomore. That experience has to help this team, which was devastated last season by injuries. Dave Jankowski (third year, 21-32) should be happy with his team's perimeter shooting, but it must overcome a lack of height.

Loara

Coach: Shelly Noble

1999-2000 record: 11-15

League record: 1-9

The Saxons struggled last season with a young team under Shelly Noble (fifth year, 52-53), but the benefits could be coming this season with four returning starters. Guard Vivi Mai (Sr., 5-5) averaged 13 points and four rebounds and leads the group, along with Erin Schenk (Jr., 5-6, two points, two rebounds), Mina Yamazaki (Soph., 5-4, eight points) and Katie Joosten (Jr., 5-6, four points). A nonstarter, Tracy Hall (Jr., 5-7, four points, three rebounds) should also be a valuable contributor.

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