Jackrabbits win Platinum thiller
While much of the attention in the world of women's basketball was on Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto Thursday, a night of stellar high school action took place at Deer Valley High School. The 11th annual WCJ ended with its share of excitement, including the No. 2 Jackrabbits withstanding a late charge from Carondelet. Plus, St. Mary's finishes with a dominating performance and the all-tournament team is named.
Championship Game: Long Beach Poly 58, Carondelet 56: If Carondelet's last two games against Berkeley and Poly are any indication of how the Division I race will play out this year, the best is yet to come. After getting down 11-2 to start the game and 17-9 at the end of the first quarter, the Cougars fought back to cut the deficit to three at 29-26 at halftime. Erica Payne had nine points and Hannah Huffman had eight for Carondelet while Sheila Boykin put in 13 in the first half for Poly. The game remained tight for most of the third quarter, but Poly used a 9-2 run at the end of the quarter to take a 44-37 lead. The Jackrabbits held their lead into the fourth when an exciting finish unfolded. Down five with less than two minutes left, Carondelet got a lay-up from Natalie Romeo and a three from Melissa Russi to tie the game at 56 with 42.9 seconds left. After the teams exchanged empty possessions, Ariya Crook-Williams and Huffman collided at mid-court and Huffman was called for the foul. Crook-Williams made both of her free throws as Poly escaped as Platinum Division champions.
Carondelet Notes: Huffman scored a team-high 19 points, including a number of big plays down the stretch. She is an excellent playmaker in the open floor and was able to use her strength to get inside against Poly. Huffman also is showing her versatility in playing off the ball and sliding over to forward. Payne had 12 points and 11 rebounds in being matched up with Boykin most of the night. She did a really nice job of working for post position and playing on the perimeter. The Stanford-bound Payne is another versatile player who is showing her leadership on this team. Russi made four three pointers on the night in totaling 14 points. She has a good shooting stroke and is another player teams will have to remember on the perimeter. "Melissa Russi coming out and making those threes is great," Payne said. "It's what our team needs from her and a product of hard work. Melissa Russi works on her threes all the time and it was just a matter of stepping up and knocking them down." Romeo was active on defense and handled the ball well against some of the Poly pressure. She had a nice move on the baseline for a big bucket in the fourth quarter. In this tournament, Carondelet used a zone defense to combat some of the size and athleticism of Berkeley and Long Beach Poly to matchup better, Payne said
Long Beach Poly Notes: Boykin was solid all night with 19 points as a poised player on the post. She is able to get the ball on the block or take it off the dribble from the high post. Boykin and Payne are future Pac-10 competitors with Boykin scoring one for the Bruins. Crook-Williams started off well with seven quick points, but didn't score again until the final two free throws. Senior guard Tajanae Winston also added eight points. A key for Poly was it got 17 second half points from players who didn't score in the first half. It is this depth that makes them very tough to beat on a given night.
3rd Place Game: Berkeley 67, Georgetown-Texas 61: The third place game was a battle of the stars with Cal-bound Brittany Boyd of Berkeley and LSU-bound Krystal Forthan of Georgetown. Boyd scored 13 of her 23 points in the first quarter while Forthan was dominant in a 33 point effort. Berkeley led 20-13 at the end of the first quarter and stretched the lead out to 31-20. Georgetown closed to within six at 33-27 at halftime despite 10 turnovers. The Yellowjackets outscored the Eagles 22-14 in the third for a 55-41 lead heading into the fourth. While Georgetown got within three late, it could never take the lead and Berkeley finished the week 3-1.
Boyd was hot early in getting inside and finishing with a number of runners against the defense. When her shot cooled, she was able to stay in the game rebounding and with her very good passing skills. Davis tallied four assists and five steals and can always be counted on to bring activity on both ends for Berkeley. As her shot becomes more consistent, matching up with these two guards will become ultra-difficult. Culberson drew the cover of Forthan and finished strong on offense with eight second half points, including a solid jumper late. Forthan showed why she is considered one of the best players in the country by handling the ball in the open floor and showing the mobility on the post.
5th Place: St. Mary's-Berkeley 60, Bishop O'Dowd 49: In a matchup of NorCal powers, St. Mary's was dominant from the beginning to post an 11 point win that wasn't as close as the final score. The Panthers led 19-13 after the first quarter and outscored the Dragons in the second 17-2 for a 36-15 halftime lead. In the first half, Bishop O'Dowd had 15 turnovers to match its 15 points while St. Mary's used five three pointers to stretch the lead. St. Mary's showed its maturity in keeping the lead steady up until the end of the game for an impressive NCS win. The news continues to get better as St. Mary's head coach Nate Fripp said post player Deandra Moore is expected back for the league opener to give the Panthers more size.
Emily Vann had 17 points to cap a very good week at the Jamboree. She can step out for a mid-range jumper and is a strong rebounder. "(Emily) is playing very well right now. She's our most unselfish player," Fripp said. "She's controlling the inside and then can pop out. She's our anchor right now." Cody Sims had 10 points and flashed her passing skills from the top of the floor. This senior duo creates a lot of mismatches with an opponents' front line. Freshman Mikayla Cowling had nine points while Gabby Green had six points, though Fripp credited her with a very good floor game. Bishop O'Dowd struggled with some of the pressure St. Mary's showed and got into no offense in the first half. Ariel Bostick came on strong late to finish with 17 points in making two three pointers. She struggled early with the size of St. Mary's backcourt. Odera Chidom had 15 points with a couple of nice finishes inside off of quick offense. The Dragons also got 10 points from Lariel Powell.
7th Place: Del Oro 53, Hanford 52: UC Santa Barbara-bound Madeline Campbell had a go-ahead three point play with 1:31 left and added the game winning runner with eight seconds left to lead Del Oro to the one point victory. The Golden Eagles were down 33-24 at halftime after Hanford won the second quarter 18-9. The win left the Golden Eagles at 2-2 for the weekend and appears to be the top challenger to St. Mary's (Stockton) in the SJS Division II race. Hanford was led by 15 points from Bayli McClard and 12 points from Madison Parrish,
Campbell was big down the stretch with 16 points and does a good job of defending her dribble against pressure. Sophomore Brianna Ruiz is a smooth ball handler and finished with 10 points. Post Belle Obert, who is headed to Butler next year to play Volleyball, had a big impact inside. She was very good rebounding the ball, provided a shot blocking presence and added eight points on offense. Strong inside play to go with the perimeter weapons will be the recipe for Del Oro all year.
Other Platinum Division scores: Sacramento beat San Diego 68-55, Presentation beat Bishop's School 44-43, Deer Valley beat Pleasant Grove 65-43, Eastside Prep beat Modesto Christian 42-37
Sheila Boykin C Long Beach Poly (MVP)
Ariya Crook-Williams PG Long Beach Poly
Tajanae Winston G Long Beach Poly
Hannah Huffman G Carondelet
Erica Payne F Carondelet
Brittany Boyd G Berkeley
Chairese Culberson F Berkeley
Elisha Davis G Berkeley
Krystal Forthan P Georgetown-Texas
Cody Sims F St. Mary's-Berkeley
Emily Vann F St. Mary's-Berkeley
Lariel Powell G Bishop O'Dowd
Madeline Campbell G Del Oro
Madison Parrish G Hanford
Jasmine Ware G Sacramento
Tia Dixon G San Diego
Joesetta Fatuesi P Presentation
Bryn Stark F Bishop's School
Raven Fox G Deer Valley
Dejza James F Pleasant Grove
Ahjalee Harvey PG Eastside Prep
Charise Holloway W Modesto Christian