Culver City Observer -

Culver Girls Win Opening Tournament

 

December 4, 2014

Fred Altieri

The Tournament Champions

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

Centaur basketball fans... we have a liftoff. It's T+5 and counting for the Culver City High girls basketball team as they have successfully completed stage one of the 2014-15 season by beating View Park High, 56-47, in the championship game of the Inaugural Culver City / St. Mary's Tip-Off Classic on November 29 at home in Del Goodyear Gymnasium.

The Centaurs won all five of their tournament games in six days with relative ease though View Park gave them a slight push late in the second half before a Megan Yoon three-pointer and seven free throws in the final quarter sealed the affair. Kailey Tooke led Culver in scoring with 14 points while Yoon added 13.

Twelve schools competed in the tournament: Culver, St. Mary's of Inglewood, View Park, Leuzinger, St. Genevieve, Heritage Christian, St. Bernard, Crenshaw, Santa Monica, San Gabriel Mission, Venice and Crossroads.

Leading up to the finals, Culver beat Crossroads, 38-25; San Gabriel Mission, 70-13; St. Bernard, 77-36, and St. Genevieve, 61-36.

Culver head coach Julian Anderson spoke of progress throughout the week culminating with a steady start against View Park: "I thought we came out really sharp. We were clicking. The shots were falling. The defense was good. I did want the girls to make some minor adjustments but other than that we played a strong first half. We were up by 20 points at one point."

"Getting over the first couple of games helped out a lot. There's no better experience than game experience. We've been practicing forever. Even during the fall league practices they don't mimic the actual in-season games. By the third game I thought we'd found our rhythm."

The Centaurs took immediate control against View Park as Tooke hit four baskets for nine points in the first quarter for a 16-5 lead. Yoon took over in the second quarter with eight points including the first of her team-leading two three-pointers. Culver had a 31-17 halftime lead.

Coach Anderson saw that lead shrink to seven points with 3:39 remaining in the game: "In the fourth quarter fatigue set in for us. Some of my girls are playing a lot of minutes. So I switched the lineup up between different positions. It's very difficult to continue what we're doing when we have to do things like that. I just didn't have the luxury of going deep on the bench. So I had to keep a couple of starters in the game."

A timeout and a few possessions later Yoon's left-corner baseline bomb cemented Culver's lead, 55-45, with 2:31 on the clock. The Knights kept within reach by converting nine free throws in the fourth quarter but the Centaurs more than countered that with 18 free throws made during the game.

Also scoring for the first place trophy winners: centers Gwen Machado and Billie Cricton had five points each, Lindsey Tanita, Kate Suyetsugu and Morgan Williams tossed in four each. Katie Lin added three free throws during the first quarter run.

The Centaurs' unofficial individual scoring totals through five games: Katie Lin – 68 points; Kailey Tooke – 57; Megan Yoon – 45; Billie Crichton – 43; Kate Suyetsugu – 27; Gwen Machado – 16; Alex Arancibia – 16; Lindsey Tanita - 12; and Morgan Williams – 9. But individual scoring is very likely to change as the season progresses.

Anderson: "We're going to have to win and play by committee. The scoring is not going to come from one individual. We have to move the ball and be confident that whoever is open is going to take the shot. So at any given moment there might be a player who has the hot hand. I don't think the same person is constantly going to average the same each game."

The girls are now entering the next two stages of their season despite only having an active roster of nine players to date: four games at the McDonald's Classic in El Paso beginning Thursday of this week and a return to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic in late December for another round of tournament games.

Anderson also spoke of the team's mindset after their Monday night practice: "The girls are not satisfied with winning the first tournament out the gate. It's an accomplishment, something fun to do but the girls understand that there's a bigger picture down the road."

Fred Altieri

Kailey Tooke

"I hope the girls are ready for Texas. I tried to stop them at practice a little earlier today. I'll try to go an hour and a half tomorrow. I'm hoping they can push through it but they should be okay. They're young so they should be able to handle the schedule.

"We'll have a good time. The Las Vegas tournament is probably going to be harder than the Texas trip."

The first three tournament stages are part of Anderson's overall design to prepare the team to defend its Ocean League and CIF Playoff titles beginning early next year:

"There's work to be done but I have a lot of returners," he said. "They're doing well in practices but it's been going like that now for a few years now. I think my team has a second gear and sometimes even a third. But we still have some fine-tuning to do. There's a balance between fine-tuning and making sure that the team is rested."

 

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