If you believe the rankings, this isn’t Long Beach Poly’s year. The Jackrabbits aren’t in the national polls, and they’re No. 11 in the first CIF-SS rankings of the year.
Jackrabbits head coach Carl Buggs isn’t that worried about it. That’s in large part because he remembers what it was like when he and his wife, Lakeisha, took over the Poly program, before all the CIF and State championships–when it was work first, win later.
“This reminds me a lot of when we first got started,” said Buggs. “You’ve got to make the most of what you get, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Jackrabbits’ biggest names over the years have often been post players, with the bulk of their All-Americans being bigs. But the Buggs’ strength has always been in developing defensive-minded guards that play with passion and intensity, and that’s what they’ll have to rely on this year.
“We’re going to be a four guards offense,” said Buggs, whose team opens the season this week in the Troy Classic with games against Troy, Etiwanda, and Mater Dei.
Poly’s top guard is senior Deja Williams, the reigning Moore League Player of the Year and a CSUN commit.
“We’re known for having really good bigs, and we have to adjust to being smaller,” said Williams. “We will be real run and gun this year.”
6’1” junior Ashlee Lewis is the team’s best true post player, and Poly will need to shoot well around her. In addition to Williams, who has been hampered early in practice with a nagging knee injury, Poly will turn to Chloe and Lily Buggs, and Iyanna Lamb. One of the Jackrabbits’ best players will be Kalaya Buggs, Carl and Lakeisha’s daughter, a versatile 5’9” sophomore.
The Jackrabbits’ schedule is as tough as ever. After the Troy Classic they’re in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and the San Diego Classic.