Culver Boys, Girls Win On Same Night
January 29, 2015
By Fred Altieri
The practical simplicity of Ocean League scheduling insures that the Culver City High girls and boys basketball team seasons synchronize once league play begins.
The girls are usually scheduled to play at 6 p.m. and the boys immediately follow at 7:30 every Wednesday and Friday throughout the league season. Their victories synched up for the first time this year on Friday, Jan. 23, as both teams won at Hawthorne High... both in tightly fought contests.
The Centaur girls held off a stubborn Cougar squad in the opener, 35-28, and increased their current league winning streak to 34 games. Two nights earlier at home in Del Goodyear Gymnasium they had beaten rival Santa Monica High convincingly, 64-44, as the Culver starters sat out most of the fourth quarter.
At Hawthorne the Centaur boys savored their first league win of the season, 62-58. They jumped out to a quick lead and never relinquished while withstanding a late Cougar rally. In contrast, they lost Wednesday's home game to Santa Monica, 77-51, when they predominantly failed to counter the Vikings' height advantage.
Surprisingly, the Culver girls were given their sternest league test this year by a winless Hawthorne squad. They finally put the game on ice minutes after leading by only 27-21 going into the fourth quarter.
It was an unusual night for their usually potent offense as the rim seemed to shrink with each missed shot. On cue the Centaur team defense made up the difference.
Two nights earlier it was a different story when Culver threatened to run Santa Monica off the court after only three quarters. A first quarter Culver 15-10 lead burst into a 19-point halftime lead with an 18-4 run in the second quarter. The lead stretched to 30-plus points before head coach Julian Anderson brought in his bench to finish out the game.
The Culver girls are still weighing potential lineup options to support their core unit. Katie Lin, Gwen Machado, Megan Yoon, Lindsey Tanita, Kailey Tooke and Alex Arancibia are a group of four seniors and two juniors from last year's title team that has been reduced in numbers due to recent injuries to key team players. So far their demeanor, combined efforts and pragmatic approach have been successful.
The Centaur boys' victory over Hawthorne washed away the disappointment of their first three league losses of the season in a high-energy, fast-breaking, physical contest.
Culver raced to a 13-0 lead to start the game. Kyle Johnson had six points, Darae Thompson scored five, Ben Arena and Chris Williams had two each and Nicky Green hit Culver's only three-pointer of the game for an 18-4 lead after the first quarter.
Hawthorne immediately retaliated with 22 points in the second quarter to cut lead to 29-26 at half. Tyler Nakamoto and Arena added timely baskets to help keep the Centaurs in front. But the third quarter proved to be critical for the victory as Culver outscored the Cougars, 18-12, led by team scoring leaders Thompson and Johnson.
Johnson, the game's leading scorer with 23 points, churned things up in the third quarter by hitting four field goals with impressive style. Thompson equally shined with three fields on his way to 17 points total. Ben Arena and Malik McLinn added a basket each to push the buffer to nine points going into the final quarter.
Hawthorne trailed 55-45 when it made a last dash. The action became fast and furious as the referees stuck to their game plan: 'let both teams play.' Soon the score was 55-49. As expected, the Cougars, backed by a screaming crowd of supporters, were within three points at 59-56 with 45 seconds remaining.
Head coach Adam Eskridge called time out. The Centaurs responded with a solid endgame as they moved the ball around the perimeter before Thompson drove the lane and was fouled and made a free throw. Then came Culver pressure defense. A subsequent steal by Isaiah Njoku forced Hawthorne to foul him. He calmly went to the line and buried both shots to seal the victory.
The current Centaur girls roster with uniform numbers: #1 Hayley Yamamoto, #3 Katie Lin, #5 Huma Manjra, #10 Gwen Machado, #11 Megan Yoon, #12 Kailey Tooke, #21 Lindsey Tanita, #23 Alexis Aquino, #23 Morgan Williams, #24 Jazzmine Lacy, #32 Kate Suyetsugu, #33 Alex Arancibia, #52 Billie Crichton
The current Centaur boys roster with uniform numbers: #1 Xavier Davis-Sowell, #2 Darae Thompson, #3 Chris Williams, #4 Isaiah Benson, #5 Keylin Greene, #10 Myles Elrington, #11 Tyler Nakamoto, #12 Ben Arena, #13 Matthew Alson, #14 Isaiah Njoku, #15 Kyle Johnson, #21 Anthony Polk, #22 Jerome Bradford, #23 Arshan Appleby, #24 Elliot Stanger, #25 Malik McLinn, #32 Nicky Green