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GIRLS' BASKETBALL DIVISION III REGIONAL FINAL

A Day of Firsts for Bishop Amat

March 14, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Erin Myrick and Chasmine Jones were known quantities as a pair of powerful forwards for La Puente Bishop Amat.

The two were expected to play a pivotal role in the Lancers' Division III Southern Regional championship game against Inglewood Morningside on Saturday at the Sports Arena.

But Juanise Cornell?

The reserve forward scored 11 points in Bishop Amat's 71-51 victory, sending the Lancers to the state final for the first time after reaching its first regional final.

Bishop Amat (31-3) will play Stockton St. Mary's (31-4) next Saturday in Sacramento. St. Mary's, ranked fourth in the state, got 31 points from Jacki Gemelos in a 57-43 victory over San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral on the strength of a 25-8 fourth quarter.

Morningside, which lost earlier this season to Bishop Amat, 49-42, finished 31-4.

Cornell wasn't the whole story. Myrick, a 6-foot-2 senior bound for Texas Tech, scored 18 points, Jones added 13 and guard Jessica Carrera had 11. But when the 5-10 Cornell replaced Jones, a 5-10 senior, in the third quarter, it was still a competitive game.

"This was her best game of the year," Coach Richard Wiard said. "She's a great athlete, she's just overshadowed. She realizes when she's out there she's not the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 option on offense, and as a sophomore, she's willing to defer to those other kids."

Despite Morningside's shooting woes -- after opening an 8-2 lead, the Monarchs went 7 minutes 36 seconds in the first half without a point and missed 15 in a row -- it trailed only 34-27 at halftime. Jones' basket inside extended Bishop Amat's lead in the opening minute of the third quarter, but she left with her third foul at 6:41.

Cornell scored eight points in a 12-4 run over the next four minutes and the rout was on. Bishop Amat stretched its lead to 15 points, 48-33.

Morningside's Natasha Thomas, a 6-3 senior, was the game's scoring star. Her fade-away baseline jumper was unstoppable and she finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Senior transfer Lorie Rayford, who was part of Lynwood's consecutive state championships in Division I, was not a factor. She finished with seven rebounds and only five points.

Twila Stokes added nine points for Morningside.

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