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High school girls basketball notes: Oak Ridge has aches, pains and wins

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4C

The Oak Ridge girls basketball team is off to a 9-1 start, a little bit to the surprise of veteran coach Steve White.

It's not that White doesn't think he has a pretty good group. It's just that he's played his first 10 games without a complete team. Only seven of his 13 players have been healthy enough to play in every game.

Celeste Vitolas, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, and Lauren Liebert, a 5-6 senior guard, have just started working out with the team as they recover from a broken foot and injured knee, respectively.

Michelle Barkley, another 6-1 junior forward, is day-to-day because of a re-aggravated knee issue – she had meniscus surgery in the offseason – and sophomore guard Yumi Drossos also is dealing with a gimpy leg.

And arguably the team's best all-around player, senior guard/forward Hayley Anderson, a UC San Diego scholarship signee, missed the team's first tournament because of a knee strain suffered in a preseason practice.

"(Dec. 18) was the first practice where we could do anything with 10 healthy players," said White, in his 18th season. "They're just playing hard, playing together, and our young kids are getting some great experience."

They'll get some more this week.

The Oak Ridge girls and boys teams will play in the KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Fla., Friday through Monday.

"It's something we've never done before," White said. "We're pretty excited. We think it's going to be a good experience for both (teams)."

The Oak Ridge girls will be the only California team in their eight-team bracket that includes Pfugerville, Texas, ranked No. 20 nationally by Maxpreps.com.

Oak Ridge's only loss this season came Nov. 30 in the Nike Central Valley Showdown in Clovis to Mater Dei of Santa Ana, 73-43. Mater Dei is the defending CIF Division I state champion and ranked No. 9 nationally by Maxpreps.com.

Since that loss, Oak Ridge has won eight consecutive games, including the championships of its own Trojan Toss-up and Trojan Shootout tournaments.

It's all to prepare Oak Ridge for what White says will be a daunting Sac-Joaquin Section D-I playoff field this season.

The Trojans, who lost in two overtimes to Kennedy in last year's section final, not only have to contend again with the No. 3 Cougars and No. 4 Pleasant Grove, which nosed out Oak Ridge last season for the Delta River League title, but state power St. Mary's of Stockton is also now in the division.

St. Mary's has won five consecutive section titles, the last two at D-II and the previous three at D-III, in addition to winning three state titles during that span. Oak Ridge won the D-I state title in 2010 behind Sara James, who is now at Stanford.

Mega tourney – Ten area teams will compete in the 120-team West Coast Jamboree on Thursday through Monday in the East Bay.

Top-ranked Sacramento, Pleasant Grove and Sheldon will compete in the 16-team, four-day Platinum Division bracket at Deer Valley High in Antioch.

The others will compete in three-day, eight-team brackets.

No. 8 Christian Brothers and Kennedy are in the Diamond Division bracket at Miramonte High School in Orinda; No. 6 Florin is in the Gold Division bracket at Dublin High School; and No. 9 Del Oro is in the Coral Division bracket at Antioch High School.

No. 11 Bradshaw Christian and Grant will play in the Jade Division bracket at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill; and No. 18 West Campus is in the Onyx Division bracket at Valley Christian in Dublin.

State champs return – State power Archbishop Mitty of San Jose will play at No. 5 St. Francis on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Coach Sue Phillips and Mitty enjoy their trips to Sacramento.

In March, the Monarchs upset St. Mary's of Stockton 53-51 in the Northern California Regional D-II final at Sleep Train Arena, then returned six days later to edge JW North of Riverside 56-54 for the state title.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Bill Paterson



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