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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Buena Can't Stand Heat at Narbonne

Girls' basketball: Gauchos get the Bulldogs in their sweltering gym this time and advance to semifinals, 56-51.

March 09, 2001|DAVE DESMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HARBOR CITY — Narbonne High had to sweat it out, but eventually outlasted Buena on Thursday night in a Southern regional Division I semifinal between two of the nation's best girls' basketball teams.

A capacity crowd in Narbonne's sweltering gym watched the defending state-champion Gauchos claim a 56-51 victory to move on to Saturday's regional final.

Narbonne (26-3) will face Lynwood on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Forum in the regional final. Lynwood, which defeated Fullerton Troy in the other semifinal, upset Narbonne, 46-36, in a season opener.

The climate in the gym was a distinct advantage to a deep Narbonne team that rotated 11 players.

"Our depth played a big key tonight," said Coach James Anderson, whose team lost to Buena, 71-61, in an intersectional game on Feb. 3. "I think the intensity raised the heat up in here."

Buena (29-2), which spent eight weeks ranked atop USA Today's national rankings before falling to sixth this week after a loss to Troy in the Southern Section Division I-A final, rallied from a 38-23 third-quarter deficit, twice trimming the margin to three points in the fourth.

"It's hard to make up that much of a deficit against a good team in one or two quarters," said Kelly Greathouse, Buena's 6-foot-3 center, who had 17 points and nine rebounds.

Courtney Young also scored 17 for Buena, and Courtney LaVere added nine points before fouling out.

The rest of the Bulldogs combined for eight points.

Narbonne, which this week reclaimed its No. 1 preseason national ranking, had the usual scoring balance.

Wilnett Crockett and Amber Pruitt each scored 12 points and Loree Moore added 11 for Narbonne, two-time defending City Section 4-A champion.

When Crockett made a free throw to give the Gauchos a 55-48 lead with 31 seconds left, their bench erupted in high fives and jubilation.

"Any time you get a win over Buena and Joe Vaughan, the greatest coach in the state, it's great," said Anderson, whose team will host Buena next season in a nonleague game. "I'm 2-1 over him now. I might not let him come back here next year."

Narbonne also eliminated Buena in the 1997 regional semifinals.

Vaughan, winningest girls' coach in state history with a 635-70 record, was understandably disappointed.

"Obviously, we had tremendous hopes and goals we wanted to accomplish," he said. "But I'm proud of these girls and the way they battled."

Narbonne's pressure defense, seemingly always with fresh players, rarely allowed the Bulldogs an uncontested pass or shot.

The Gauchos forced 17 turnovers and Buena made only 13 of 46 shots. Narbonne, which won its eighth consecutive game since the loss at Buena, made 20 of 53 shots.

The Bulldogs might have been the most talented girls' team ever to play in the Valley-Ventura County region. But that talent was unable to capture Buena's seventh section title or third state championship.

"I still think we're an awesome team," Greathouse said. "Just because our season's over doesn't make it a loss."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SOUTHERN REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

GIRLS

Division I

Narbonne: 56

Buena: 51

Division III

Rosary: 58

Harvard-Westlake: 51

* The Wolverines overcome a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit before losing. D18

Division IV

Oak Park: 57

Morro Bay: 52

* The Eagles use three-pointers to again defeat Morro Bay. D18

*

BOYS

Division IV

Garces: 77

Crespi: 51

Division V

Price: 60

Kilpatrick: 59

* The Mustangs lose to defending state champions on late free throw. D20

MORE RESULTS ON D20

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