Defense wins championships. At least that’s the popular belief. Of course, you still have to score points, or there will be a lot of scoreless ties.
Members of the 2009 All-Area girls basketball team can do both, score and play defense.
Boy, can they play defense!
Player of the Year Andrina Rendon, arguably the area’s most complete package, leads the group. St.Paul’s 5-foot-8 junior forward averaged 23.3 points a game, the program’s second-best numbers all time, seven rebounds a game and was one of the Del Rio League co-champion Swordsmen’s (19-10, 6-2) key defenders in the lane.
The rest of the All-Area first team features players from programs whose success primarily was generated by aggressive, in-your-face defense, willing to take a charge and sacrifice a body in pursuit of loose balls and rebounds.
Whittier’s Kala (kah-LAH) Amico, a 5-foot-5 senior point guard, averaged 13.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and six assists, shot 70 percent form the free throw line and was among the area leaders with 42 3-point baskets in leading the Cardinals to a 23-5 record and the Del Rio League championship (10-0).
But it was her helter-skelter, not-stop approach to defense that included 99 steals and a multitude of other disruptions that marked her for opposing coaches. If you had the ball, you knew she was coming, just not from where.
Ericka Arroyo-Villeza, California’s (13-14, 6-4) bundle of energy, 5-foot-2 senior guard who helped break opponents’ press and then orchestrated the Condors’ attack, averaged 7.8 points and nearly five steals a game. Like the others on the all-area team, her physical approach sets her apart from — and above — the norm.
Ivory Hallstein, a Condor teammate, brings size (6-feet tall) and creativity to the center position. Just a sophomore, she averaged 12.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and two assists. Just as important, she was a force inside with 48 blocks and forcing penetrators to alter their shots.
Whittier Christian’s Whitley Brown, a 5-10 senior forward, was healthy again after spending much of her junior season recovering from knee surgery following her sophomore year. An excellent passer and rebounder, she averaged 11.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, nearly three assists and two steals for the Cardinals (16-12, 3-7). She also made 30 3-point baskets.
Luna Amico, who formed with twin Kala the area’s most potent one-two pressure defensive combination, also was one of the area’s top offensive players. A 5-6 senior forward/guard, she averaged 14.3 points and made 54 3-point baskets. She also was one of the area’s best rebounders, averaging 8.1 per game, half of them off the offensive board.