It’s not possible to frame a basketball game and hang it on the wall, but if it were, the Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball team would be clearing off some wall space this evening. The Jackrabbits played a picture-perfect game to pull off a road upset of recently crowned CIF-SS Open Division champion Mater Dei, playing great team defense and offense in a 55-50 victory.
Six of Poly’s seven heavy rotation players scored between six and 12 points in a balanced effort to win the first round of the CIF State Open Division playoffs. The Jackrabbits will travel to Windward on Saturday looking for another road win.
“We had to get back to the gameplan,” said Poly coach Carl Buggs, who was frustrated with his team’s CIF-SS Open Division losses. “More patient offensively, run our press break. Then on defense we had energy. We play best with our backs against the wall.”
The Jackrabbits’ energy was palpable from the get-go, as they led 6-0 and then 13-9 at the end of the first quarter. Poly struggled scoring in the second quarter but played good enough defense to get away with only making four shots in the period.
The third quarter was eight minutes of incredible team basketball. All seven rotation players scored for Poly, while they held Mater Dei to just two made field goals, winning the quarter 19-10 to take control of the game with a 42-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Monarchs hit a few big shots to open the fourth, and were hurrying the Jackrabbits defensively. Poly’s lead had shrunk to just six points when the Jackrabbits called a timeout with five minutes left in the game. Surprisingly, the Monarchs came out of the timeout in a soft zone, as opposed to the man defense they’d run all game.
“That was a ‘thank you’ moment for us,” said Buggs. “We caught our breath a little, got a basket, and the momentum was back.”
The Poly players agreed with their coach’s assessment that it was the best defensive effort their team had put forth in a while.
“We just remembered how it felt losing in CIF and we knew we had to play our hardest and bring the energy,” said Kalaya Buggs.
“We stuck to the gameplan, that’s it,” said senior Ashlee Lewis. “We knew we were capable of doing this. We had to prove people wrong and we like to do that.”
It was the Jackrabbits’ second win over Mater Dei this year, as they handed the Monarchs a pair of losses in a 30-3 season.
Poly got 12 points and eight rebounds from Lewis, 11 points from Simone Morris, nine from Lily Buggs, eight from Nala Williams, seven from Yaddie Lamb, and six from Kalaya Buggs. Mater Dei was led by Stanford commit Brooke Demetre’s 18 points.