Culver Girls Basketball Tied For League Lead
January 25, 2018
After going undefeated in their first four Ocean League contests for the 2018 season the Culver City High girls basketball team is ready to resume its place at the top of the league standings.
The Centaurs went on the road to beat rival Santa Monica High, 55-40, last Friday, and are now tied for first place with Beverly Hills.
The Centaurs had won the league title five consecutive years before relinquishing the crown to Lawndale High last season. This season the Culver girls have avenged two of their three league losses from last season, having beaten Lawndale 62-38 the previous week. The Centaurs hope to complete the trifecta in this Wednesday's home match against Beverly.
Culver High is currently 16-4 with six league contests remaining on the schedule before the playoff season begins next month. Once again the team is steadily moving through the league tempered by a tough pre-season tournament schedule. The result has been a stingy defense combined with an emerging balanced offense.
"We've been good. I don't think we've peaked but we've played okay. It's tough to become 4-0 but I don't think we've played our best basketball," said Centaur head coach Julian Anderson.
"We've played some heavy hitting teams. For what we've done this year we have a very good record.
"I would like to play a little faster but we did control the tempo. Eventually we created a couple of turnovers that helped us get a few easy buckets. That broke the game open toward the end. We don't shoot well in Santa Monica but we figured out a way to get the win."
The Centaurs had a tight 11-9 lead after the first quarter. Senior forward Angel Morris and junior forward Heaven Cooper led with five and four points respectively. Sophomore guard Junie Dickson added a pair for the lead. The Vikings kept it close with a three-pointer, two field goals and a couple of free throws.
Senior guard Lauren Jones took over in the second quarter scoring nine points, five of them coming from the free throw line. Cooper added three in the quarter and Dickson Culver added a field goal in the second quarter. But the SaMo girls responded with 13 points aided by a couple of three-pointers to trail by only three at half, 25-22.
"Santa Monica is well-coached. They threw a 1-3-1 defense at us, a quarter court 1-3-1. It took about a few minutes or so to adjust," said Anderson. "We try to get our players to rotate and adjust, to get the ball moving quickly. We found the gaps to get in there and we were okay."
Culver tried to pull away in the third quarter but the Vikings wouldn't collapse. Cooper did most of the damage with seven points in the quarter including a three-pointer. Dickson added four points and Morris put in two. Santa Monica's leading scorer, Kelsea Hudson, put in six of her 12 total points to hold the Culver lead to 38-32 after three quarters.
The floodgates opened in the fourth quarter as six Centaurs scored 17 points while the defense clamped down and held SaMo to eight. Only three Vikings scored in the second half. Cooper scored a game-high 16 points followed by Dickson with 14, Jones added 11, Morris had 10 while sophomore forward Leah Howard and junior guard Lindsey Kojima added two each.
Anderson: "A bench is really something we're trying to develop. The first five are good and can handle most games but they need breaks and they need people to step up. There are about three or four girls on the bench that are coming along and developing."
"This team this year has been one of my better communicating teams. It helps them to play at a different level. There are games we've scored in the 70's and there are some games where we've defended very well. Communication has been the constant and that's come from the seniors."
The Beverly Hills game will likely determine which team will have the upper hand for the league title when both meet again in the final league game of the season three weeks from now. The Lady Normans have enjoyed a resurgence in their program and are now Culver's toughest rival.
"Beverly's a lot better this year. We've watched them play and we beat them for the first time in a year early this season," said Anderson. "But that's not something we can hang our hat on. They're going to come out and try to play hard to get that win."