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MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mater Dei basketball players, left to right, Katie Lou Samuelson, Andee Velasco, Karlie Samuelson and Khalia Lark all want the ball this season.

Girls basketball: 2012-13 season preview

OCVARSITY.COM

This was supposed to be a "rebuilding" year for Mater Dei's girls basketball team.

What else could they do after losing Jordan Adams, Nirra Fields and Alexas Williamson to the Pac-12.

The Monarchs, who have won four consecutive CIF-SS titles and three consecutive state championships, were going to be a good team, just not as dominant as they had been in recent seasons.

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But then the Samuelson sisters, Karlie and Katie Lou, transferred from Edison to Mater Dei, and suddenly the Monarchs were right back on top of the county's preseason rankings for 2012-13.

"They came in and had the right attitude," Kiernan said of the transfers. "The girls love 'em. They are just great players, too. We were very lucky. I mean, two players like that drop into your lap? It makes you a lot better coach all of a sudden.

"They are just really good players, and we're trying to help them a little bit too defensively, (to play) the way we want to play it. We've got them in the weight room, getting them a little stronger. They are putting in the time. They are putting in the effort."

The Samuelson sisters left Edison under controversial circumstances. There were allegations of feuding parents and feuding players at Edison.

"You know, the Samuelsons are great kids," Kiernan said. "I don't know all about what happened. I told them when they came in, 'I want you guys to have fun, have fun playing basketball.' And that's stayed true all summer and that's stayed true all fall. Every day they come in there they are smiling and they are happy. We're happy they're having fun."

Mater Dei isn't as physical or athletic as it has been in recent years, but the Monarchs are very skilled and they shoot the ball well. The Samuelson sisters especially are prolific 3-point shooters.

"We're going to shoot a lot of 3s," Kiernan said. "It's kind of a different way of being good, we hope. ... You live and die with it sometimes. We're probably going to have to take that risk. It's something we do really well and hopefully it doesn't burn us."

The Trinity League is the toughest league in the county. Mater Dei, JSerra and Orange Lutheran are all ranked in the top 5 in the county's preseason poll. Santa Margarita has a talented team, but it is young and untested, and Rosary, under the direction of Coach Rich Yoon, could crack the top 10 during the season.

There could come a point this season when all five Trinity League teams are ranked in the county's top-10 poll.

"The Trinity League, with JSerra and OLu, JSerra, is going to be really good this year," Kiernan said. "OLu is going to be really good too. It's going to be hard. They are really good teams."

JSERRA ON THE RISE

JSerra had a breakthrough season in 2011-12. The Lions finished with a school-record 22 victories and went 5-3 in the Trinity League, finishing tied for second place with Orange Lutheran. They reached the CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals before losing to Windward of L.A.

JSerra coach Mary Rossignol is excited about the team's prospects this season. Sophomore point guard Coco Miller, who was OCVarsity's freshman of the year last season, guard August Touchard and 6-4 center Megan House return for the Lions, and they have picked up 6-2 power forward/center Courtney Vaccher, who transferred from Yorba Linda.

"We obviously have an inside-outside game," Rossignol said. "I think it's going to be exciting to watch. We're coming off a 22-7 record and second place in the Trinity League. It was huge for us to be that successful in the Trinity League."

With the high expectations comes a tougher schedule. JSerra has nonleague games against Santiago of Corona on Dec. 18, at La Jolla Country Day on Jan. 8, at St. Bernard of Playa del Rey on Jan. 12 and against Marlborough of L.A. on Jan. 21. The Lions also play in the War by the Shore at Redondo Union of Redondo Beach from Dec. 3-8 and in the Holiday Hardwood Invitational at Oaks Christian High of Westlake Village from Dec. 26-29.

"Our schedule is going to be crazy," Rossignol said. "We're going to Redondo Union and Oaks Christian this year. We're playing Harvard-Westlake (of North Hollywood) in our first game at Redondo Union. Our first game at Oaks Christian is against Mater Dei (of Chula Vista). And we still got La Jolla (Country Day) and St. Bernard."

JSerra plays host to the Division 4 Showcase on Feb. 2. The showcase features 12 of the top Division 4 teams in Southern California, including La Jolla Country Day, Windward of L.A., St. Anthony of Long beach, Marlborough of L.A., Crossroads of Santa Monica, St. Bernard of Playa Del Rey and JSerra. Rossignol said the matchups will be based on the rankings the week before the showcase.

NOTES

Troy guard Briana Roberson missed her entire junior season with a torn ACL and the Warriors had a number of injuries throughout last season that kept them from reaching their potential. Warriors coach Roger Anderson is excited to have Roberson, guard Gabriella Hanson and wing Alecia Dimas healthy and ready to go this season.

"This is what we had the potential to be last year, but Roberson never made it back and Gabby injured herself," Anderson said, "so we played, basically, with Alecia and a hurt Gabby and no Roberson. This is a whole new, nice situation again. We can play big ball. We can play quick, fast ball. We have a lot of different ways we can play, which is nice. We are extremely quick." ...

The girls games for the Nike Extravaganza XVII will be held on Feb. 3 at Mater Dei High. Here are the matchups: Rialto vs. Rosary, 4:30 p.m.; Orange Lutheran vs. Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, 6 p.m.; and Mater Dei vs. Windward of L.A., 9 p.m. ...

The fourth OC/San Diego Challenge will be held Jan. 21 at Santa Margarita High. Here are the matchups: Mission Viejo vs. Our Lady of Peace of San Diego, 12:30 p.m.; Rosary vs. Mount Miguel of Spring Valley, 2 p.m.; Orange Lutheran vs. Carlsbad, 3:30 p.m.; Santa Margarita vs. Cathedral Catholic of San Diego, 5 p.m.; and Edison vs. The Bishop's of La Jolla, 6:30 p.m. ...

The preseason league favorites: Whitney of Cerritos (Academy); Brea Olinda (Century); Kennedy (Empire); Eastside Christian (Express); Troy (Freeway); Rancho Alamitos (Garden Grove); Westminster (Golden West); Katella (Orange); Estancia (Orange Coast); Woodbridge (Pacific Coast); Orangewood Academy (San Joaquin); Tesoro (Sea View); El Toro (South Coast); Edison (Sunset); and Mater Dei (Trinity). ...

The results from last season's CIF-SS championship games: (Division 1AA) Mater Dei def. Brea Olinda, 54-47; (Division 1A) Summit of Fontana def. Huntington Beach, 56-51; (Division 2AA) Lynwood def. J.W. North of Riverside, 66-55; (Division 2A) Foothill def. Norco, 54-43; (Division 3AAA) Arroyo Grande def. Rio Mesa of Oxnard, 45-32; (Division 3AA) Laguna Hills def. Alemany of Mission Hills, 59-55 (2 OT); (Division 3A) Bishop Amat of La Puente def. Oak Park, 44-30; (Division 4AA) Serra of Gardena def. Windward of L.A., 82-77 (3 OT); (Division 4A) Campbell Hall of North Hollywood def. Brentwood, 66-29; (Division 5AA) Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo def. Villanova Prep of Ojai, 56-45; (Division 5A) Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro def. Avalon, 65-31; Orangewood Academy def. Providence Hall of Santa Barbara, 34-31.


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