Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball wants that one back.
Senior Deja Williams did all she could to keep her team in the game, and the Jackrabbits had multiple chances to tie or win the game in the final seconds and in overtime, but Rosary held on for a 40-38 win at home in the quarterfinals of the CIF State Division I Girls’ Basketball Championships on Thursday.
“The ball just didn’t fall for us,” Poly coach Carl Buggs said. “I’m proud of my girls because they fought until the end.”
Poly lost sophomore Kalaya Buggs in the first quarter after she rolled her ankle, junior Ashlee Lewis was only healthy enough to play about three quarters of the game, and Williams has been dealing with injuries for weeks, but the Jackrabbits hung with Rosary from wire-to-wire.
“Kids had to step up and make plays to get the game into overtime,” Buggs said. “We were down, but not out. We didn’t drop our heads.”
Williams scored a game-high 17 points, 10 in the first half, while making the final field goal in the last seconds of the second, third and fourth quarters.
“She played like a senior leader,” Buggs said.
Both teams went on long scoring droughts throughout the night, and the game was scoreless for the first 2:35 of the first quarter. The Jackrabbits led 12-5 headed into the second quarter where Rosary guard Asia Avinger sparked a 6-2 run on her way to 12 points. However, Williams made sure Poly had the lead at halftime with a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Rosary center Savannah Felix got to the free throw line in the third quarter to get her team the lead 23-22. The Royals were 14/21 from the free throw line in the game, and 8/11 in the third quarter. Poly went 10/14 from the charity stripe, and retook the 26-25 lead headed to the fourth quarter because of Williams’ buzzer-beating layup.
The contest remained tight in the fourth quarter until Rosary pulled away thanks to Poly turnovers. After the Royals took a three point lead on free throws, Williams tied the game 36-36 with 15 seconds left in regulation on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Rosary turned the ball over with eight seconds left, and Nala Williams’ layup attempt at the buzzer hit the rim twice before bouncing out.
Avinger scored the first four points of overtime to give Rosary the lead for good while Poly went without a field goal in the extra period to end the season. Rosary will play the semifinal against Troy.