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MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mater Dei basketball players, left to right, Andee Velasco, Katie Lou Samuelson, Karlie Samuelson and Khalia Lark all want the ball from the girl's head basketball coach Kevin Kiernan, center.

Girls basketball: O.C. preseason top 10

OCVARSITY.COM

O.C. PRESEASON TOP 10

1. Mater Dei: Jordan Adams, Nirra Fields and Alexas Williamson graduated after leading the Monarchs to a fourth consecutive CIF-SS title and a third consecutive state championship last season. Most teams would be in rebuilding mode after absorbing those kinds of losses, but Mater Dei is not most teams. Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson transferred from Edison to Mater Dei, Andee Velasco is ready to take over at point guard, Khalia Lark and Alli Brown are back and Jayde Woods is one of the top freshmen in the county. Monarchs coach Kevin Kiernan said his team is deep and is going to live and die with the 3-point shot.

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2. Troy: Briana Roberson, who led the Warriors to the CIF-SS Division 1A finals as a sophomore, is back after missing her junior season with a torn ACL. Roberson, Gabriella Hanson and Alecia Dimas are the big three for Troy. Throw in a pair of talented freshmen - Rebecca Lazuka and Barbara Sitanggan - and it's easy to see why many believe this could be the season the Warriors challenge Mater Dei for the county's top spot.

3. JSerra: Mater Dei has owned the Trinity League the past five seasons, but the Lions could give the Monarchs a serious challenge this season. OCVarsity freshman of the year Coco Miller, speedy August Touchard and 6-4 Megan House return for JSerra, and 6-2 Courtney Vaccher transferred from Yorba Linda to JSerra. The Lions have speed and height, which makes them dangerous against anybody in So Cal.

4. Orange Lutheran: The Lancers were hampered by multiple injuries last season, which meant a quick exit from the playoffs. Jesse Spittel, Sydney Jacobs, Abbey Goodsell and Jessica Salottolo are healthy and are veterans who can help the Lancers push Mater Dei and JSerra in the Trinity League.

5. Brea Olinda: Kim Cram-Torres did an amazing job of replacing Jeff Sink as the Ladycats’ coach last season. She guided Brea Olinda to a 26-7 record, the CIF-SS Division 1AA finals and the So Cal Regional semifinals, but things will be much tougher this season with the departure of All-County players Keitra Wallace and Taylor Spears. The Ladycats return Anna Kim, who is one of the county's top point guards, and forward Tori Bryant, so the Ladycats will remain the team to beat in the Century League.

6. Canyon: Fifth-year coach Matt Dale has done a great job of building the Comanches into one of the top programs in the county. Two years ago, Dale guided Canyon to a CIF-SS championship and last season the Comanches reached the quarterfinals after getting moved up to Division 2AA. The Comanches lost Shanice Jackson and Christina Salvatore to graduation, but guard Tyler Prange, guard Lauren Uyematsu and forward Sheraton Jones are back, which means Canyon could be Brea Olinda's biggest threat in the Century League.

7. Woodbridge: The Warriors shared the Pacific Coast League title with University last season and they look like the team to beat in the PCL once again. Guard Sarah Lipton has been a key contributor at Woodbridge since her sophomore year, and the Warriors will rely heavily on the senior this season. Forward Wendy Shiga is another key returner.

8. Laguna Hills: Celia Marfone, who led Laguna Hills to a CIF-SS Division 3AA title and to the Division 3 state title game, last season has moved on to UC Davis, but point guard Maddy Ziering-Smith and center Anna Mumm return.

9. El Toro: Center Alyson Doherty and point guard Whitney Williams were the big 1-2 punch for the Chargers in their run to a share of the South Coast League title and the CIF-SS Division 1A semifinals last season. Doherty is now at UC Davis, but Williams is back to help El Toro duke it out with Laguna Hills for the league title.

10. Foothill: Molly Greubel led the Knights to the CIF-SS Division 2A title last season, but she is now at UC Davis. Foothill also lost center Taylor Hirz to graduation. Guard Hailey James is back and the Knights will rely on her heavily.

 


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