Chaminade Ends Culver's March in Playoffs
Michelle Curry blasts through opponents
By Fred Altieri
Even great dreams and journeys must come to an end. And the campus of Chaminade High in West Hills was that final stop for the Culver City High girls basketball team as the Centaurs lost in the CIF State Division 2 semifinals to the Eagles on Tuesday night, 76-46.
The Centaurs brought an 18-game winning streak into the contest against a squad that is realistically and was officially a CIF Open Division team during the recent Southern Section playoffs. Why and how the CIF playoff organizing committee moved Chaminade two divisions down in classification are questions to be raised and concerned with for another day.
Culver came out motivated and held its own early on against the much bigger and highly-recruited private school team. They were loudly cheered on by the parents, fans and cheer teams who came out in big numbers again to support their beloved team as they've done all year. The fact that there were more Centaur supporters in the bleachers than there were for the home crowd spoke volumes about their commitment to the program.
The Centaurs defiantly grabbed a 17-15 early lead only to see the Eagles retake the lead, 20-17, at the end of the first quarter. Centaur head coach Julian Anderson knew the score: "We ran into a better team and at the end of the day they'll probably win the whole thing. I'm very proud of the girls. I thought they played hard. As long as they give 100% that's all you can ask for."
Chaminade assumed control in the second quarter and never let up the constant defensive pressure on Culver for the rest of the game.
Anderson explained the conditions: "Our missing free throws hurt us early in the game. They kept pounding away on us and wore us down. It was like a boxing match. We were taking them, taking them and giving them, giving them. Then sooner or later we took a big blow. It wore us down."
The Centaurs could only manufacture seven points in the second quarter and were down 35-24 at halftime. The deficit increased by the end of the third quarter, 54-37, with most of Culver's scoring coming from Michelle Curry, who ended up with 12 points for the game and Katie Lin who scored all seven of her points in the third.
Kelsey Ueda, who scored a Culver game-high 15 points, kept leading a charge in the fourth quarter but it was not enough essentially due to the Eagles' physical advantage.
Anderson: "Chaminade's height forced us to shoot uncharacteristic shots. They got us to play a little outside of the speed that we like to play in. It took us away from our shooting."
But the Centaurs kept fighting and competing to the very end despite the clock winding down and with it their remarkable season coming to its end.
Anderson was impressed: "Even the girls that came into the game for the last few minutes put in a great effort. I'm proud and we're going to celebrate still. I thought the girls did great. It's cool that we got this far. We accomplished a lot."
One thing is certain: this 2013-14 edition of the Culver High girls basketball team will go down as a truly class act that set new milestones and established a new standard for student/athlete success at the school.
Inspired all season long by the three seniors who had just played their last game for Culver High: Kelli Tademaru, Kelsey Ueda and Michelle Curry, the Centaur girls are still the reigning CIF Southern Section Division 2AA champions. Their achievements will shine for years to come.