The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
Long Beach Poly’s girls’ basketball team walked into Tim Sweeney Gymnasium at Lakewood on Thursday having not lost a Moore League basketball game in 15 years–or 5,484 days to be exact. After a spirited and tight game, the Jackrabbits walked back out of the gym with that streak at 5,485 days, thanks to a 62-51 victory over the host Lancers.
“We knew they’d be a tough team with a lot of confidence, they’ve had a successful season so far,” said Poly coach Carl Buggs. “We allowed them to play to their strengths early, we weren’t being disciplined on defense. We made some adjustments and were able to control things in the second half.”
The Lancers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter. Poly won a back-and-forth second thanks to a steady performance from junior Andrea Perkins, and held a narrow 27-26 lead at halftime. The game swung in the third quarter, with Lakewood’s top players sitting with four fouls. The game was tightly-officiated with 25 whistles in the first (16 minute) half, and 43 total whistles in the game. The Jackrabbits were aggressive driving the ball and were able to get Lakewood’s Nyemah King, Cristina Jones, and Nyla Hankins in foul trouble early. That trio accounted for 43 of the Lancers’ 51 points, and any time one of them was sitting, their absence was felt deeply.
“When we had our stars on the bench that’s when they got back in the game, and then what got them the lead, I think it’s a very different game if they stay on the floor,” said Lakewood coach Eric Oswell. “But they’ve got to defend without fouling.”
King is the Lancers’ leader this year and she picked up her third foul in the first quarter, and her fourth very early in the third, just two minutes in. Oswell said it was a challenge figuring out how to manage his stars in a game with a lot of whistles.
“I didn’t want to take them out, but they committed another foul and I had to, because we had to have them available in the fourth,” said Oswell. “They’re deeper than we are so we can’t make those mistakes.”
The result of Lakewood being shorthanded in the third was a Jackrabbits team ready for the moment--Poly won the third 17-7, taking control of the game with a 44-35 lead going into the fourth. Just as the first and second quarters were played evenly, the fourth was an 18-18 tie.
“We wanted to get their girls in foul trouble, so we went after them,” said Buggs. “They’re the bread and butter--if they’re on the bench then that limits them. And that allowed us to control the game.”
Perkins continued her strong game in the third, finishing with a team-high 17 points and six steals, while double-double machine Brooklyn Taylor was able to overcome her own foul trouble to pour in 14 points and grab 13 rebounds. But the biggest difference for Poly in a game with so many whistles was sophomore Jazmyne Shamburger, who came in off the bench when Taylor was sidelined with foul trouble.
Shamburger gave Poly some much-needed athleticism against the Lancers; she put up 10 points and five rebounds off the bench--the Jackrabbits got 17 off the bench to the Lancers’ three points.
Perkins impressed for Poly; a bench player last year, she’s stepped into a leadership role as a junior and was a quieting force for the Jackrabbits when they needed baskets. She hit two 3-pointers (the only ones scored in the game) but also limited turnovers and kept Poly from panicking.
“We’ve had a lot of games this year where we had to step up, when teammates were down and we have to come together,” said Perkins. “So when there’s foul trouble, or people getting mad--we just know we have to keep our energy up.”
The Lancers were able to close the lead to six points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get it closer than that as Poly and Taylor were able to answer each challenge.
Lakewood was led by 21 points from King and 18 points/15 rebounds from Jones.
Poly now sits alone in first while Lakewood sits alone in second; the two teams will play again next Wednesday at Poly.