Photo by Art O’Neill/John Napalan
The Jackrabbits and head coach Carl Buggs have been building towards this season for the last couple of years. Poly returns three first-team All-Moore League players in senior Ashlee Lewis (a Fullerton signee) and juniors Kalaya Buggs and Simone Morris.
“We’re going to go about as far as our experience takes us,” said Buggs. “We don’t have as much depth as we used to, but I like where we’re at right now, I like this group.”
Poly is the 13-time defending Moore League champion, and as the only Division 1 program in the city, is certainly expected to continue that streak this season. The bigger question is the postseason. Poly ended up in the D1 playoffs last year instead of the top-tier Open Division, and came close to winning a D1 CIF-SS title or a Division 1 state title, but fell short primarily because of offensive woes.
“I love to compete against the best, that’s all I know,” said Buggs. “I don’t know how everything works out with the Divisions, but we’ll go for it. I schedule Sierra Canyon and Windward because I want to play the best teams that’s out there–it used to be other schools were afraid to compete against us. Now, the gap is separating more and more each year with the private schools.”
In addition to games against Sierra Canyon and Windward, Buggs has the Jackrabbits in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona as usual, as well as major tournaments at Troy and in San Diego.
Poly will rely on a balanced roster around Lewis, a powerful post players who’s developed enormously on the offensive end over the last two years. Most of the rest of the team’s players are interchangable in the lineup. Buggs (Carl and assistant coach Lakeisha’s daughter) is one of the more versatile players in Southern California, with the ability to guard one through five. Senior Iyanna Lamb is a skilled ball-handler, and sophomore Nala Williams is instant offense.
The other key pieces for Poly are Morris, senior Kaci Scott, and junior Lily Buggs, a do-everything offensive rebound scrapper that could be the difference for Poly in the playoffs last year.
“She’s one of those players who’s a five or six point difference with the offensive rebounding and other plays she makes,” said Buggs.