Girls Basketball: Pierre, Weber earn All-Area Honors

Star-News All-Area team compiled by Keith Lair
Player/Coach of the Year stories written by Miguel Melendez

Player of the Year: Eliza Pierre (Muir) Sr.
Coach of the Year: Kim Weber (Pasadena Poly)

FIRST TEAM
F Jasmine Gordon (Monrovia) Sr.
F Janise Ho (Keppel) Sr.
C Brittany Henderson (Muir) Sr.
G Nicol Bisek (South Pasadena) Sr.
G Michelle Miller (Pasadena Poly) Fr.

SECOND TEAM
C Courtney McCutchan (La Canada) Jr.
G Maryum Jenkins (Monrovia) Sr.
G Michelle Lo (Keppel) Jr.
G Megan Musashi (Flintridge Prep) Jr.
G Paige Robinson (Muir) Sr.

HONORABLE MENTION
F Tiffany Horton (Rio Hondo Prep) Sr.
F Kelly Pray (Pasadena Poly) Sr.
F Evelyn Ramirez (Rosemead) Jr.
C Katie Tripoli (La Salle) Sr.
G Vanessa Hernandez (Monrovia) Sr.
G Tia Chen (La Canada) Jr.
G Mian Dingle (Maranatha) So.
G Charie Flynn (Blair) Jr.
G Gina Henderson (Monrovia) Fr.
G Jasmine Jenkins (La Salle) Sr.

CLICK THREAD FOR COACH/PLAYER OF THE YEAR STORIES

MUIR HAD SOMETHING SPECIAL
Pierre sparked Mustangs

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

Many watched in amazement whenever Muir High School’s Eliza Pierre had the basketball in her hands.

She could penetrate inside, hit mid-range jumpers and used her speed to make steals.

She was at her best when she had the ball and not watching someone move around her.

Pierre, a senior, almost averaged a triple double (10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and six steals), but for her that wasn’t enough.

That alone spoke volumes of how much she knew she was capable of doing. Her mind-set was to average a quadruple double. She didn’t but that’s why she almost averaged what virtually no other player in the San Gabriel Valley could do.

Pierre won’t be available to play in the sixth annual Star-News/Tribune All-Star Classic. She’ll instead fly to Miami and play in next week’s prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game. Her mother, Thelma, will go along on the trip and both will soak in the experience she’s worked for most of her whole life.

A CIF-Southern Section championship eluded her in four years at Muir, but the Mustangs always were in contention. They fell short again this season when they lost to Inglewood in the semifinals, but Pierre accomplished so much more.

She’ll take her basketball skills and grades (she had a 4.0 GPA last year and 3.8 last semester) to Berkeley next season, where she’ll play in the Pac-10.

It’s unlikely someone else like Pierre will come along anytime soon, but her accomplishments no doubt have given those behind her hope that reaching lofty goals is attainable.

“She’s one of those athletes that just comes around once in a while,” Muir coach Gary Johnson said. “She was something special.”

To say the least.

For her dedication on and off the court and more than impressive multi-dimensional game, Pierre is the Star-News 2008-09 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Oddly enough and as hard as she worked, Pierre felt she could have given more. But how much more was there to give?

“It seemed like every night I did not reach my talent,” she said. “I felt I was supposed to have a quadruple double, which was very hard.”

But she thanked her teammates who made her look good, too.

Senior Brittany Henderson and Pierre have complemented each other’s game since sixth grade. Pierre will stay in the West while Henderson will play at Kentucky next season.

Their friendship still will find a way to survive. That’s what the best teammates and friends tend to do.

“Something I learned was never feel scared of your competitors,” Pierre said.

She said she would love nothing more than to make a career out of basketball. Reaching the ranks of the WNBA is a goal she’s set for herself and, judging by her work ethic and aggressiveness toward reaching her goals, it won’t be long before Pierre makes basketball not just her love but also her job.

To get there she has simple advice for those who follow behind her.

“I would tell them to get the grades so they can accomplish what they want to do,” she said.

“You have to believe in yourself, and any goal you set take the stepping stones to get there.”

Pierre no doubt has left a blueprint.

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485

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WEBER, POLY HAD GREAT EXPECTATIONS

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

In a season when she had to be subtle about her coaching style, Pasadena Poly girls basketball coach Kim Weber still got the most out of her team.

That’s what the best coaches do.

The season started with Weber well into her pregnancy. At the beginning, the challenges were minimal.

“I couldn’t run around the court or demonstrate skills and moves while practicing,” Weber said. “(I) had to sit during practices, and as the season wore on, had to sit for most of practices, and all of games, something in the past I never did.”

But like every well-prepared coach, Weber already had instilled the discipline in her team from years past. Having an understanding staff – Amber Gravely, Reggie Hunt and Marnie Kislinger – also made the transition a smooth process.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more supporting staff,” Weber said. “In the last few months I really had to slow down, literally. I didn’t have my usual voice, my energy decreased as the pregnancy and season progressed, but the adrenaline often kicked in because we had such an exciting and successful season.”

The Panthers finished 25-1 overall and 11-1 in the Prep League, good for a league championship, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. It was the farthest Pasadena Poly ever had gone in postseason.

For her dedication and leading the Panthers to accomplishing their goals, Weber is the Star-News’ 2008-09 girls basketball Coach of the Year.

The expectations for this season were simple: Beat Chadwick and Flintridge Prep and get past the second round of the playoffs.

“Setting those goals, displaying them in the locker room, talking about them repeatedly, made them attainable,” Weber said.

Mission accomplished.

“We had an amazing season,” Weber said. “I’m so proud our all the girls on the team. I was glad we were so successful, especially, for our seniors, Kelly Pray and Tammy Newman.

“There were high expectations for this year’s team – we’d only lost one starter – and gained arguably one of the best basketball players I’ve had the chance to work with, Michelle Miller, just a freshman. There is no doubt that her presence helped increase our practice and game intensities and, of course, our scoring and defensive capabilities.”

Weber, husband and Panthers boys basketball coach Brad Hall and 3-year-old son Bobby welcomed a healthy Bradford Hall (9 pounds, 8 ounces) into the world on March 18.

Just a day before giving birth, Weber was in the Star-News office having her picture taken for this honor.

Make that well-deserved honor.

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485

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