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MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Foothill's Molly Greubel, left, said she never expected the Knights to go so far in the state playoffs. They have reached the Division 2 Southern Regional final and are closing in on a state title.

Greubel aims to carry Foothill to state title

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

SANTA ANA - Foothill point guard Molly Greubel grew up watching Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

"It was always Kobe," Greubel said of her sports hero.

Greubel has the same killer instinct as "The Black Mamba." Greubel hit a jumper Tuesday with 2 seconds left to send Foothill's game against top-seeded Lynwood into overtime and then sank two free throws in the final seconds to give the Knights a 52-50 victory.

That triumph put the Knights in the CIF Southern California Division 2 Regional finals against J.W. North of Riverside on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

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Divison 2 regional finals preview: Foothill vs. JW North

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"We knew that they had size advantage, speed advantage and a little more athletic," Greubel said of Lynwood. "We just said, 'Hey, you know what? We can't play their game. We have to play our game.' "

That wasn't the only amazing ending during Foothill's surprising run to the regional finals. After beating all their opponents by double digits on the way to the CIF-SS Division 2A title, the Knights have won their past three games in the state tournament by a combined seven points. They needed a miracle 40-footer by Dayanara Armenta at the buzzer to beat Monroe of North Hills, 44-41, in the opening round March 7.

"It's honestly not what I expected," Greubel said. "It's way better than I ever could have imagined.

"I mean, I was hoping for a CIF championship. That's kind of what my goal was at the very beginning of the season. State was kind of an extra."

So what has been the key to Greubel's success?

"I take naps before all my games," she said. "Naps are the key. I need my naps."

Greubel, who averages 16.7 points per game, learned how to be a leader from watching former Foothill standout Christina Marinacci, who now plays at USC. Greubel was a freshman when Marinacci led the Knights to a CIF-SS Division 3A title.

"I played with Christina my whole freshman year, so I kind of looked up to her and got to see the way she handled things," Greubel said. "I've kind of used that and changed some things because we are different style of players."

Greubel says the key to being a good leader is that "it's not necessarily always about scoring the most points or always doing this or that. It's about the little things."

Greubel brightens up when talking about her teammates. Armenta,  a senior guard, is "a defensive stud." UC San Diego-bound forward Taylor Hirz is "one of my best friends since I was little." Senior guard Kourtnee Kanemaru is "just tenacious and loves the game."  Junior guard Hailey James is "my partner in crime. We're basically the same person. She's just a year younger than me."

"I'm just playing and trying to get everyone involved in the offense and that way you're not forcing anything and you're letting the game come to you," said Greubel, who surfs, wakeboards and skiis in her spare time. "I think I've definitely matured as a player.

"When it comes to the end of the game and things need to get done, then I'm willing and wanting to take over, and wanting to be the one to make game-winning shots, and just keep our team in it. I mean, if it's not there, then I have to realize that and give it to everyone else. Our team is best when everyone is scoring and everyone is playing great defense."

Greubel will continue her basketball career at UC Davis where she received a full scholarship. Laguna Hills' Celia Marfone, whose team plays Mission Bay of San Diego in the Division 2 Regional finals on Saturday, and El Toro's Alyson Doherty, whose team reached the Division 1 Regional quarterfinals, have also signed with UC Davis.

"We played club together for two years and we've been buddies ever since," Greubel said of Marfone. "We hang out a lot. She (Doherty) is also going to Davis, so I've gotten to know her a little bit through watching games together and we've hung out a few times. So, yeah, I'm super-excited to play with those two."

Greubel might have a couple more games with Foothill before her high school career is finished and she moves on to UC Davis.


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