Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Culver Girls Lose But Season Isn't Over

 

The Culver City High girls basketball team's quest to win its second CIF Southern Section Basketball title unfortunately came to an abrupt end in the City of Downey on Saturday night, February 24. The Centaurs suffered a heartbreaking 63-59 overtime loss to the Warren High Bears in the semifinal round of the Division 3AA Playoffs.

"One of the toughest losses...," said Culver Head Coach Julian Anderson. "We had the ball with three seconds to go and tried to take advantage of a miscue by their defense. It just didn't work out."

Tied at 55-55, the Centaurs had the ball with 11 seconds left in regulation following an intense battle throughout the fourth quarter. Denied a foul on a driving layup, instead they were still given possession on a jump-ball call with barely three seconds on the clock. After inbounding, the buzzer sounded before Culver could get the shot off.

Both teams were tight at the start of the four-minute overtime until Centaur sophomore Amy Yoon drove the lane for a spinning underhand layup. Warren took a one-point lead on a bank shot and foul with 2:15 to play. Heaven Cooper made a free throw to tie the game once again. Warren made a layup. Culver missed downcourt. Warren made another layup to lead 62-58 with 1:32 remaining.

Lauren Jones' free throw with just over a minute left was Culver's last score. They had six more shots at the basket including two free throws but failed to convert. Their CIF title hopes were dashed. Yet a silver lining developed over the weekend as the Culver girls were invited to the California State Division 3 Championships starting next Wednesday, March 7.

Anderson: "At halftime it seemed like we were in control. We didn't want to over-coach the game too much. But we came out flat and that hurt us a lot. In the third quarter we lost it. We didn't match their run. They came out with an energy about them and they wanted to win. We never matched it and it turned the game around from there."

Junie Dickson led the team in scoring with 14 points including two three pointers in the first quarter. Jones and Cooper each scored 13 points including two three-pointers and five free throws. Angel Morris had 11 points. Amy Yoon added four points. Haley Yamamoto converted a three-pointer. Lindsey Kojima made a free throw.

"It's been a successful season. We did well. We have 20-something wins. The girls came together this year and did what they could. It just comes down to when it comes to good games... and that's a few plays here and there. If the plays go in the opposite direction we probably win the game," said Anderson.

"Free throws killed us. We didn't rebound as well as we could have. We didn't execute at times that were important. But to not play our best, go into overtime and lose by four points... that's not too bad. Ultimately we want the game but it shows how good we could have been and at times we are. Not to play a good game and still be right there..."

The Centaurs made it to the semifinals by defeating Colony High, 74-38, last Wednesday at home. They jumped out to a 15-7 first quarter lead and never looked back. Eight Centaurs scored in a balanced onslaught. The defense was tenacious and forced Colony into numerous unfavorable offensive possessions. The lead was 34-19 at half.

The Culver girls poured it on in the third quarter scoring 23 points. Dickson scored eight points including a three-pointer. Jones added two three-point bombs. Yamamoto converted a three-pointer. Cooper had two field goals. Yoon hit two free throws. The reserves led the way in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Tigers 18-6.

Dickson led the team in scoring again with 20 points. Alyse Hayes had her highest scoring output of the season with 12 points. She converted two three-pointers. Cooper scored 11 points including a three pointer. Yoon put in nine points including a three-pointer.

Jones hit two three-pointers and scored eight points. Leah Howard had eight points on four field goals. Yamamoto had a three-pointer and five points. Shana Moten scored five points coming off the bench.

The girls now prepare for the opening round of State on Wednesday, waiting until the completion of the CIF Championships this weekend to find out who their next opponent will be. It certainly will be on the road.

Anderson was pragmatic: "When the girls found out that we qualified for State, I felt that made them feel a little better. We practiced last night. We took today off. We're going to practice tomorrow and Thursday. And we'll probably give them the weekend off. Then we'll do Monday and Tuesday and we'll play on Wednesday."

 

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