Culver Girls Lead League But Tough Games Are Coming
February 2, 2018
It was a cliffhanger with the thrilling sequel already scheduled in two weeks time. Culver City High girls basketball practically buried themselves into a deep hole at home but managed to claw their way back for a two-point nail-biting victory over Beverly Hills High, 48-46.
The victory gave the Centaurs sole possession of first place in the Ocean League with a 5-0 record.
Two nights later Culver easily took care of the visiting El Segundo High Eagles, 62-27. After a close first quarter the Centaurs overwhelmed the Eagles by a 32-point margin in the second and third quarters to bring in the reserves in the final quarter.
The win gives the Culver City girls (18-4 overall) a 6-0 record and a one-game lead over Beverly with four league games remaining each.
Starting last season Beverly Hills has suddenly become Culver's chief rival and a force in the league. Both teams were tied 13-13 after the first quarter. Centaur senior guard Lauren Jones scored seven points including a three-pointer. Senior center Angel Morris and sophomore guard Junie Dickson added a field goal each. Junior guard Alyse Hayes converted two free throws.
The Culver offense went cold scoring only three points in the second quarter as the Normans took a 22-16 halftime lead. Sophomore guard Lindsey Kojima scored all three points for the Centaurs. Sophomore guard Abri Gillis led Beverly in scoring with 17 points, ten in the first half including two three-pointers.
Both teams continued to exchange baskets but Culver's deficit increased to nine by the end of the third quarter, 38-29. Beverly was still controlling the pace of play. Dickson kept the Centaurs relatively close with seven points in the quarter including a three-pointer. Morris scored four points and Jones added a bucket for the quarter.
A sense of urgency swept through the packed bleachers in Del Goodyear Gymnasium leading into the fourth quarter. That's when Culver senior guard Haley Yamamoto stepped up, inspired and saved the game for the Centaurs. Yamamoto hit her first three-pointer to start the quarter. A minute later Yamamoto hit her second three to reduce the deficit to five points, 40-35.
Following a Beverly field goal Jones buried a three from the top of the key to make the score 42-38 with 4:43 remaining in the game. Morris then hit two free throws to cut the lead to two points. The Centaurs tied the score at 42-42 on Jones' driving layup. The stands were rocking with 2:29 on the game clock. Dickson finally gave Culver the lead at 44-42 with a field goal.
Freshman Beverly guard Michelle Duchemin hit a pair of field goals to tie it at 44-44 with 1:42 remaining in regulation. One minute later Yamamoto converted her third three-pointer for a 47-44 Culver lead. However, the Normans weren't finished as Duchemin hit a short banker cutting the lead to one point, 47-46, with 18.5 seconds on the clock.
Culver Head Coach Julian Anderson called a time-out. Yamamoto was immediately fouled following the time-out, stepped up to the charity line and converted a free throw and the final 48-46 lead. With 13.4 seconds remaining the Normans final possession was a frenzied one with bodies flying everywhere chasing a number of shots but not finding the net. The stands erupted and the Culver girls rejoiced at midcourt.
Jones led Culver City in scoring with 14 points. Dickson scored 11 total points and Yamamoto added 10. Morris contributed six points, Kojima added three and Hayes put in two to round out the scoring.
The current Ocean League girls basketball standings: Culver City 6-0, Beverly Hills 5-1, El Segundo 3-3, Santa Monica 3-3, Lawndale 1-5 and Hawthorne 0-6.
With four games remaining for each team the 2018 league championship will boil down to the final game of the year between the Beverly and Culver girls at Beverly Hills High on Thursday, February 8.
Mark it on your calendars. You won't be disappointed.