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Private schools favored to repeat in TVL, SL
Rachel Rodriguez, a fourth-year varsity starter, is Ripon High’s top post player. The Indians will lean on her during a tough TVL schedule. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Modesto Christian and Turlock Christian aren’t sporting winning records, but don’t be fooled.

They are still the girls basketball teams to beat in their respective leagues.

Ripon High (9-3) and a host of others are chasing Modesto Christian in the Trans Valley League, where the Crusaders are undefeated in four seasons.

In the Southern League, Turlock Christian reigns as champion, but a new challenge arises in the form of Ripon Christian (8-3), formerly of the TVL.

Both Modesto Christian and Turlock Christian are 5-6 and head into conference play having lost all of their games in the competitive West Coast Jamboree — a massive weeklong event consisting of multiple tournaments at different sites in Contra Costa County.

Modesto Christian finished last in the Platinum Division, the toughest bracket in the Jamboree.

The Crusaders will be tough to match in the TVL despite the graduation loss of two-time MVP Brandi Henton, who now plays for Long Beach State.

Four-year varsity players Danielle Thompson, a 6-foot-1 forward, and guard Vanessa Cagle are joined by freshman wing Charise Holloway, the team’s leading scorer.

Ripon will likely provide MC its stiffest challenge in league after taking second last year.

Hilmar (9-3), which won the Ripon Christian Tournament last week, and Orestimba (7-4) hope to make an immediate impact after moving from the Western Athletic Conference.

Riverbank is a dark horse with three returning four-year varsity players: Kaitlynn Deabenderfer, Aimee Felix and Breanne Magana. Janelle Luu, a 5-10 freshman, is the Bruins’ top scorer.

Hughson (6-7) may have trouble making the playoffs because of the league’s depth, and Escalon (5-10) continues to rebuild.

In the SL, Turlock Christian will again have to make do without 5-11 standout guard Halie Bergman, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at the start of conference action last year. She reaggravated the injury over the summer and will sit out until 2011-12.

The Eagles are well equipped to go back-to-back without her. Their front court is stacked, led by 6-2 junior Marly Burton, 6-foot Kaisa Spycher and 5-9 Molly Farrar.

Waterford (6-4) and RC are the best of the rest, while Mariposa (5-8), Denair (4-9), Gustine (2-8), Delhi and Le Grand round out the league.