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A weekly look at some of the Southland's top high school athletes:

January 27, 2006|LAUREN PETERSON; MARTIN HENDERSON; DAN ARRITT

GIRLS' SOCCER

JESSICA SHARPE

Sr., Fullerton Sunny Hills

* Then: The Southern Section Division III co-player of the year last season, she had a team-leading 36 goals to go with 18 assists and helped the Lancers to a share of their first section championship. A four-year starter on varsity, Sharpe honed her skills with the ASC Express club team since age 13.

* Now: A team captain, Sharpe leads the Lancers with 23 goals and 10 assists. "She leads with her heart and the other players definitely follow her," said Coach Jeff Gordon, in his 16th season. Sharpe scored twice in the Lancers' 3-0 victory over Ojai Nordhoff in the championship game of the Garden Grove Pacifica tournament on Saturday and was named the tournament's most valuable player. She has been a key reason the Lancers (16-2-4, 4-0-1) had a 25-game unbeaten streak in Freeway League play going into a match Thursday against visiting La Habra.

* Quote: "I play for my team," Sharpe said. "A lot of people kind of look up to me, and I just try to lead by example."

--LAUREN PETERSON

*

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

REBEKAH GARDNER

So., Chino Hills Ayala

* Then: With only two seniors on varsity, Gardner arrived as a 5-10 freshman forward who was content to play a quiet, supportive role -- until she got the ball. "She became our instant scoring leader without any reservations," Coach Mel Sims said. Gardner averaged 18 points and eight rebounds and was named Sierra League most valuable player.

* Now: Set a school scoring record twice in four days. She scored 43 in a 68-33 league victory over Glendora on Jan. 18, followed by 44 in an 89-61 nonleague victory over La Canada. Coming into this week she had scored at least 30 in five of her previous six games, averaging 35.2 in that span. The night before scoring 44, she scored 27 in a 57-47 loss to Chino that determined first place through the first round of league play. Sims says Gardner, who is also being used as a guard, improved 20% to 25% in the off-season. She is averaging 27.9 points and 3.2 assists, and this week the team is adding some isolation plays to allow her more opportunities to score.

* Quote: "She doesn't shoot enough," Sims said. "You're shooting 54% from the field, you should be taking over 50% of the team's shots. But she's an unselfish player. She wants to pass a lot."

--MARTIN HENDERSON

*

BOYS' BASKETBALL

DERRICK JASPER

Jr., Paso Robles

* Then: One of only two freshmen to play for Scott Larson in his 29 years as varsity coach at the school, Jasper came of age that season when he scored 27 points against Los Angeles Crenshaw in a tournament game. He was a first-team All-Pac-5 League selection as a sophomore and continued to improve last season, averaging 21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists to help the Bearcats earn a share of the league title. He was named to the Southern Section Division II-A second team.

* Now: A 6-foot-6 point guard, Jasper became a target recruit for Kentucky last summer. After making a verbal commitment during an official visit in September, he signed a letter of intent two months later. He was averaging 18.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists heading into this week. Paso Robles, ranked No. 14 in the Southland by The Times, will play an intersectional game Saturday against San Luis Obispo Mission Prep, a team Jasper scored a career-high 36 points against last season.

* Quote: "He's a very unselfish player who is always looking to set people up," Larson said. "He would take a good pass over a jump shot any day."

--DAN ARRITT

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