Culver City Observer -

Culver Girls Are Terrific In Playoff Opener


February 26, 2015

Fred Altieri

Culver Coaches and the starting five: Lindsey Tanita, Gwen Machado, Katie Lin, Kailey Tooke and Megan Yoon

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

It was 'Showtime' - Centaur style, a game that would have made the fabulous Laker teams of the 1980's proud. There was even a little bit of magic involved.

"Every blue moon you come across a game where everything is perfect. And I think no matter what it was a sign when Katie took a shot, it bounced up into the rafters and dropped in the basket. I told Mark: "There's no way we're losing the game today." It was a clear sign that it was one of those days."

Culver City High girls head basketball coach Julian Anderson's words to assistant coach Mark Kitabayashi rang true. The first quarter three-point basket launched a flurry of points that propelled the Centaurs to a resounding 63-43 victory over Quartz Hill High in the first round of the 2015 CIF Girls Basketball – Division 1AA Playoffs in Del Goodyear Auditorium.

It was Lin's uncanny three-point carom shot at 3:56 in the first quarter that gave the Centaurs an 8-0 lead. The visiting Rebels from the Palmdale area appeared shell-shocked from the constant offensive barrage delivered by Culver's starting lineup as the lead settled at 19-10 by the end of the quarter.

Senior point guard Lindsey Tanita deftly coordinated the attack while Kailey Tooke, Megan Yoon, Katie Lin and Gwen Machado kept pouring in shots from multiple spots on the floor. Quartz Hill had no answer for Tooke's complete arsenal as she scored 15 of her team-high 17 points to lead the team.

Yoon added 15 points including three divisive three-pointers that further deflated the Rebels' spirit. Lin's also hit two and one each from Hayley Yamamoto, Jazzmine Lacy and Tanita rounded out Culver's long-range conversions.

However, Anderson was not satisfied with the early leads: "I felt like even though we had played well offensively giving up 10 points in the first quarter was too much. Not because the other team wasn't good but we gave up a couple of baskets that we shouldn't have given up.

"So we're trying to clean that up and making sure we don't have that mistake again because the games not over until it's over. Our 38-22 lead at half was not a big lead at all. You don't get comfortable in the playoffs"

"I thought it was important to come out strong after halftime. I guess the players got the message too. They came out with a lot of energy and picked it up. It was pretty nice to see."

The Culver girls played their finest defense in the third quarter as Quartz Hill was determined to make a run. The Rebel's dominating Center, Katilin Stephenson who scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, was a concern acknowledged Anderson: "I love her game. She's a good player and she tried to make things happen.

"Their coach actually did a decent job of trying to get her the ball. There was a stretch where in the zone they were stretching us out getting her the ball one-on-one in the post. It was killing us."

He expounded on Culver center Machado's defensive effort against Stephenson: "I thought Gwendolyn did an excellent job on her. Her points came kind of sparingly and a lot came in the second half against the subs."

An insurmountable 54-30 lead going into the final quarter allowed Anderson to get his starters rest and experience for his bench playing with backup center Alex Arancibia who gets plenty of minutes with the first team: "Alexis had some great finishes and she hustled.

"It's always good to play our bench because some are coming back next year and they get an opportunity to feel what the playoffs are like. We let them know that no matter what just don't have any turnovers. I can handle missed shots and everything else but let's cut down on the turnovers."

Ultimately it was Tanita's leadership and execution that drew praise from Coach Anderson: "Lindsey Tanita was the best player of the game. To me it's all the intangibles that don't show up in the box score.

Fred Altieri

Centaur Cheer Team rising high

"She's being a leader. She's controlling the offense. She's controlling the pace. She's boxing out at the low part of the zone. I know it took out of her game scoring-wise but we got some big rebounds. She brought a lot to the table."

The Centaurs cannot rest on their laurels regardless of their past accomplishments and especially in the tough Division 1AA tournament. Anderson and his staff constantly stress: "Consistency is something we always preach."

"It's not about getting comfortable and it wasn't about that game. It's about the next day and the day after and staying consistent throughout. So staying focused and being consistent was important. And that's what the girls did.

"I think we could have beat half the nation that night so it's just one of those games. Whatever they are, wherever it comes from... I'd love to see it again. We played well. It's hard to even really talk about."


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