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BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS PREVIEW | GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Woodbridge Still Playing Perfectly

February 13, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON

This isn't the first time Woodbridge has gone into the Southern Section girls' basketball playoffs undefeated. The Warriors did the same thing in 1994, and didn't lose until the state championship game, finishing 34-1.

If Woodbridge (26-0), seeded No. 4 in Division I-A, is to follow those same footsteps, it will probably face another undefeated team in the section semifinals, Ventura Buena, the state's top-ranked team.

One thing is certain: The Warriors won't be caught looking ahead.

"We not only take it one game at a time, but we take it one practice at a time," forward Lara Gray said. "We're only looking to the next hour.

"We're starting [the playoffs] as though we haven't won one game. For CIF, it's totally different. Leave what happened in the regular season behind."

Here are some other notable bits from the brackets:

Division I-AAA--Second-seeded Esperanza is one of the more balanced teams in the division. Any number of players can have a big night, though recently, center Bethany Blair has begun exerting herself. One other thing: the Aztecs pass the ball as well as they play defense. . . . Los Alamitos wondered if it would even make the playoffs, but the Griffins have a weapon few teams can match--a 6-foot-5 center, Lindsay Geoffroy.

Division I-AA--For the first time, there will be three Division I champions instead of two. "In 15 years, I've never seen my team's name right there," said San Clemente Coach Mary Mulligan, pointing to the No. 1 position on the bracket. "I love expansion." . . . When Santa Ana Valley clinched its first league title one week ago, it was on Coach Nicole Quinn's 26th birthday. Last season, the Falcons won a playoff game for the first time. "The school has never won anything like this," she said. "People are looking at Valley in a different way."

Division I-A--The scouting report on Buena is that if it is to be beaten, it will be with guard play. . . . Some of the best guards in the tournament are at second-seeded Troy. Veronica Johns-Richardson has been spectacular the last month, and Alicia Komaki has been one of the Warriors' most consistent players.

Division II-AA--Santa Margarita twice defeated Rosary, a team that matches up similarly to division favorite Brea Olinda. "If you don't shoot well, you're going to lose," Rosary Coach Rich Yoon said. "Santa Margarita is huge inside and they have great composure." Kristen Lynch, Santa Margarita's oft-overlooked point guard, "is the key to their success," Yoon said. . . . Other dark-horse candidates are Sonora, which has one of the division's outstanding offensive players in Brandi Davis, and Laguna Hills, which features Megan Aaker and a tough zone defense. They face each other in the first round.

Division II-A--Top-seeded Artesia is led by 6-3 sophomore Lauren Ervin (19 points, 13 rebounds), one of two transfers from Torrance Bishop Montgomery, a team that won the Division III state title last year. Artesia lost to Harbor City Narbonne, 58-56.

Division III-AA--Rosary had matchup problems without center Hayley Munroe in the lineup because of off-season knee surgery. She played sparingly, beginning in the second round of league play. "She still needs a couple of weeks," Yoon said. "I can't play her as much as I want to. And sometimes, she can't do anything." . . . . Potential dark horses include Corona del Mar, which is healthy again after a midseason slump.

Division IV-AA--Based on last week's rankings, six of the section's top 10 teams are in the bracket's upper half, including Orange Lutheran.

Division IV-A--Critical to Calvary Chapel's success was the unheralded play of point guard Ashley Nelson. But on a team that had a lot of contributors but no individual stars, junior Lindsey Richelli was especially consistent, averaging 11 points, 7.5 rebounds and more than three blocks.

Division V-AA--Capistrano Valley Christian could be ready to spring an upset or two. It lost last week by only three points to fourth-seeded Downey Calvary Chapel, 56-53.

Division V-A--If Liberty Christian wins its first-round game, it will play top-seeded Los Angeles Pilgrim.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GIRLS' BASKETBALL TOP 10

Final Orange County Sportswriters' Poll

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Pos. School (League) Rec 1. Esperanza (Sunset) 23-4 2. Brea Olinda (Orange) 21-4 3. San Clemente (South Coast) 23-3 4. Troy (Freeway) 23-4 5. Woodbridge (Sea View) 26-0 6. Irvine (Sea View) 20-6 7. Santa Margarita (Serra) 19-7 8. Rosary (Serra) 20-7 9. Huntington Beach (Sunset) 15-12 10. Westminster (Golden West) 20-5

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