BAKERSFIELD — Winning the City 3-A Girls' championship doesn't prove that a team can compete on the Division I level in the State High School Championships, as San Pedro demonstrated Tuesday night.
Of course, the Pirates had a little help from Delano, which ran away from San Pedro, 54-32, in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Championships at Bakersfield College. Delano (27-0), champion of the Central Section, goes on to play Southern Section 4-A champion Lynwood on Thursday night at Mayfair High School in Lakewood.
While Delano proved its merit as a Division I school, San Pedro proved that it probably belongs in a lower division.
"I don't believe the (City) 3-A should be in Division I," San Pedro Coach Joseph Orona said. "We can't compete with teams like Lynwood and (Pasadena) Muir."
On Tuesday, it was more of question of being able to keep up. Delano's fast break ran circles around San Pedro, which could not get closer than 11 points after falling behind, 16-4, in the first quarter.
After San Pedro scored the first basket for its only lead, Delano got its break going. The Tigers' offense was led by guards Susan Lowry and Melanie Wallace. Lowry had 8 points and 6 assists in the first half, with most of the assists coming off baskets by Wallace, who had all of her 12 points in the first half.
"We were very surprised by their break," Orona said. "It was really their fast break that hurt us."
Delano's fast break hurt for a half, anyway, as the Tigers led, 30-16, at intermission. San Pedro made adjustments in the second half to counter the break, closing the gap to 11 by the end of the third quarter.
But hopes of a Pirate comeback were dashed as Delano forced turnover after turnover in the fourth quarter, leading to even more fast breaks. In a span of three minutes, Delano had increased its lead to 17 and never looked back.
"They tried very hard," Delano Coach Linda Jones said. "I just think we were a superior team."
Orona was also impressed with the crowd support for Delano, which claims to have one of the largest followings in the Central Valley. And one of the loudest, too. After every shot, Delano rooters let out a deafening roar, and at one point they even tried a wave.
"We have nothing like this in Southern California," Orona said. "That's what I would like to see in our area."
Lowry, with 16 points, and Monique Fortson, with 18, including 14 in the second half, led Delano.