Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Culver Girls Begin Playoffs with Two Victories

 

February 22, 2018

Another season, another deep run into the playoffs. The Culver City High girls basketball team successfully advanced to the Round three of the 2018 CIF Southern Section Division 3AA Playoffs this past week playing at home against Crossroads, 66-50, and South Pasadena High, 67-48.

The Centaurs will host Colony High from Ontario at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 21.

It was packed bleachers in Del Goodyear Gymnasium as visiting Crossroads kept things close throughout the first half. The Centaurs kept their poise defensively and relied on a balanced scoring attack to from six players to hold a slim 28-25 halftime lead. Five scored at least four points or more in the half.

In contrast the Roadrunners' scoring came basically from three players. Once Centaur head coach and his staff made their adjustments the final score was inevitable. One of the challenges was containing Crossroads sophomore center Amirah O'Neal. She scored 15 points and was a force in the paint but the Centaur defense was able to spread out the impact.

"We had a couple of issues on defense. We went to one player and they beat us there and then we switched it and passed it onto their guard," said Anderson. "I thought it also made it hard for them to get it into O'Neal, which was a huge turn-around for them as well."

"Our defense kind of made some changes. We did a good job of adjusting with the changes. From there I actually thought we took control of the game."

Culver dominated the second half outscoring the Roadrunners, 38-25. The third quarter proved the difference with distributed scoring and a pressure defense that Crossroads couldn't handle. There was also the Centaur fans that showed up in full force to counter the opposing chants from the east side of the bleachers.

"The third quarter was the big one. I heard our fans a lot and thought they did a really good job of keeping our girls alive. I think their fans tried to make a little noise and definitely make themselves be heard. But our fans did a good job to combat that. And that obviously helped our players," said Anderson.

Senior Lauren Jones kept the Culver offense moving, read the Roadrunner defense well and controlled the offense for much of the game. She put the lights out for Crossroads with a 180-degree half-court bomb at the buzzer ending the third quarter on an inbound pass with 1.5 seconds on the clock. The shot brought the house down as the courtside D.J.'s sounds amplified the celebration throughout the timeout.

The Culver girls led 48-37 after three quarters. As fate would have it, Jones opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 24-foot bomb. The Centaurs secured the victory with efficiency in the final quarter outscoring Crossroads by five points. Jones led Culver in scoring with 16 points including four three-pointers.

Junie Dickson scored 14 points with five field goals and Heaven Cooper added 13 points including two three-pointers. Angel Morris scored eight points while controlling the boards. Haley Yamamoto also scored eight including two three-pointers. Amy Yoon had four points and Alyse Hayes hit a three-pointer to round out the scoring.

South Pasadena gave Culver and their fans some concern in Saturday night's, February 16, second round contest. "Against South Pasadena in the first half we were getting beat on a particular couple of plays," said Anderson.

"Our on-ball defense wasn't great. Our ball-screen defense wasn't great. Then we switched it up to the zone, which they came out and knocked down some huge threes against the zone. They sat in the corner a couple of times."

The Tigers kept the Centaurs at bay for the entire first half with an outside attack from the perimeter. They nailed five three pointers from two players to take a 30-27 halftime lead. Culver countered with more balanced scoring but their shooting percentage suffered.

Anderson had the team ready for the third quarter: "We came out in the third and gave up a couple from the wing. We made adjustments from there and actually did a better job."

One of the adjustments was attacking South Pasadena's defense in the paint. Enter center Angel Morris. "We finally got her involved offensively. One of their best players had three fouls and we were trying to go after her. Knowing that the ball was coming, it gave Angel scoring opportunities. We did a good job on that."

Morris devastated the Tigers inside in the second half scoring 14 of her game-leading 18 points. She also controlled the backboards on both ends of the court allowing her teammates to open up in transition. Jones was equally effective from the point position, controlling the tempo, knocking down four three-point bombs while scoring 16 points.

Cooper put in 11 points including a three-pointer. Junie Dickson added nine points, Hayes scored five points including a three pointer. Leah Howard scored five points. Amy Yoon, returning to the active roster after a long absence, had two points and Yamamoto added a free throw. "Amy provides a lot of things: depth on the bench, quickness, ball-handling and some scoring here and there. It's great to have her back," said Anderson.

"We can obviously afford to play a little better but we'll take what we can get, also. Hopefully we can clean some things up and make some things better for ourselves. Colony seems decent. They definitely work hard on defense. They have two girls that can put the ball in the basket and the rest fill their roles. So it should be a good game."

 

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