CIF championship games usually carry the added lore of a large, neutral site venue. High school athletes get the rare opportunity to share locker rooms that would otherwise house college or professional teams. Unique settings like Angel Stadium, Honda Center, or even Long Beach’s Walter Pyramid add a different level of grandeur to these important contests.
But in 2021, we got something different—and perhaps even more special. Two local teams got the chance to compete on campus, in their own gymnasiums, winning a plaque in front of their home fans and that’s why it’s our No. 4 Long Beach sports moment of the year.
First up, the Wilson boys’ volleyball team produced one of the most dominant championship performances in recent memory. The Bruins hadn’t dropped a set entering the CIF-SS playoffs after sweeping through the Moore League, and by the time they were mobbing their home court in celebration, they’d only lost three sets combined in 13 matches. Their 3-1 win over St. Francis was lively, to say the least, as the Bruin faithful loudly cheered their team to the first boys’ volleyball title in school history.
“We’ve wanted this so much, and to get a game and to get it at home was really great,” said junior Leo Pravednikov. “We have all our friends here, all our family.”
Less than a week later, the Poly girls’ basketball team enjoyed the same honor, cruising to a CIF title at Ron Palmer Pavilion in impressive fashion, beating Esperanza, 80-52.
It was a real moment for the Buggs family, as coaches Carl and Lakeisha Buggs watched their daughter, Kalaya, nail a school-record seven three-pointers on her way to a 25-point, 11-rebound performance.
Kalaya’s older sister, Cynthia, was keeping the stats for the game, penciling in Kalaya’s record-breaking performance from courtside.
“My sister and I made a goal list when I was younger and winning a CIF championship was on that list,” said Kalaya. “Being able to achieve that in our home gym is something very special, especially with my parents coaching.”