Most of the remaining Moore League basketball storylines were sorted out on Tuesday evening, with just one day of the regular season remaining before the playoffs begin. CIF Southern Section postseason brackets will be released Sunday morning for boys’ and girls’ basketball, and we’ll be tweeting them out live @562sports.
The Long Beach Poly boys won their 10th consecutive Moore League championship on Tuesday evening with an easy enough 69-50 win over Millikan, which was highlighted by consistent long-range shooting from Poly.
“We’re just really tough to stop when we’re knocking down shots like that,” said Poly coach Shelton Diggs. “It’s always good to wrap up the Moore League title, we’re just ready to finish this week and get to the playoffs.”
The pregame Senior Night festivities were busy, since all but three players on Poly’s varsity are seniors. One of them, Giordan Williams, led all scorers with 26 points. Sophomore Peyton Watson had the game’s biggest moment, bringing a large crowd to its feet with a powerful one-handed dunk after running the baseline. Watson received his first college scholarship offers earlier this week, from Grand Canyon and Montana, and has a bright career ahead of him.
Rob Diaz led Millikan with 17 points.
Poly and Compton had already sewed up the top two spots in the league headed towards CIF, with Millikan locked into third place. Wilson earned the fourth place spot outright with a win over Cabrillo on Tuesday evening, 60-52. Wilson was paced by Jackson Barnhill, who had 24 points in the playoff-clinching win. There’s nothing left to play for besides final records in Thursday’s games, as Poly visits Jordan, Lakewood travels to Compton, and Cabrillo is on the road at Millikan.
The Long Beach Poly girls’ squad extended its Moore League championship streak as well, but had a much more exciting game to contend with first. Poly’s 13th consecutive league title (and 19th in the last 20 years) came thanks to a thrilling 41-38 victory over Millikan, the second-place team in the league.
“They came to play and they took it to us,” said Poly coach Carl Buggs, whose team easily defeated the Rams on the road in the first round. “This was a great game for us before the playoffs, we had to focus late.”
The Jackrabbits held a narrow lead throughout the first half, but Millikan opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run, holding Poly scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half. Emily Newkirk and Allison Crawford scooped up offensive rebounds and scored put-backs, then hustled down the court to fluster Poly defensively. Poly came back to tie it late in the third, but a basket form Newkirk put Millikan up 31-29 going to the fourth quarter.
Poly got huge minutes in the fourth from senior Deja Williams, a CSUN signee who was competing through an injury. Williams had an assist, a steal that turned into a 3-pointer, and another bucket to put the Jackrabbits up 37-33. After a bucket late by Crawford, Millikan trailed by just two. With less than 30 seconds remaining, down two, Millikan got a good look at a game-tying layup but saw it roll off the front of the rim, as Poly escaped with the win.
“Deja was huge, we were lost and she had poise and led the way,” said Buggs.
The senior said it was a bittersweet night for her.
“As a freshman I was riding the bench, waiting for my turn, and now it’s my last home Moore League game and I knew we couldn’t lose tonight,” said Williams. “At the same time I don’t feel like I’m ready for it to be over.”
Three teams have been decided in the four slots the Moore League sends to the postseason. Poly and Millikan will be the top two seeds, and Lakewood looks good for third place. Where the intrigue comes in is the fourth seed. If Lakewood defeats Compton on Thursday, Compton and Wilson would finish in a fourth-place tie, having split their regular season series.
If that happens, the two teams will meet at Jordan High on Friday at 5 p.m. for a winner-take-all playoff tiebreaker.