After Long Beach Poly’s season-ending loss to Windward in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, it was a long time before Jackrabbits coach Shelton Diggs could bring himself to leave the Poly locker room. It’s the kind of loss that haunts a coach, and leaves a team spending the entire offseason thinking about what could have been. Poly was uncharacteristically bad at the free throw line and had several missed offensive opportunities down the stretch in a 57-53 loss.
“We’ve been good at the free throw line all year, we were 4/13 tonight,” said Diggs. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to make down the stretch.”
Poly was a reliable free throw shooting team all year and also a reliable 3-point shooting team, with the trio of Justin Rene, Giordan Williams, and Malik Salahuddin leading the way. There was little to no offensive flow on Tuesday against a well-run Windward zone, which extended out to the arc and frustrated Poly’s halfcourt offense.
After a back and forth game that saw seven lead changes, it was tied at 53 with 1:53 left in the game. Poly’s next possession came up empty, and Windward scored on the other end. The Jackrabbits had two looks at tying it in the last 30 seconds, but missed both shots.
“We just couldn’t get in a rhythm,” said a frustrated Diggs.
Poly ends the season at 21-7 overall with the Moore League championship.
The Jackrabbits were led by Salahuddin’s 21 points, backed up by 15 from Rene and 14 from Williams.