Quite simply, there was no way that the Delano High School basketball team could keep up with Lynwood in Thursday night's Girls Division I Southern Regional semifinal game at Mayfair High in Lakewood. So, for the record, Lynwood won, 61-41.
Delano, the Central Section champion, came into the game with a 27-0 record. In addition, the Tigers towered over Lynwood, which has an average height of just 5-feet 8-inches.
But, the Knights have dealt with adversity before and won before. They always counter with quickness and a swarming defense. Better teams than Delano have fallen to this combination.
First, Lynwood (28-4) beat Ventura Buena, which was undefeated, in the Southern Section 4-A semifinals.
Then, Lynwood beat Pasadena Muir, the nation's top-ranked team, in two overtimes (54-52) to win the 4-A title.
"We might be little--people tend to underestimate us--but we make up for it with our quickness," Lynwood Coach Van Girard said.
Sophomore guard Trise Jackson scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half as Lynwood used its full-court press and trapping defense to throw Delano off stride.
The Knights led, 35-20, at halftime but it could have been more. They missed numerous layups and were just three for eight at the free-throw line.
"I knew they had never seen a man defense or a press like ours," Girard said. "We knew we had the better athletes and the better team."
That was evident early on. Twice before the end of the first quarter, point guard Anita Martinez made easy steals in the backcourt which led to layups. Jackson, a 5-7 forward, had eight points off fastbreak layups.
"When we started running you saw them dragging," Girard said.
In the second half, reserve Antoinette White picked up where Jackson left off. She scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half.
Lynwood must now face San Diego Pt. Loma, which beat Kennedy, 46-36, in the Southern Regional final. The Pointers are the two-time defending state champions and have a high-scoring center, Terri Mann.
But Lynwood has been in this position before.