Culver City Observer -

Whew: Culver Girls Turn Defeat Into Victory

Tanita's Three-Point Shot Does It

 

February 12, 2015

Fred Altieri

Lindsey Tanita with the game on the line

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

It was the 2015 Ocean League girls basketball game of the year. Current three-year league champion Culver City High was on the road and on the ropes very late in the match and new-league upstart El Segundo High was the one landing the shots.

The Centaur starting lineup of seniors Lindsey Tanita, Megan Yoon, Gwen Machado, Katie Lin and junior Kailey Tooke were down 40-38 with less than one minute remaining in the game.

At stake was Culver's 36-game league winning streak and their quest for a fourth consecutive league title.

Tooke grabbed a rebound with 55 seconds on the clock, passed it to Culver playmaker Tanita who dribbled down the sideline and passed it into the left corner where shooting specialist Lin was set.

El Segundo covered Lin immediately so she passed back to Tanita who was a good four feet beyond the three-point line. She assessed the defense for a few seconds and suddenly launched the long three-point dagger with 42 seconds on the clock. The screaming home crowd fell silent while the Centaur bench erupted in celebration and a 41-40 lead.

Several timeouts, one turnover, a successful Tanita free throw, one huge rebound by Machado, a desperation full court dash and a just-missed game-winning attempt by the Eagles at the buzzer gave Culver a well-earned 42-40 victory and El Segundo the heartbreak of the year.

The Centaurs clinched their fourth consecutive Ocean League title on the road two nights later on Friday, February 6, as they beat an equally determined Santa Monica High squad, 48-36, which was playing with extra adrenaline on its Senior Night.

Lin, the Centaurs outside scoring threat, gave her on-court perspective of the El Segundo game and a special insight into both teams' surprising and intimate relationship despite only having played two games against each other:

"At the end of the game when Lindsey hit that three everyone was going crazy. But I turned to coach Julian (head coach Julian Anderson) and saw him telling everyone: "Calm down." So instead of letting us go crazy he was telling us to don't freak out: "Just stay calm and play good defense.

"At least five girls on El Segundo grew up with us playing basketball. Actually Megan Yoon and I play on the same travel team with two of their girls: Sydney Hongo and Sarah Chang.

"We play against Lindsey Tanita and Gwen Machado. There is also Paige Endo and Hannah Nonoguchi who are younger. But we all know each other," laughed Lin.

Culver didn't feel that secure early on: "A lot of the times teams will come in and see us as kind of short. They think we don't look that difficult to beat so they don't know what to expect. But we didn't really have that advantage against El Segundo.

"We were at their gym so everyone was screaming. It was loud. By the end of the first quarter we felt like it was too close. Usually we'll pull away in the second quarter. Our 23-15 lead in the second quarter felt a little more comfortable. But the third quarter was really bad for us."

El Segundo stormed into the third quarter and outscored Culver 20-7 to lead 35-30. Eagle point guard Paige Endo led the way with sublime decisions and scoring. Lin knows her game well: "Paige just was on-point. She was on fire.

"She's usually pretty aggressive, likes to drive and dish a lot. She usually doesn't shoot that much. But they were hitting all their shots. There was a stream of shots where I felt like she wouldn't miss. And she wasn't missing. And we couldn't hit our shots. I was really off."

Lin on Coach Anderson: "Our coach goes over a lot of different scenarios that could happen during the games. Something that he really stresses is that we keep our composure no matter what's going on. Winning the league championships for the past four years definitely helps in having the right mindset during games.

Fred Altieri

Katie Lin launches a three

"Coach Mark (assistant coach Mark Kitabayashi) was kind of glad we had that game. It was the first time we were put in that situation so it was good that we had something to challenge us to see what we would do. He was really glad that we were able to pull it out."

Lin laughed as she described the team's success: "We were really relieved that we didn't let that one get away. I thought about our 36-game winning streak because I haven't lost a league game in my whole high school career. I said: "Whoa! We might lose this one. But no! We're not going to let it happen.

"Last year we would have been looking for Michelle Curry. "Where's Michelle? We need her to score." Now we pass it around until something happens because everyone can score. And luckily Lindsey was able to do that. So that was clutch. Yeah, that was good."

 

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