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She Thrives as Ring Leader

San Clemente's Pluimer has been on four section champions and this year could pick up a state title.

March 11, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Lindsey Pluimer has three Southern Section championship rings and another one on the way, but the San Clemente senior has something to admit.

"They're mostly for decoration," she said. "I'm not really a jewelry person."

With no great demand for championship scrunchies, Pluimer may get stuck with even one more ring, but it will shine more brightly than the others if the Tritons can win three more games to claim their first state title.

San Clemente, seeded third in the playoffs, has never advanced past the second round of the Southern California Regionals but can do so tonight with a victory over second-seeded Long Beach Poly at Long Beach Cabrillo. Leading the way will be the 6-foot-3 Pluimer, who is averaging 24.3 points and 10.2 rebounds.

It's a game that pits the quicker Jackrabbits (28-3) against the taller Tritons (27-4), teams ranked second and third in the Southland, respectively, by The Times and third and sixth in the state.

The winner will play Newhall Hart or San Diego on Saturday at the Sports Arena for the right to move on to the Division I state championship game in Sacramento.

"There's no other feeling like winning the [Southern Section] championship," said Pluimer, who is headed to UCLA in the fall.

San Clemente has received terrific performances from Lauren Redfield, who had 17 points in the section Division I-A title game victory over Hart on Saturday, and 6-4 Lauren Riley, who had 16 points in the 55-44 regional quarterfinal victory over Crenshaw on Tuesday, but there is no doubt as to who is the Tritons' go-to player.

In the victory over Crenshaw that ended the Cougars' 27-game winning streak, Pluimer had 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six blocked shots. Against Hart, Pluimer had 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists, including the key basket with 22 seconds left.

In the section semifinal, Pluimer had a school-record 42 points in a 66-50 victory over Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, which is ranked ninth by The Times and 13th in the state.

"A couple of times she made unbelievable moves [against Canyon Springs]," said Mary Mulligan, the San Clemente coach, who had a good program before Pluimer arrived, a great one after. "One time the ref was running past and he looked at me like, 'Oh my God.' "

That performance was one of Pluimer's greatest, and it came against a team many thought would beat the Tritons.

"It was a great accomplishment for me because it was a semifinal against a high-caliber team," Pluimer said. "But I also wanted to do whatever it took to win the game. That's all that mattered, getting to the finals."

And now, all that matters is getting past Long Beach Poly tonight. San Clemente already has victories this season over Hart and San Diego.

Pluimer finds special delight in her high school stardom.

"I have kids looking up to me, and it's an awesome feeling," she said.

"It reminds me that I need to be a good person and be an example to the younger kids in the community. It's so neat when kids come up to you and ask for autographs and want to get to know you. That's so special to me."

Pluimer was recently selected a McDonald's All-American -- "a dream come true," she said. "I wanted this since I was a little girl."

She hasn't changed much since arriving on campus as an impact player disguised as a string bean. She stands only one inch taller than she did as a freshman. Her ponytail is a little longer. She has more confidence.

"Her performance as a freshman in the Pyramid is when she really became a star," said Mulligan, who watched Pluimer score 21 points in a 54-49 victory over Irvine for the Division I-AA title. "That's when I think everyone realized she was going to be something to contend with.

"When you have Lindsey Pluimer on your team, you never think 'There's no way.' "

Not every bounce goes Pluimer's way, however. In a game this season she finished with 24 points but missed a putback and then two free throws with 5.6 seconds left in a 53-52 loss to Fullerton Rosary.

"I was definitely outside the next day working on my free throws," Pluimer said. "Usually, I thrive under pressure. A game like that is bound to come where you're not going to be perfect at the end, and I don't plan on there being another game like that where I can't take the pressure at the end."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Pluimer's Record

The year-by-year statistics of Lindsey Pluimer, who has played on four Southern Section title winners at San Clemente:

*--* Season Pts Reb Blks Rec 2000-01 13.0 8.9 1.6 28-4 2001-02 22.6 11.7 2.8 27-4 2002-03 22.1 10.1 4.3 28-4 2003-04 24.3 10.2 3.8 27-4

*--*

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