When Turlock High won last year's Central California Conference girls basketball title, it was the school's first in 25 years. It was no fluke, either, as the 'Dogs clinched a second title Feb. 10. Here are a few reasons Turlock is celebrating again, according to coach Salinda Mabie and assistant Margie Walker:
Natalie Dykzeul (5 points, 5 rebounds, 1.7 steals per game): The 5-foot-9-inch forward, one of four freshmen on last year's 23-6 team, is counted on for rebounding and defense. She gets whatever points she can by scrapping for balls under the basket. "Natalie's No. 1 job is to stop the other team's post. She's very good at blocking out and she's aggressive."
Candace Sakuda (7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.6 steals): The 5-10 junior spent last season learning her position from all-CCC forward Samantha Bertoman. Now she's in the lineup, providing points, rebounds and defense. "She's averaging six rebounds and getting a block or two a game. She's capable of 12 to 14 points when we need her scoring."
Rachel Finnegan (15.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 4 steals): The 5-9 senior has been the point guard since arriving four years ago. "Rachel's a natural with the ball. I saw her in eighth grade take a rebound and pass it from the free-throw line to a girl under the other basket, like she had done it all her life."
Camille Roberts (9.2 points, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals): A 5-6 sophomore guard, she is alongside Finnegan but capable of swapping roles with her teammate and running the offense. "She leads us in 3-point shots and is one of five girls who have played together since the fourth grade at Sacred Heart. Now she has the confidence to not only take the open shot, but to make it."
Nicole Serpa (8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals): One of six sophomores on the roster, the 5-6 guard has made up for lost time after missing last year because of shoulder surgery. "She has great court sense and can play the point, which gives us a lot of options. She's still working on taking the ball to the hole. She's her own worst critic, so she's always working on getting better."
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA