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AOW: LeBaron puts 'Cats back in title hunt

February 06, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

With the Imperial Valley League girls basketball title still up for grabs, Brawley Union High's Lisa LeBaron brought her team a little closer with double-doubles in two Wildcat victories last week.

LeBaron, a 17-year-old senior, wears No. 23 in something of a tribute to Michael Jordan. And LeBaron has come up big in clutch situations, just like M.J.

On Jan. 30 she scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in Brawley's 69-49 ripping of Southwest.

Then, in a crucial IVL contest against then-undefeated Calexico on Thursday, she scored 23 points and totaled 11 rebounds as the Wildcats won 57-36.

At 5-foot-11, LeBaron has stood head and shoulders above her competition in becoming arguably the best girls basketball player in the Valley.


LeBaron knew both opposing coaches were scheming to shut her down last week. Unfortunately for her opponents, that fueled her fire even more.

"Last week I was really fired up and ready for those games," said LeBaron, a four-year varsity letterman. "I knew they were trying to stop me and that just motivated me and fired me up even more."

Her fire turned into a roaring inferno as she dominated the offensive and defensive ends.

"They tried to shut me down, but I was able to make it work," LeBaron said.

While she scored well above her 16.4 per game average, what may have been the difference was her play on the glass. Against Southwest, Brawley won the battle of the boards 35-20, allowing for more second chances. For LeBaron that is key.

"Rebounding is very crucial. Rebounding, a lot of the times, can determine a game," said LeBaron, who is averaging nine rebounds. "This year I've really tried to improve on that, especially offensive rebounds. Getting the offensive rebounds helps give me more shots."

Because the underclassmen-laden Wildcats don't have a lot of experience, LeBaron has stepped up in clutch situations.

Said Wildcat coach Mike Pacheco: "She's really got a lot of experience and in the big games we know we can go to her. Lisa's one of the players we can depend on and I think because of her experience and ability she is probably the best in the Valley."

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