The Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball team had been willing themselves to victory round after round in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. The Jackrabbits ran into a team too strong to overcome through will alone in the semifinals on Wednesday evening. Though No. 2 Viewpoint suited up just six players, they were a well-rounded roster filled with shooters. Viewpoint had all five starters hit a 3-pointer en route to a 49-37 win over Poly.
The season doesn’t end here for the Jackrabbits, who have qualified for the CIF State tourney, with brackets due to come out on Sunday afternoon.
“They shot the ball like I was afraid they could,” said Poly coach Carl Buggs. “We picked up our defense in the second half but we couldn’t make shots. We didn’t get it done.”
Viewpoint knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half, while Poly was 0/16 from long-range in the first half. That left Viewpoint up 32-20 at the break. The Jackrabbits held them to just 17 points in the second half, but couldn’t get their own offense in gear, as Poly finished the game 1/26 from 3-point range, with senior Nala Williams making Poly’s only triple.
Viewpoint ran a box-and-one on the senior star, but she still managed to score a game-high 20 points along with 17 rebounds, three assists, and two steals. The problem for Poly was only 17 points from the rest of the roster, as the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket.
“When shots aren’t going in you’ve got to get to something else, and we didn’t do a good job of that,” said Buggs.
Poly was able to get Viewpoint star Karlee White in foul trouble and sideline her for a good chunk of the game, but she still scored 17, and teammates like Kayle Keshmeshian (20 points) were more than happy to step up in her absence.
Williams’ 20 for Poly was backed up by eight points from Kristal Caldwell.
The focus for Poly now turns to the State bracket, where they’ll have a chance to compete next week.
“All we can do is let it go, get over it, and get ready for that next game,” said Buggs. “Sometimes when your back is against the wall you finally understand.”