By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

Gyms throughout Crescent City will be full of junior high girls displaying their basketball prowess beginning Friday at the 34th annual Crescent Elk Girls Basketball Tournament.

Approximately 40 teams, including several Crescent City squads, consisting of girls playing at different division levels, will partake in the two-day tournament. Each team will participate in three games. The event is being co-hosted and coordinated by the Crescent City Jaycees.

Danny Dye, head coach of the Crescent Elk Middle School Cougars A's eighth-grade squad and the seventh- grade A's team, said the tournament brings-out squads throughout the region displaying the high skill set of the girls participating.

andquot;No matter what division you're in, the girls know that the teams coming are going to be good,andquot; he said. andquot;You're seeded on your win-loss record and the level of your competition.andquot;

Teams participating include squads from Redding, throughout Humboldt County, Smith River and Orick, which has girls from Klamath taking part.

The eighth-grade girls are participating in the highest division, the AAA. The seventh-grade girls are in the B division.

Dye said his teams, which began their season in November, are excited to be part of such a large and competitive tournament.

andquot;This is a cumulation of a lot of hard work over the last two and three months,

he said.

On Wednesday, the girls were at the middle school gym preparing for the big game by participating in a number of drills, from passing to going for the lay-up.

Eighth-grader Angela McQuillen is thrilled to be part of a tournament that has become a tradition in town.

McQuillen has been playing basketball for a number of years and said it's something she has gravitated to since she was little.

andquot;Since I could walk I would walk around with a basketball,andquot; she said

Rachael Lawerence, an eighth- grader, said she is looking forward to competing.

andquot;It's a lot more fun to have good competition than to easily win,andquot; she said. andquot;It makes the game more interesting.andquot;

Dye said the tournament has earned quite a sterling reputation over the years. He has seen people wearing sweatshirts from the tournament at events in the Bay Area.

andquot;It carries some clout,andquot; he said. andquot;It has a good reputation attached to it.andquot;

Dye has been impressed with the skills of the girls who have participated in the tournament and said each year, the level of play in the area has continued to increase.

andquot; I think college coaches are finally seeing what's going on here and that there's talent up here,andquot; he said

The seventh-grade girls team was not originally scheduled to participate. But they came in when another team dropped out.

andquot;They are excited to be participating,andquot; Dye said. andquot;It's another notch in their basketball resume.andquot;

andquot;I think it will be fun to go against teams with more experience because you can learn more from them,andquot; seventh-grader Roxann Dowd said.

The Crescent Elk A's eighth-grade team plays it's first game at 5:30 p.m. Friday versus McKinleyville at the high school. The seventh-graders play Douglas City at 7:30 p.m. at the Redwood School gym.

The boys' junior high squads are just starting tryouts. The boys Jaycees tournament is scheduled for March.