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MOORPARK'S SHADOW LOOMS LARGE; NEW MARMONTE TEAM MAKES LEAGUE TOUGHER.

Byline: Chris Branam Daily News Staff Writer

Most Marmonte League girls' basketball coaches breathed a sigh of relief when Channel Islands High shifted to the newly-created Pacific View League last summer.

After all, the Raiders had UCLA-bound Jaline Bradley, one of the top players on the West Coast, returning for her senior season.

But look who the league got in return: Moorpark and senior Damaris Hinojosa, the area's leading scorer last year who signed with Pepperdine in November. The Musketeers were 10-0 in the Frontier League and 22-4 overall last year.

Already, Hinojosa has helped the Musketeers to two tournament finals and an 11-1 record entering Monday night's league opener at Simi Valley. How will Moorpark's entrance affect the Marmonte?

Brent Milburn, the Musketeers' fourth-year coach, said it is an obvious step up in competition.

``We have to be more consistent in playing well every night,'' Milburn said. ``We've toughened up our schedule. We've got to play well every game and that's good for us. This is a well-balanced league.''

In the Frontier League, Moorpark really only had to prepare well for its two games against Nordhoff. That won't be the case this season in a league that is very deep.

``It might be the most competitive league in the (Southern Section),'' Simi Valley coach Dave Murphy said.

After struggling to a sub-.500 record (6-8) in league last year, Simi Valley, a three-time league champion in 18 years under Murphy, has bounced back. The Pioneers were 11-3 in the preseason and two freshmen start - center Sherice Gamble and forward Teresa Cooper, the younger sister of Tawnee Cooper, the player of the year in Ventura County in 1996.

``We've played well at times,'' Murphy said, ``but we're still making young mistakes.''

Newbury Park is also young and talented. Three sophomores who were on last year's 22-0 freshman team are now on the varsity. There is no one standout, but this is definitely coach Nori Parvin's best group since the Panthers advanced to the Division III state championship game in 1995.

The Panthers are also more motivated than usual to get a playoff spot. They tied for fourth in league with Simi Valley, but the Pioneers went to the playoffs.

So Moorpark, Simi Valley and Newbury Park are the three favorites to contend for the league title. Where does that leave Royal and Thousand Oaks, the co-champions last year? Fighting for playoff spots.

The Highlanders were hit hard by graduation, losing all-league performers Alicia Weber, Jessica Sanders and Becca Voigt.

Royal gained foreign exchange student Mari Myllykoski this fall, and Myllykoski now must become the scoring leader with standout junior Kristin Galbreath out for almost half the league season with a broken hand.

Thousand Oaks also lost two all-league players - Elena Salvador and Liz Nesbitt - and longtime coach Chuck Brown, who retired. New coach Tom Strasburger was left with only four returning varsity players, but the Lancers were 8-4 after taking fifth at their tournament last week.

Westlake and Agoura are both expected to improve upon last year's 3-11 league records. The Warriors have one of the league's top scorers in sophomore forward Tawny Thorp, and the Chargers also feature a high-scoring sophomore forward - Jennifer Lacy.

SEVEN TO WATCH

The top girls' basketball players in the Marmonte League (listed alphabetically):

Player, team Position

Damaris Hinojosa, Moorpark G-F

Jennifer Lacy, Agoura C

Mari Myllykoski, Royal G-F

Teresa Russell, Royal C

Jamie Sturdivant, Simi Valley G

Tawny Thorp, Westlake F

AnnMarie Turpin, Simi Valley F

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Box

PHOTO The addition of Moorpark spells trouble for teams in the Marmonte basketball league.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News

BOX: SEVEN TO WATCH (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 5, 1999
Words:613
Previous Article:CHATTER: SMITH'S MVP HOLIDAY.
Next Article:LOCAL: PREP EXTRA : ATHLETES OF THE WEEK.


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