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La Jolla Country Day School’s girls basketball team, the San Diego Section’s highest ranked team in the state and thus best hope for a state title, plays its next round of the post-season Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Cox Arena.

That is not a typographical error. EIGHT-THIRTY IN THE MORNING!

Yes, I’m talking about girls basketball and not cross country, a sport in which early start times aren’t uncommon.

LJCDS is No. 1-ranked in San Diego Section, No. 1 in the state in Division IV and No. 15 in the state for all divisions. The Torreys’

roster includes University of San Diego-bound guard Dominique Conners, Arizona State-bound center Janae Fulcher and Utah State-bound Chelsea Burns.

In other words, they‘re a team a lot of true basketball fans would want to see.

What makes the matchup more intriguing is LJCDS’s opponent — Bishops, a team ranked No. 7 in the state in Division IV.

The Knights are led by Lousiana-Lafayette-bound Michelle Brunker and two juniors, Gizelle Studevent and Inga Orekhova, that will be among the state’s top-ranked girls basketball recruits next year. Orekhova is injured, or you could safety say there would be at least a half-dozen Division I college athletes on the floor.

What created the scheduling problem is both the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion and SDSU’s Cox Arena have home games Saturday night for their men.

That meant the CIF San Diego Section office had to squeeze in 10 championship games (five divisions boys, five divisions girls) in a day and a half instead of two days.

The CIF is always talking about “the CIF experience” for students when it defends the proliferation of water-downed playoffs with so many divisions.

But is playing such an important game at 8:30 a.m. more an experience to treasure?

It’s time for the CIF office to explore taking the CIF championships back to the Sports Arena. The cost might be prohibitive, but the idea should be explored.

In football and baseball, the CIF is fortunate to benefit from the Chargers and Padres. Without the Chargers paying for the use of Qualcomm Stadium, the high school championship games couldn’t call Qualomm home.

This year, the Padres are inviting 10 teams to play five games over two days at Petco Park.

What about San Diego’s NBA team helping out?

Oh, yeah. Donald Sterling hi-jacked the San Diego Clippers. He ran the franchise into the ground after it drew solid crowds under former owner Irv Levin so he could move it to Los Angeles.

If you don’t think San Diego deserves better for its basketball teams, you weren’t here in the 1978-79 season when Lloyd Free, Randy Smith, Kermit Washington and Swen Nater made the Sports Arena a place to watch basketball.

— TOM SHANAHAN

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