With Palos Verdes' coach moving up through his high school program's ranks and Peninsula's coach returning for her 12th year, both schools have high hopes for this year's girls hoops programs.
 
Palos Verdes High

Rick Gwinn may be new to the title, but he is not new to the Palos Verdes girls basketball program.

Gwinn takes the helm of the Sea Kings, following Tom Maier. Gwinn, who is in his sixth year with PV, has served as both JV and frosh/soph coach before becoming the varsity level coach this year.

Gwinn will look to his senior class to lead the Sea Kings this year - something he knows he must rely on if the program will be successful.

"Our seniors are experienced players and bring leadership to the team," Gwinn said.

Mari Shigekawa, Sophia Aleixo and Kelli Takahashi are the group of seniors, but Gwinn noted that a trio of sophomores could play big roles this season.

Brooke Simpson, Erika Yiu and Shayli Atashi are expected to contribute at a high-level.

"(Simpson, Yiu and Atashi) are an excellent group," Gwinn said.

PV is already off to a hot start this season. The girls won the Corona Del Mar tournament, going undefeated while beating Tustin, 74-60, in the title game.

They'll compete in three more tournaments - the Santa Ana Classic, the San Dimas Edmounds Memorial Tournament and the Bonita Vista Gold Crown Holiday Tip-off.

"We play a tough nonleague schedule with most teams either in (CIF Southern Section) Division 2AA or 2A," Gwinn said. "Hopefully by the time our Bay League schedule kicks off, we'll be seasoned and ready for league play."

After finishing fourth in league play last year, Gwinn thinks it will come down to playing a hard-nosed style that will compete against league powerhouse Redondo.

"We will have to play our best, limit turnovers and play an uptempo style," Gwinn said. "Our defense will win games for us."

Peninsula High

Entering her 12th season at Peninsula, Natalie Kelly is expecting big things from the Panthers underclassmen.

And she's already seen the youth deliver.

Freshman Jadyn Lee leads the team in scoring (24 points/game).

"I have young talent this year with some of my top contributing players being underclassmen," Kelly said. "I expect my five key returners to step up more this year and compete at a higher level."

The Panthers key retainers are senior Veronica Rojas, junior Mia Yamada and sophomores Kellie Au, Jami Galdones and Eliana Hall.

Coming off an 18-win season that saw the Panthers finish second place in the Bay League, Kelly knows how tough it will be to compete for a league title.

"It will take grab team play to compete for a league title," Kelly said. "The Bay League will be tough, and its teams are well-coached and have talented players."

Peninsula's last league title came in 1999.

Kelly thinks the Panthers nonleague schedule is key in helping prepare the girls for competing for a Bay League crown.

"Our nonleague schedule will help prepare us for league and playoffs," Kelly said. "I have high expectations for this team, as we have the talent and ability to be competitive in league."

But the Panthers youth is something that causes Kelly a bit of concern.

"Since we are young and inexperienced, our nonleague schedule will give us valuable exposure and game experience."

Despite its youth, Kelly feels the key to success will be the Panthers ability to play as a team.

"We will be an uptempo, quick running team that's looking to score on fast-break opportunities," Kelly said. "We have a lot of young talent who will be keys to our success. If we play hard, play together and play our game, we will be a tough team to beat."

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