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December 24, 2002

Cougars set for BCL

From: Contra Costa Times - 24 Dec 2002

College Prep girls are starting strong in league play after a rough nonleague schedule
By Scott Strain

The College Prep School girls basketball duo of juniors Zarinah Blockton and Katie Fisher may be the best one-two punch in the Bay Counties League-East this season, and if they get a little help from their friends (read teammates), the Cougars could go far this season.

Coach Richard Tanner has put his team through a rigorous, early nonleague schedule, and the Cougars already have begun to reap the benefits. College Prep is 2-0 in the young BCL-East season with victories over Bentley on Dec. 3 and California School for the Deaf on Thursday.

But it has been rough nonleague season (1-7) for CPS, and it ended with a 46-41 loss at St. Elizabeth on Friday afternoon. From now on, after an 18-day break, it's all BCL-East games for the Cougars, starting with a home game against Contra Costa Christian on Jan. 7.

The hiatus will also afford College Prep a chance to get "better" -- as in better from injuries. The Cougars were missing 5-foot-11 freshman center Zoe Ballance, whose absence really hurt against the Mustangs (3-5), who were not tall, but quick.

"Zoe sprained her ankle a couple of days ago and we were also missing our back-up post player, so what can you do," Tanner said. "I told them box out on defense and play as hard as you can. We had a shot (at a win) at the end."

Blockton had 23 points and Fisher finished with 16, but only one other Cougars player scored -- Amelia Schimmel got a basket in the third quarter.

And while Blockton and Fisher aren't the Paris twins (Ashley and Courtney of Piedmont High, that is), they know what it is about. Both can create their own shots, move without the ball and distribute it to create opportunities for their teammates.

"They make us go and get everybody involved," Tanner said, "but you can't win without post players."

"We were missing a couple of players," Fisher said, "but we are getting better on defense."

College Prep started off in a 2-3 zone on defense and attempted a lot of 3-point shots on offense. Neither strategy worked in the first quarter; St. Elizabeth got several transition baskets and CPS missed all its long-range attempts as the Mustangs took a 12-5 lead. It also didn't help that the Cougars were 1-of-4 from the free-throw line in the period.

Blockton and Fisher got their act going in the second period, scoring all of CPS's 11 points in the quarter as the St. Elizabeth lead was trimmed slightly to 22-16. It was the Mustangs' turn to go cold at the line -- 3-of-7 in the period.

Blockton picked up her third foul with 5:04 left in the third quarter and came out for a short spell. Schimmel's basket cut a 28-21 St. Elizabeth lead to 28-23 and Blockton hit a 27-footer at the buzzer to keep the Mustangs' lead at six, 32-26.

The Mustangs came out running in the fourth quarter and rapidly went up 36-26 but CPS, with Blockton and Fisher each scoring six points, cut the lead to 39-38 with 3:50 left in the game.

Time was taken when CPS forward Stephanie McLin went hard to the floor and had to leave the game. The respite seemed to serve St. Elizabeth better than it did the Cougars as the Mustangs took a 42-38 lead on Lantanzia Brooks' 3-point shot with 3:25 left in the game.

Fisher hit one of two free throws and then scored a basket to bring CPS to within 42-41 with 2:05 left. But that was a close as the Cougars would get.

Gabby Wilson hit a free throw at the 1:04 mark to give St. Elizabeth a 43-41 lead and then Brooks hit the shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc with 15 seconds left that gave the Mustangs a 46-41 lead.

"It was a back-and-forth game," Tanner said. "It was enjoyable to watch. But we've got two weeks to get healthy and we'll be fine."

Brooks led St. Elizabeth with 20 points, including three 3-point shots.


College Prep 62, CSD 42: Daniel Fisher scored 25 points and Saleh Tyebjee added 14 to lead College Prep over visiting California School for the Deaf in BCL-East action Thursday.

College Prep improved to 2-0 in league and 4-6 overall.

"They're playing well -- they're coming off some tough tournaments," College Prep assistant Duane McNeil said of his players. "We're looking forward to (the rest of the league season). We've played some really strong competition."

College Prep won't play again until Jan. 7, so the challenge for the Cougars now is to stay focused on basketball.

"We'll have some sporadic practices," McNeil said. "Hopefully, the guys will work out on their own to stay in shape and stay sharp."

Shomrat Sarkar had eight points for the Cougars. Jesse Pedersen added five points and Hector Rosekrans four. Robert Desimone, Kevin Williams and Daniel Ackerman scored two points apiece in the winning effort.

College Prep took control early, leading 16-8 after one quarter and 33-16 by halftime.

College Prep will head to Walnut Creek for its next game Jan. 7 when it faces Contra Costa Christian at the Tice Valley Community Center. The Cougars return home two days later to face Bentley. Two more home games follow, as the Cougars host Berean Christian on Jan. 14 and Head-Royce on Jan. 17.

"That should be a real test for us to see where we're at and where they're at," McNeil said of the Berean Christian and Head-Royce games.

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