Culver City Observer -

Culver Basketball: Boys, Girls Scrap for Playoff Berths

 

February 9, 2017

Fred Altieri

Devone Yopp (12) skies towards the rim

With one game remaining in 2017 Ocean League action both the Culver City High girls and boys varsity basketball teams are fighting for a CIF playoff spot that begins next week.

Culver girls basketball is suddenly in a dogfight in the Ocean League. After having lost only one league game in the previous five seasons the Centaurs have now lost three times in the 2017 league season.

The Culver girls are currently tied for second with Santa Monica High at 6-3 after having lost on the road to the Vikings on Tuesday night, February 7, 39-33. Lawndale is alone in first place at 8-1 having suffered their only loss at Culver City last week.

The Culver boys basketball team is battling to stay in third place with playoff aspirations hanging in the wind after having lost to the Viking boys, 73-57, on Tuesday evening as well. Santa Monica, which swept the league two-game series with the Centaurs, is undefeated at 9-0 in the Ocean League.

The Centaur boys are currently 5-4 with one game remaining, Thursday's home game against Beverly Hills. The Normans are 7-2 and in second place behind league leader Santa Monica. Culver is currently one game ahead of Lawndale, who is 4-5.

The Culver Girls beat Lawndale in overtime at home last week, 51-44, in the league game of the year. The Centaurs outscored the Cardinals 8-1 in the overtime period. Lawndale had beaten Culver, 45-38, earlier in the league season.

"We kept an edge, which I thought we had all game. And we kept that edge into overtime. That's what kind of did it, being able to keep that small edge. Lawndale had definitely proven that they would compete for the win. The win was important to us," said Culver head coach Julian Anderson.

"We prepared a few days prior for Lawndale's full-court press. It was a big turn because we broke the press a lot easier than the first time we met them. We didn't seem to be scared of the press or back down from it this time around.

"I kept the bench tight. But everybody that played and everyone on the bench supported and contributed to the team. I thought that was important."

After being down by two points after the first quarter the Centaur girls tied the game at halftime, 22-22. They took a one-point lead after three quarters before Lawndale tied it at 37-37 in regulation. Amy Yoon scored five points in overtime on a field goal and three free throws. Yoon lead the team in scoring with 14 points.

Angel Morris scored a field goal and Windy Yoon added a free throw to seal the victory. Heaven Cooper scored 13 points for Culver including two three-pointers and anchored the team before fouling out in overtime.

Anderson: "We might have hit only a few three-pointers. (Culver converted five for the game) We were driving to the basket and giving the ball to Angel and Heaven who did a really good job of scoring and rebounding. Heaven had a real nice game.

"We're looking for health and to be injury-free. We still have to pass Santa Monica and Beverly to get into second place. It's not going to be easy just to walk into Santa Monica and win games. And Beverly, we have to deal with that one. Those are the two most important things and Santa Monica is the first."

The Centaur boys were trying to avenge an earlier home loss to Santa Monica. The Centaurs had a late first quarter lead in that game before the Vikings stormed back in the second half. Tuesday's game at Santa Monica saw a slightly different script.

Despite trailing by on six points in the second quarter Culver couldn't stop the Vikings' driving offense from taking a 46-26 halftime lead. The Centaurs cut the lead by six points in the third quarter and came within eight in the fourth before Santa Monica closed the door.

The Centaur boys' win against Lawndale last week was their sweetest of the league thus far. Earlier in the season they suffered a tough 70-62 loss at Lawndale by relinquishing a 20-point lead in the second half. Culver turned the tables on their home court, 65-52.

The Centaurs opened a 25-11 first quarter lead with a balanced attack. Travis Garland hit three three-point bombs for nine points while Nicky Green, Ryan Willoughby and Devone Yopp added two field goals each. Kyle Nomura and Malik McLinn also scored two points.

Lawndale made the game interesting by tying the game at halftime, 29-29, by holding the Centaurs to four points in the second quarter. The game was also tied after three quarters, 44-44, before the Centaur boys blew the game wide open by outscoring Lawndale 21-7 in the final quarter.

Willougby scored seven points in the fourth quarter to lead the team scoring with 17 points. Yopp scored 16 total points by hitting a pair of field goals in each quarter. Green added 11 points, Garland nine, McLinn six and Deven Osborne four to round out the scoring.

Fred Altieri

Lauren Jones (3) lays it in for Culver

The Culver Girls need a victory on Thursday evening at home against Beverly Hills to secure second place in the Ocean League. The Norman girls are suddenly a force to reckon with in league after having seen very little success in the past against Culver. One thing is certain, the Centaurs are not going to enjoy a first round home playoff game as had been the case for the five previous seasons.

"The girls have to stay focused. When you're dealing with a young group that's a difficult task. When they meet a goal all of a sudden it's: "We've made it." But we haven't made anything yet. That's the hard part right now," said Coach Anderson.

"We're probably going to end up with a tough first round game. So we're going to have to prepare for that. But I think we should be okay. I'm not sure where we might end up but we'll be driving far and playing someone tough."

 

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