Centaur Girls Continue Their Surge
By Fred Altieri
It's beginning to play like a broken record but it certainly sounds like a finely tuned instrument. The Culver City High girls basketball team won two more 2013-14 Ocean League contests to retain sole possession of first place with a 6-0 record.
And they did it rather handily once again compliments of pin-point shooting from three-point range.
Even head coach Julian Anderson has been impressed with the team's recent exploits, "We're shooting the ball unbelievably well right now. No matter what level of team we play against we still have to put the ball in the basket. And we're doing that fairly well.
"It's hard to talk about because I don't want to jinx the situation. We don't know how long this will last. We're actually shooting better from the three-point line than we are from two-point range."
Last Wednesday night's home contest against Beverly Hills High began in familiar fashion with the Centaur girls taking a commanding lead from the opening jump ball. The starting squad of Megan Yoon, Kailie Tooke, Lindsey Tanita, Michelle Curry and Kelsey Ueda gave Culver a 14-1 lead less than four minutes into the game and never looked back.
They led 29-5 after the first quarter against an energetic and pressing Norman game plan. The onslaught subsided by halftime but the Centaurs were still pulling away, 44-15.
The Culver defense got seemingly tighter even as Anderson emptied his bench. Beverly would only score five points in the second half and the Centaurs were in cruise control when the final buzzer sounded, 73-21.
Anderson, however, sees room for improvement with his team's defense. "I think we have a lot of work to do defensively," he said. "We've done a decent job at adjusting to certain offenses and maybe certain things that we've seen over and over again. But we still have a lot of work to do in terms of defense. It's not as sharp as I would like it to be."
He is also intent on shoring up the team's rebounding, "We have to do a better job of rebounding the ball. I think we're excellent in boxing out. It's something that we emphasize on a daily basis. We're not a big team. So we have to rebound by committee and we haven't done that to the way I would like to see it."
He continued, "I'm pretty critical in that area right now. It's hurting us against the better teams like Serra, West Torrance and teams like that. When we're playing against teams that are good in the post area then we need that extra help. As good as our girls are, we end up not winning some games that we could have won."
Friday night's game at Morningside High in Inglewood was a perfect complimentary Side B flipside as the Centaurs came busting out of the blocks with their three-point arsenal in prime motion to sweep the Monarchs, 60-20. Culver opened up a quick lead, Morningside got within two points at 11-9 and then it was time for the Centaur bombs to start dropping from beyond the arc.
As the saying goes, "That was all she wrote."
Anderson has witnessed hot shooting during his coaching career but perhaps not to this extent. "We shot upwards to 83% in the first half from the three-point line. What do you say to that? I've never really seen it. I've had really good shooting teams but I've never really seen a team that's on-point for this many games. I can only hope it continues."
The most satisfying aspect is that it's coming from more than a few of his players. "The most amazing part is that most of our girls coming into the game are hitting a majority of their shots right now," said Anderson.
" You can attribute that to Michelle in the post or just sharing the ball. It's been nice. I've got to be honest."
The team concept is beginning to really gel since Curry joined the Centaur girls a few games before the league action began and has forced opponents to further reconsider their game plans in dealing with such added pressure from Culver's anchor at the post position. Curry is a transfer from St. Bernard High.
Anderson expounded and gave his girls credit for the team chemistry.
"Michelle brings a whole other dimension to the game," said Anderson. "The other teams have to pay her some attention or they'll end up in trouble. However they address her, they almost have to pick their poison. The girls love playing with her. It's amazing how well she's fit in."
The Centaurs' success has been a genuine team effort, which pleases the coach. "We're definitely sharing the ball. We have somebody different with the most shot attempts every single game. They like sharing the ball. I don't hear any egos right now. It's hard to say. It's unusual to shoot that well. It's good and I hope it continues."