Culver City Observer -

A Great Night For The Culver Girls

Tooke Scores 46 In Comeback Playoff Win

 

February 25, 2016

Fred Altieri

Victory!

The rebirth of the composure and character was defined for Culver City High girls basketball on Saturday night, February 20, at Del Goodyear Gymnasium.

The Centaurs rallied from behind to upset Long Beach power Millikan High, 72-69 in the second Round of the 2016 CIF Division 1AA Playoffs.

Kailey Tooke, Culver's leading scorer for the past two seasons, had her finest game as a Centaur. It wasn't that she scored an unprecedented 46 points or dominated the backboards, it was her manner and demeanor that inspired her teammates and swept the crowd and the day.

"It was nothing short of amazing. There are no words for it. I was extremely impressed with the way the girls played. It was one of those things where we didn't know where we were and how good we were until that moment," said Centaur head coach Julian Anderson.

"I didn't even realize Tooke had 46 points. We knew she was playing well. She put the team on her back offensively but 46 points..."The Silent Assassin."

You can never tell because she doesn't bring a lot of attention to herself."

Millikan immediately put pressure on Culver both offensively and defensively. The Rams started the game off by hitting five 3-point bombs and 22-13 lead going into the second quarter. Tooke scored 10 points in the quarter while Kate Suyetsugu hit a 3-point shot

The Centaurs' offensive balance improved in the second quarter as they scored 17 points but the deficit grew as Millikan hit 10 field goals for 23 points and a 45-20 halftime lead. Alexis Arancibia, Amy Yoon, Windy Yoon and Heaven Cooper along with Tooke's eight points added to Culver's scoring for the quarter.

Anderson: "I thought we were playing decent basketball in the first half. It was one of those games where we felt that maybe we were a little out-matched for a while. We had 15 turnovers in the first half. Mix that up with giving up 3-point shots in transition.

"The conversation at halftime was: "They're not beating us, we're beating ourselves." Every once in a while you can look into your team's eyes and you can see a team that's engaged and ready to fight and compete.

"By the time we walked out at halftime the girls' energy level, their mentality, mindset, just everything told me that even if we lost that game they were willing to go out fighting. I felt very confident and comfortable that the girls weren't just going to lie down."

Culver came out firing in the third quarter as they began to whittle at Millikan's lead. Tooke kept driving and scoring with her patented baseline floater. Cooper hit a three and a driving 10-footer. Suyetsugu scored a basket. Culver's team defense started getting stops while the Rams began missing their shots.

"At the start of the third quarter the whole game plan was to get the game down to ten points. And the faster we could do that the faster we could knock it down by five. It was about taking one bite at a time. Once we got it below ten going into the fourth quarter it gave us a lot of confidence."

Tooke continued to score within the flow of the game as if she was flying under the radar. Her 12 points and defensive prowess in the quarter also brought out the best in her teammates according to Anderson who went with mostly an experienced lineup in the second half.

"At that time of the game experience was more important. Kate and Kailey have both been through the ringer. Kate makes a huge difference even if she's not scoring with the ball"

"We needed someone who was mentally strong. It was a relief to look down the bench and see that Kate was still there. Her composure of it all is really what it comes down to. To have her to lean on I couldn't appreciate that more.

"I thought Alexis was playing extremely well. She had a lot of key rebounds and box-outs that allowed us to get rebounds. She made her presence felt. It was a really good performance.

"Heaven come back in the second half and to make her adjustments as a freshman is very impressive while helping out in a lot of different areas was big as well.

The fourth quarter turned into a nail-biting barnburner. Millikan hit the first basket for a 60-51 lead. Tooke responded with a series of floaters and driving layups that drew fouls. Windy Yoon hit two free throws. Suddenly the lead was only 60-58 with 6:02 remaining.

Tooke converted two more free throws to tie the game at 60 with 5:30 to go. The Centaurs finally took their first lead of the game, 62-60, as Tooke scored on a baseline drive at 4:52. Then Cooper added a free throw. Millikan responded with two free throws. Tooke hit a free throw.

Cooper added two clutch free throws with 3:10 to go and a 66-61 Culver lead. The game was far from over as Millikan kept pushing. Tooke pushed back with a layup for a 69-64 lead with two minutes remaining.

The Rams cut the lead to 69-67 with 29 seconds left in the game. Anderson called time out. Tooke hit a free throw. Millikan scored a basket. The Centaur girls now had a one-point lead, 70-69 with 14.5 seconds on the clock.

As if on cue Tooke hit two more free throws. Millikan missed a shot but got the ball back on a jump ball call. With 2.8 seconds the Rams brought the ball in and missed a long desperation shot. The Centaur girls and the home crowd celebrated an unlikely victory.

Fred Altieri

Kailey Tooke - pregame introduction

Anderson summed it up: "Kailey is extremely smart and heady. She knows how to react and anticipate. Watching her play the last couple of games, it's been like watching a basketball movie. The girl's an awesome basketball player.

"Millikan is a very well-coached team and always has been. They're a great basketball team. You can't take anything away from them at all. It was just one of those nights where everything was clicking for us. When that happens you don't lose too many games.

"I put this game up there with a lot of great wins throughout the past. Every single year I start the conversation the same: a great team is not measured by the games you're supposed to win but by the teams you're supposed to lose to. Those are the ones you're judged by."

 

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