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Basketball Lakewood Long Beach Poly

Girls’ Basketball: Long Beach Poly Pulls Away From Lakewood, Clinches League Title

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

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial

Monday night at Ron Palmer Pavilion was far from a routine coronation for the Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball program. Yes, the Jackrabbits won to clinch another Moore League title, and yes, they haven’t lost a league game in 16 years, but Poly had to fight their way to victory.

The visiting Lakewood Lancers kept things close for most of the night, before Poly ultimately pulled away in the second half for a 53-37 win.

Poly’s offense was slow to get going, missing plenty of quality looks in the first half. But rebounding was a real area of strength, especially on the offensive glass. Eventually, those extra opportunities paid off as they created some separation with a 16-0 run towards the end of the third quarter, resulting in a 16-point win.

“Earlier in the year, we weren’t getting the rebounds, and that’s one of the things we stressed and are trying to improve on,” explained Poly head coach Carl Buggs. “Because we don’t shoot the ball that well, the opportunities will be there. We’re starting to buy in more like, you know what, we are missing a lot of shots. If we miss, we might as well go get them. So that’s working for us.”

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Sophomore Bailey Prewitt led the way for Poly with 15 points, while she and Brooklyn Taylor each had double-digit rebounds on the night. Taylor scored nine, Jazmyne Shamburger had 10 and Jordyn Washington finished with six points for Poly.

“I just kept going, trying to be aggressive and making my way to the free throw line,” said Prewitt of how she approached Monday’s game. “Even though I didn’t get there a lot, I was aggressive and I kept trying.”

Prewitt was also instrumental in Poly’s decisive second-half run, which saw the Jackrabbits turn a 30-28 lead into a 46-28 advantage. Prewitt scored seven of those points herself, assisted on two more, and continued to be a terror on the glass.

“That’s her game, that’s what she does,” Buggs said of Prewitt. “The first part year she couldn’t play because she had to sit out, and we weren’t getting any rebounds. Once she came in, the very first day she played she had 20 rebounds … She just has a knack for finding the ball that you don’t have to teach. You can’t teach that, she just has a knack for it, and that’s a huge part of our offense.”

Poly led just 11-10 after the opening quarter and were up 26-20 at halftime before Lakewood was able to pull back within two. Andrea Perkins hit a big three-pointer to start Poly’s spurt, with Prewitt scoring consecutive buckets to make it 37-28 Jackrabbits after three quarters.

Another big key in Poly’s run was the absence of two Lakewood starters due to injury, most notably guard Nyemah King. She had a game-high 19 points for the Lancers, scoring 16 of Lakewood’s 20 points in the first half.

King knocked knees with a Poly defender, and was unable to shake off her limp the rest of the night. She should be fine for the rest of the season, but was unable to provide the offensive firepower Lakewood needed in the second half. Cristina Jones had seven points for the Lancers and freshman Isabella Ramsey nailed a pair of threes in the fourth quarter to finish with six.

Poly will host Cabrillo on Tuesday before finishing the season at Millikan on Thursday. 

Lakewood has just one game left in the regular season–a trip to play Jordan on Thursday night. That was just a one-point win for the Lancers in the first meeting this season, and a Panthers win could force a tie for second place in the league standings.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs Lakewood Basketball
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs Lakewood 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.