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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Girls' Basketball League Preview

January 10, 2001

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Favorite: Buena. Kelly Greathouse, Courtney Young and Courtney LaVere might be better than any trio in the nation. That's why the Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in the country.

Contenders: With Buena in the league, there are none.

Longshots: Ventura is ranked No. 2 in the region but has already been routed by Buena in a tournament. The Cougars should finish second. Santa Barbara is probably the best of the rest, which includes Dos Pueblos and San Marcos.

Foothill

Favorite: Hart is getting better each week, finishing the break by winning the Simi Valley tournament.

Contenders: Valencia, Saugus, Canyon, Burroughs. Each has come up with big victories over quality teams and disappointing losses to underdogs. Any one of them can finish from first to fifth.

Longshot: Burbank. The Bulldogs have to show they're in the same class.

Frontier

Favorite: Santa Paula. Sophomore Sarah Ruiz and junior Rachelle Kolbeck are the Frontier League's best scoring tandem.

Contenders: Nordhoff and Calabasas. Nordhoff is the most intriguing team, with its youthful roster capable of scoring an upset in league play.

Longshots: Santa Clara and Malibu. The Sharks are not the ready for prime-time players.

Golden

Favorite: Antelope Valley. With Pepperdine-bound guard Crystal McCutcheon and three other starters back from last season's league champion, the Antelopes have earned it.

Contenders: Palmdale has struggled in preseason but has played the toughest schedule. It might pay off. Quartz Hill has shown promise, including a victory over Foothill favorite Hart, and Littlerock might hit stride under first-year Coach Sherri Cvijanovich.

Longshots: Lancaster is improved but still a year away. Highland has played a tough nonleague schedule but struggled to be competitive.

Marmonte

Favorite: Simi Valley. The Pioneers emerge from nonleague play in better shape than the rest of the region's most balanced league. But not by much.

Contenders: Newbury Park, Agoura, Royal, Moorpark. Each capable of capturing the league title, each capable of losing to any league rival.

Longshot: Westlake and Thousand Oaks. Both had off-season coaching changes and might need another season to rebuild.

Mission

Favorite: Harvard-Westlake. The Saracens have had strong showings in the Antelope Valley and Ayala tournaments and the league's best post play.

Contenders: Chaminade might be the region's most improved team, although it's hard to tell against the competition the Eagles have played. Thursday against Harvard-Westlake will reveal much. Notre Dame has All-Valley guard Sierra Hauser-Price and prepared for league with a tougher schedule.

Longshots: Louisville is trying to recover from injuries to key players, Alemany is rebuilding with talented young players that might still be a year away and Flintridge Sacred-Heart has to prove it can compete in this league.

Pacific

Favorite: Muir. Since Michelle Greco left Crescenta Valley, it's been Muir's league.

Contenders: Crescenta Valley, Glendale, Pasadena. Crescenta Valley has one of the region's top freshmen, Jeanine Deno. Will it be enough?

Longshots: Hoover and Arcadia.

Pacific View

Favorite: Camarillo. The Scorpions are playing well, with sharp-shooting guard Gillian Lillich leading the push.

Contenders: Oxnard. The Yellowjackets are hot and cold, but a rout of a solid Simi Valley team last week shows they're capable of beating Camarillo, which lost to Simi Valley.

Longshots: Rio Mesa and Hueneme have improved and Channel Islands is rebuilding. They'll fight it out for the last playoff spot.

Tri-Valley

Favorite: Oak Park. Michelle Bregar is the league's most experienced point guard. Her playmaking and shooting skills ignite the offense.

Contenders: St. Bonaventure is 10-3 and is led by Ashley Garza, who averages 13.3 points. Carpinteria has the league's best post player, Sarah Grieve, who averages double figures in points and rebounds.

Longshots: Fillmore is rebuilding.

Sunset Six

Favorite: Defending-champion Grant (8-7) is looking to repeat after advancing to the championship game of the Thousand Oaks tournament. Grant lost sharp-shooting guard Deja Cruz to a knee injury last week but has found a capable replacement, Temma Healey, and the Lancers can rely on Krystal Clay and Alexis Weatherspoon.

Contenders: The usual battle for supremacy with North Hollywood (7-8) should ensue with Clay and Weatherspoon going at it against the Huskies' Richelle Sherman and Kaipresha Price in games on Jan. 19 and Feb. 7. Canoga Park, which enjoyed its best season in recent years last year, has several returnees.

Longshots: Poly and Verdugo Hills are finding their way under new coaches.

Valley Mission

Favorite: Monroe (5-5) finished second to Kennedy last season by one game and have junior forward LaToya Jackson back plus center Takiyyah Gray and guards Desiree Norihiro and Kelly Nakano, sophomores with potential.

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