There’s been plenty of history made over the last century-plus by the Long Beach Poly basketball programs. The Jackrabbits’ girls’ and boys’ teams have won a combined 26 CIF-SS championships and seven state titles, and produced hundreds of scholarship players and a half dozen McDonald’s All-Americans.
Tonight at 7 p.m. in the Ron Palmer Pavilion, the Jackrabbits have a chance to do something they’ve never done before: win a title on their home court. Poly will host Esperanza in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship at 7 p.m., in a sold-out game that will be livestreamed on Bally Sports for free (http://online2.sport-streamhd.com/hsbasketball.php#.YMJ4XS2caCM). The school is also hosting a free livestream watch party in the campus auditorium for those who couldn’t get tickets but still want to be near the action.
The Jackrabbits have made it through the playoffs comfortably, but face an upset-minded Esperanza team that beat Sierra Canyon earlier in the postseason. Poly is led by the four-headed veteran monster of Lily Buggs, Nala Williams, Kalaya Buggs, and Simone Morris, with senior Khalei Gentle stepping up big in these playoffs as well.
It’s been a season-long evolution for Poly, which had a lopsided loss to Mater Dei earlier this year.
“Our first day of practice a few months ago felt like June 17, freshman orientation,” said Poly coach Carl Buggs, who’s won six CIF-SS and six CIF State titles coaching the Jackrabbits. “We needed time for our veterans to get in gear and show their leadership. This group is a special group, they care about each other, they support each other, and they want to play for each other.”
We’ll have live updates from the game for those who can’t make it.