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GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Curses of This Pyramid Befall Warriors

March 06, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON

Things could not have gone much worse for Brethren Christian than they did Saturday. The last hour of the Warriors' day at the Pyramid of Long Beach was filled with disappointment, heartache and pain.

When players returned to the floor following their halftime talk, trailing, 29-28, in the Southern Section Division V-AA title game, they walked past Lindsey Moss, one of the team's cheerleaders, being tended to by paramedics. Moss had fallen off the shoulders of a teammate, suffered lower back pain and was immobile. She was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which proved negative. Moss attended classes on Monday.

The only light moment during that hour came in the opening moments of the second half, when Heather Spowart, Brethren Christian's best player, made a basket for the other team, Montclair Prep. Trailing by two, Spowart grabbed a rebound and put it back up.

"It was just one of those blank-out moments," said Spowart. "I was really worried we were going to lose by two points."

That didn't happen, in part because of what happened next.

Danielle Hall, who wears "The Wall" written across the back of her warmup jersey, had been effective against Montclair's own wall, Jasmine Wesley, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound force. But Hall was carted off on a gurney with minor ligament damage after Eshaya Murphy ran into her while driving to the basket. Hall's legs were locked into position to take take a charging call when Murphy leaped into her. She will be on crutches for two weeks.

To add insult to injury, Hall was also called for the foul.

Montclair won, 67-43.

IT'S ON

Claims that Brea Olinda is ducking Orange County opponents should subside for awhile. Even though Brea will not play in the Orange County Championship next season, the Ladycats have lined up Woodbridge and San Clemente as nonleague opponents in January.

According to Coach Jeff Sink, he was contacted by Woodbridge Coach Eric Bangs about a game, and Brea contacted San Clemente about a game.

Those three could be among the top teams in the county next season, along with Huntington Beach, Troy and Esperanza.

WHO'S NO. 1?

Bangs, coach of the county's only undefeated team through the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, reiterated Saturday something that he had said most of the season. He thinks Troy is the best team in Orange County.

Hard to argue after the Warriors took down Ventura Buena, 58-51, handing the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.

The reason Troy wasn't No. 1 in the county poll--which is where the Warriors began the season in preseason rankings--is because they lost three of five games in December, coinciding with Coach Kevin Kiernan's abrupt resignation, and Veronica Johns-Richardson getting sick.

"We were playing poorly in December, and we took a step back and did some soul-searching," Kiernan said. "We got that No. 1 ranking [in Orange County] and I felt like we let down, and we let a lot of people down who sacrificed . . . . to make us a program.

"We got comfortable with being No. 1."

Troy had beaten Esperanza in a semifinal of the Artesia tournament, then lost a 13-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to Artesia in the finals. After beating Calvary Chapel and Edison, Troy lost to Esperanza, and then to Irvine. Johns-Richardson, sick against Esperanza, did not play against Irvine.

"We took that Irvine game as an experiment, we kept out Veronica," Kiernan said. "But for the last month, we've been a heck of a team."

With the soul-searching came 17 wins in a row. The Warriors' victory Saturday wasn't the county's first against a team ranked atop a national poll. In 1990, Brea defeated Inglewood Morningside, 68-60.

DON'T COUNT OUT IRVINE

Everyone would like to dismiss Division I-AA finalist Irvine as a threat next season because it loses four of its seven players.

But consider the Vaqueros' three returning varsity players: forward Kristin Thawley, one of the most talented players in the county; 6-1 center Kattie O'Hara, who might be as physically strong as any player in the county, and guard Nikki Kamada, who averaged 7.5 points and 3.4 assists.

MARY AND MARV

San Clemente's victory Saturday over Irvine in a terrific game was especially meaningful to the Tritons' coach, Mary Mulligan. After 15 seasons at the school, it was her first title; her teams had lost in 1998 and '99.

"Who's that coach of the Buffalo Bills," Mulligan asked before the game, referring to Marv Levy, a four-time loser in the Super Bowl. "I don't want to be that guy."

*

If you have an item or idea for the girls' basketball report, you can fax us at (714)966-5663 or e-mail us at martin.henderson@latimes.com

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