Ranger netters seize fourth
in home tourney
by Jesse Phelps
Sixteen teams competed in last weekend's 27th annual Nordhoff
High School Girls' Varsity Basketball Tournament, matching its
Defending Mission League champions Chaminade Prep won the tournament,
defeating league rival Alemany, 76-53, in the finals.
Chaminade used a 12-0 second half run to rally from a five-point
deficit to defeat previously undefeated prohibitive tourney favorite
Valencia 70-65 in the semifinals, and used a 40-8 run spanning
the second and third periods to bury Alemany. Two-time all-CIF
senior guard Christina Zedenek knocked down 15 threes over the
course of the weekend, tallying 24 points in the semifinal win
and 26 in the finals victory to earn tournament MVP honors.
Nordhoff recorded its best finish in the tournament in five years,
taking fourth. The Rangers opened with a lopsided win over Fillmore
(see Friday's OVN Sports) and then put an end to a four-year
losing streak, defeating St. Joseph's 68-36 behind a 10-point,
13-rebound, five-steal performance from Alison Bennett. Alexis
Kenyon added 15 points and six boards.
Tahnie Benitez, who would go on to garner all-tournament honors,
finished with eight points and six rebounds, and Becky Kennedy,
the team's lone senior, had nine points, eight rebounds and five
The win was costly, however, as the Rangers lost valuable inside
force Bennett for at least two weeks with an ankle injury.
Nordhoff struggled early, down 12-1, in the semifinals the next
night without Bennett, but eventually adjusted and won each of
the last three quarters, closing a 24-point deficit to single
digits in the fourth period before losing to Alemany 58-48. Benitez
had nine points, eight boards and six steals. Kennedy had 11
points, and Ariane Roach added seven and four assists.
"The team played very hard, and I was extremely proud that
we never gave up," said Nordhoff coach Ted Cotti. "We
walked out of the gym that night confident that we can beat that
team if and when we see them in the play-offs. And that, in itself,
is an important victory."
Overmatched in the third place game, Nordhoff lost to a much
bigger, deeper and more experienced Valencia team, 80-58. Again,
the Rangers gave no quarter, even against a team which could
claim to match Nordhoff's impressive team quickness. Roach scored
15 points to lead Nordhoff, adding five steals and career-high
seven assists. Shooting guard Sarah Nylander added 13 in the
game but finished the tourney just 14 of 44 from the field.
Benitez was solid, despite playing against post players two years
older and 50 pounds and sometimes 6 inches taller. She finished
with 10 points and nine rebounds against Valencia.
Villanova Prep, once again co-hosted the tournament with Nordhoff.
The Lady Wildcats scored a nice win the last day, using an 11-4
third-quarter surge to beat Scotts, 56-43. Laurin Van Kuelen
netted 18 points and Katie Parziale 16.
Nordhoff's varsity plays in the Providence Tournament this week
and in the Costa Mesa Tournament the five days after Christmas.
Cotti says it's a "tough road ahead, but we know these challenges
will make us better come league time."
Ted Cotti contributed to this report.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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