Point Loma High School did Saturday night what no other team in either the Southern Section or the Southern Regional playoffs had been able to do--solve Lynwood's swarming defense.
The antidote was Point Loma's own defense. The Pointers threw the Knights off-balance just enough and at the right times to record a 53-50 Southern Regional final playoff victory at the Sports Arena.
Point Loma, the defending State champion, advances to next Saturday night's State finals at Oakland against Sacramento Grant, the Northern Regional winner.
As had been the case in Lynwood's upset victories over Ventura Buena and Pasadena Muir in the 4-A playoffs, the Knights' scrappy defense and quickness made up for their lack of height. Indeed, Lynwood Coach Van Girard figured Point Loma was the tallest team his team had faced.
Michelle Collum of Point Loma proved to be the Pointers' best defender. She also was their best offensive player.
Collum hounded Lynwood's speedy guard, Trise Jackson, and still managed to score a game-high 19 points.
"They were a very, very, very fast team," Collum said. "That girl I was guarding was just like a bullet."
Jackson, a 5-foot 8-inch sophomore, did scoot past Collum for a team-high 14 points. But Collum, a 6-0 senior forward, held Jackson in check early while Point Loma (30-1) built leads of as many as 10 points in the first half.
However, when Jackson made a layup and Antoinette White hit a short jumper, Lynwood trailed by just 48-46 with fewer than three minutes to play.
But the Pointers held off every Lynwood charge in the final minutes. And with Point Loma leading, 53-50, underdog Lynwood's improbable run through the playoffs ended on an equally improbable play.
It happened with just 21 seconds left and with Kim Bivins, who holds the distinction of being the only Knight over 6-feet tall, on the free-throw line shooting one-and-one.
Point Loma's Liza Carrillo and Lynwood's Anita Martinez leaned a little too far into the key as Bivins readied for her shot. Martinez took a nose dive into the key. The result: Lane violation--ball to Point Loma.
"The one thing was that they never tied us late," Point Loma Coach Lee Trepanier said.
The Pointers defense made sure of that.