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Girls: Despite expected power shifts, Harbor City Narbonne continues to set the standard.

November 30, 2000|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Several schools had breakthrough seasons in 1999-2000, slightly altering the landscape of girls' basketball in the Southland.

More power shifts are likely this season with the transfer of several high-profile players and the arrival of freshmen who will contribute immediately.

But Harbor City Narbonne remains the team to beat.

Here is a look at 10 teams to watch:

1. HARBOR CITY NARBONNE

The Lady Gauchos finished last season by winning the Division I state title and the mythical national championship.

Forward Ebony Hoffman, a four-year stalwart, is now at USC, but Narbonne still has some of the top players in the state.

Point guard Loree Moore made last season's state tournament her personal showcase, and she figures to be even more dominant this season as the team's only senior. Junior Lisa Willis is a dead-eye shooter from three-point range, Jamie Funn and Indi Johnson are 6-foot sophomores and freshman Camille Lenoir will spell Moore at the point.

"Last year's team was good because the players rebounded and played excellent defense," Narbonne Coach James Anderson said. "If these kids can do that, we'll make a run. If we don't rebound, we'll be tested in the state playoffs."

2. VENTURA BUENA

The Bulldogs have three top seniors in Tennessee-bound guard Courtney Young, North Carolina State-bound forward Kelly Greathouse and junior center Courtney LaVere.

But the trio opens the season nursing injuries.

Greathouse and LaVere have knee problems, and Young has stretched ligaments in her right shoulder.

3. LAKEWOOD ARTESIA

The Pioneers get this much attention based on the arrival of sophomore center Lauren Ervin and guard Brittney Thomas, who transferred from defending Division III champion Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

Ervin scored 18 points and had 15 rebounds for Bishop Montgomery in the state final against Petaluma, helping the school win its third title in five years.

4. FULLERTON TROY

Veronica Johns-Richardson, who will attend Colorado, averaged 18 points a game last season and is the top player for Orange County's top team.

Alicia Kamaki is an outstanding three-point shooter and Kianey Givens-Davis is a top defender.

5. LYNWOOD

Lynwood has more young talent than any team in the Southland with freshmen Sadie Wiley-Gatewood, Brittney Shephard and Lorie Rayford.

The Knights can make a major statement Saturday against Narbonne.

6. CHINO HILLS AYALA

The Bulldogs lost Candice Allen and two other marquee players from a team that reached the Southern Section I-AA semifinals last season before losing to eventual champion Long Beach Wilson.

But junior 6-footers Kia Riley and Brittany Sieger and sophomore Dominique Burke lead a smart, balanced team.

7. LONG BEACH POLY

The Jackrabbits play a high-speed game with seniors Brandy McGinest and Raiber Victor and junior Aja Trotter setting the pace.

Poly will be challenged in the Moore League by defending I-AA champion Long Beach Wilson.

8. REDONDO UNION

Redondo had a breakthrough season in 1999-2000, defeating Brea Olinda for the Southern Section II-AA title.

That success should continue with the return of Ofa Tulikihihifo, Jackie Packard and Jasmin Arjasbi to lead the way for the Seahawks.

9. PASADENA MUIR

Seniors Tyesha Fluker and Markiesha Russu are the top players for the Mustangs, who will contend for a division championship and possibly more.

10. TORRANCE BISHOP MONTGOMERY

Even without Ervin and Thomas, the Knights are formidable because they still have sophomore Noelle Quinn and freshman Nykia Peace, among others.

Others to watch: Riverside North, Anaheim Esperanza, San Clemente, Moreno Valley, St. Bernard, Brea Olinda.

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