Basketball Lakewood Long Beach Poly

Girls’ Basketball: Long Beach Poly Survives Tough Test From Lakewood

The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

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.

Long Beach Poly (14-6, 7-0) entered Wednesday’s showdown with Lakewood (19-4, 5-2) riding a 181-game winning streak against the Moore League. In that nearly 15-year unbeaten run, the Jackrabbits have rarely been tested the way they were at Ron Palmer Pavilion, but again they found a way, emerging with an exciting 56-48 win.

The Jackrabbits trailed by six points late in the third quarter, and were struggling to contain Lakewood’s dynamic duo of Nyemah King and Cristina Jones. It’s in those moments when coaches often turn to their seniors for poise and leadership, but this year’s Jackrabbit roster has precisely zero.

Fortunately for the green & gold, experienced junior Andrea Perkins stepped up in crunch time, draining her first three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to cut Poly’s deficit in half. She then scored 12 more in the fourth quarter on her way to a team-high 17 points–a pretty cool way to celebrate her birthday.

“The last three or four games she’s really stepped her game up, like a three-year varsity player should be doing,” said Poly head coach Carl Buggs of Perkins. “Outside shooting was gonna get us back in the game. I told her ‘You make stops, then just keep shooting, shoot it with confidence.’ And she did that.”

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Perkins missed her first five three-pointers on the night, but as soon as that first one went in to cut Lakewood’s lead to 37-34 after three quarters, she didn’t miss another one. Perkins nailed all three of her three-point attempts in the final quarter, getting a friendly bounce off every part of the rim for her final three-ball, which gave Poly a 50-45 lead with 1:45 to play.

After the game, Perkins said she was determined to lead her team to the victory, despite how her evening started.

“I did not want to lose,” said Perkins. “That was my goal, I was not going to lose this game. I know I started off slow, but once I started hitting threes that raised my confidence. I wanted to win the game, that's the simple answer.”

Poly started the game well, racing out to an 8-1 lead in the first quarter and holding a 15-8 edge after the first quarter. That lead dwindled to just one at the half as Lakewood used a 7-0 run in the second quarter to pull within 23-22 at intermission.

Lakewood’s Nyemah King had a game-high 19 points while Cristina Jones added 13 points and 11 rebounds. Laci Berecochea chipped in 13 huge points for the Lancers as well.

The visitors retained their momentum in the third quarter, pulling ahead by six, 37-31, on a bucket from King.

“That was a tough game, they’re a real tough team,” Buggs said of Lakewood. “(King and Jones) were basically doing whatever they wanted to do, and that's been two straight games like that. We haven't run a zone in damn near 12 years, but we had to do something to change it up. And I thought once we went to the zone, it disrupted their flow and then they struggled with their offense after that.”

Meanwhile, Poly’s offense–led by Perkins–came alive in the fourth. After scoring 34 points in the first three quarters, the Jackrabbits poured in 22 points in the final eight minutes to put away the victory.

Brooklyn Taylor had six of her 10 points in the fourth frame, but did a lot more than score for Poly. The junior post also had 17 rebounds, six blocks and a pair of assists. Junior Jaleina Taliauli had 12 points for Poly and Helena Vu chipped in seven.

According to Perkins, despite the fact that this is a relatively young roster, the Jackrabbits were well aware of the program’s history and didn’t want to be the team that let the Moore League winning streak come to an end.

“A lot of pride,” said Perkins. “All of us were like, ‘We're not losing this game. We're not going to lose that legacy that we've had going for a long time.’ And yeah, when it came down to it, we all stepped up and we just didn't want to lose this game.”

The Jackrabbits are now in the driver’s seat for another Moore League title and will visit Wilson on Friday while Lakewood visits Millikan.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Lakewood, Girls’ Basketball
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs. Lakewood, Girls’ Basketball
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.