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  • Page 30 January 7, 2016 Thousand Oaks Acorn

    The Regentsin a nutshell

    Head coach Steve Wexler (fi rst year)

    Starters Sydelle Callahan, PG Brianna Biezins, SG Jillian Philpott, F Alexia Palmeri, F Chigo Chukwu, C* Helena Alex, C*

    Bench mob Megan Sauter Dana Quandt Kari Schmitz Nicole Zagari Alexis Macias

    Top 3-point shooter Sydelle Callahan

    Lockdown defender Alexia Palmeri

    Next game6 p.m. today at Santa Monica* Chukwu and Alex split starts

    Photos by JOAN PAHOYO/Acorn Newspapers

    BUCKETSSydelle Callahan, a junior point guard, entered the week leading La Reina Highs basketball team with 12.8 points per game.

    Regents move to musicGIRLS BASKETBALL REPORT /// La Reina Regents

    La Reina squad hits hardwood in search of Tri-Valley League glory

    TEAM DJJillian Philpott, left, is a senior captain and forward for the Regents, who started 4-5 this year.

    DID YOU KNOW

    La Reina basketball assistant coach/assistant athletic director Lauren

    Rasmussen set a Cal Lutheran womens track and field record in

    the 400-meter hurdles at 1 minute, 5.12 seconds in 2012, a record broken a year later by Amanda

    Hamilton. Rasmussen, a Solvang native, has her name attached to the universitys 4x400 relay (3:53.12) with Lauren Rohach,

    Melissa Muntzel and Julea Juarez.

    ? ?

    By Eliav Appelbaumeliav@theacorn.com

    La Reina High basketball players migrate onto the court. Theyre ready for practice, but theres something missing. Jillian Philpott, a senior cap-tain and forward, plugs her phone into speakers, and music, ranging from Michael Jackson to contemporary bubblegum pop, blares while the Regents complete their drills. Shes our DJ, head coach Steve Wexler said of Philpott. La Reina is a very close team. Eight of 11 players are varsity returners, and most of the six seniors have played every season together at La Reina. Were pretty much sisters, said Brianna Butter Biezins, a senior captain and shooting guard. Close bonds translate into buckets on the hardwood. The Regents started this sea-son 4-5, but three of the losses were by a combined eight points. Wexler said La Reina lost those three nail-biters, in no small part, to excavating DeAndre Jordan depths of free-throw shooting. The squad made a combined 21-of-52 shots from the char-ity stripe, a 40 percent clip, in setbacks to Oak Park (40-37), Milken (47-45 in overtime) and Calabasas (43-40). La Reina, however, thrives in Wexlers up-tempo offensive ap-proach. It all starts with giving his players confi dence to fi re away. I tell the girls to never turn down an open shot, the fi rst-year head coach said. Ive dialed that down to never turn down an open reasonable shot. Shoot the ball. If youre not go-

    ing to shoot the ball, youre not going to play. Wexler, La Reinas junior varsity coach last season, played basketball and baseball at Cala-basas before graduating in 1983. Hes coached basketball for 15 years. La Reina alternates between a 2-3 zone and man defense in games. The Regents excel by sharing the ball on offense. Only one player, junior point guard Sydelle Callahan, averages double fi gures in points. Callahan, who played at Chaminade as a freshman, does a little bit of everything for the Regents. She entered the week averag-ing 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game. Callahan learned tough love in one-on-one battles on the portable hoop in her front yard with her older brothers, Stanley, now 25, and Parker, 20, who played hoops at Crespi for coach Russell White.

    I got really tough playing against them, the youngest Cal-lahan sibling said. You cant get into your emotions. Theyd go harder on me if I started cry-ing. It was good to learn that at a young age. Callahan always plays hard. I just like getting out on the court and playing my heart out, she said. Callahan, whose favorite player is Kobe Bryant, is active in the Diversity Club and Com-edySportz on campus. Philpott is an athletic wing who rebounds well. Shes not afraid to take a shot under pres-sure. The captain said she enjoys spending time with her coaches and teammates. I always enjoy coming to practice, Philpott said. I never dread coming. Philpott was also captain of the tennis team in the fall for the Tri-Valley League runner-ups. The Regent hails from a fam-ily of dancers; her older sisters and La Reina grads, Megan and Kaitlyn, grew up dancing. In fi fth grade, Jillian Philpott decided to try something newbasketball. She was the only girl on her fi rst hoops team at the local YMCA. Shes adjusted nicely on the court. Shes active in the Regent Ambassadors and is a retreat leader; she led a junior retreat at Camp Bloomfi eld in Malibu last month. The honors student with a 4.0 grade-point average is also co-president of Regents 4 Charity. Philpott and the Regents are ready for Tri-Valley League ac-tion to tip off on Tues., Jan. 12 at home against Nordhoff. The toughest tests in league will come against 11-2 Santa Clara on Jan. 26 at home and Feb. 11 on the road. We need to play smart and be under control, Philpott said, and hit our shots.

    Biezins patrols the wing for La Reina. The captain has played on the varsity squad for all four seasons at the Thousand Oaks school. Shes improved her ball handling and perimeter shooting. She has strong court vision. Shes been playing basketball for a decade and had bouts suit-ing up for local club and travel squads, the Conejo Quakes and Westlake Travel. The multisport athlete also competes in 200-yard freestyle races for the swim team in the spring. Biezins plays her best basket-ball when she fi nds a rhythm. You have to think but not think, she said. It takes a lot of work and a lot of practice. You play your best when youre not thinking but knowing what youre supposed to do. Biezins volunteers at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center. The honors student with a 4.0 GPA is very active at St. Paschal Baylon Parish: Shes a peer leader for the confi rmation program, vice president of youth ministry, and tutors math and science to younger students at

    the church. She wants to study chemical engineering in college. Her younger sister, Angela, is a seventh-grade basketball play-er for St. Paschal and the Conejo Quakes. Her brother Andrejs, 8, plays CYBA basketball. Alexia Palmeri is a talented senior forward. The defensive maestro entered the week av-eraging 7.9 points and 6.5 re-bounds per game while shooting a team-best 47 percent from the fi eld. Shes extremely aggressive, Wexler said of Palmeri. Shes a very good shooter whos steady under pressure. Megan Sauter and Dana Quandt are senior guards. Kari Schmitz, a forward, is also a senior. Helena Georgia Alex is a junior center. She averaged 6.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per outing at press time. She has a great attitude, the coach said of Alex. She has very good post moves and provides a great defensive presence. Chigo Chukwu is a 6-foot-1 junior center. She shared the team lead in rebounds with Palm-eri with 52 boards through her fi rst eight appearances. Chukwu shoots and rebounds well, and she alters shots on defense. Nicole Zagari, a sophomore, provides depth in the post. Alexis Macias is a junior forward. Lauren Rasmussen is the as-sistant coach. Rasmussen, who starred for Cal Lutherans track and fi eld team at hurdling and sprinting, is La Reinas assistant athletic director. She also assists cross country and track squads for the Regents. Our goal, like every other Tri-Valley League team, is to win league and advance far in the playoffs, Wexler said.