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GIRLS' 3-A CHAMPIONSHIP : Jefferson Outlasts Narbonne, 60-53, for 1st City Title


The premonition of victory came a little sooner to Kyetra Brown than to her Jefferson High teammates.

"After the the first quarter, I was pretty sure we were going to win," said Brown, a 5-foot-6 guard who had 14 points and nine assists. "At halftime, I knew we had it won."

She was right. The Democrats hung on for a 60-53 victory over Narbonne to capture its first City girls' basketball title in the 3-A final Friday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

The top-seeded Democrats held a 30-19 lead at halftime and led by as many as 15 in the first half.

However, the unseeded Gauchos opened the second half with an 8-2 run to close it to 32-29 on a three-point basket by Valerie Ogawa with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

"We gave them a chance, but we couldn't slack up," Jefferson forward Shonte Tippie said. "I didn't know if we could stop them or not."

Tippie's fears proved unfounded.

The Eastern League champion Democrats raced to a 7-0 lead before Narbonne scored its first points on a layup by Ogawa with 3:36 left in the first quarter. They opened a 43-31 lead after three quarters and scored 15 of the next 17 points. Narbonne was unable to get closer than six thereafter.

"Every time we made a run, they seemed to have something in reserve," Narbonne Coach Glenn Kaminishi said.

Tippie scored seven of her game-high 20 points, including a three-point basket, during the stretch. She also pulled down 12 rebounds in the game.

Chaka Smith added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Helen Ruano had eight points and four blocks for Jefferson, which closed out the season with a 26-3 record, winning its final 12 games and 15 of its last 16.

"I don't care what anybody thinks, I never say we've won until the game is over," Smith said. "Anything can happen. I wasn't sure until there were 20 seconds left."

Smith and Tippie opened the fourth quarter with consecutive baskets to culminate a 15-2 run which gave Jefferson a 47-33 advantage a minute into the fourth quarter.

Smith converted a three-point play to give Jefferson, which never trailed, its biggest lead, 52-35, with just over five minutes to play. Although the Gauchos went on a tear after that with 18 points, they ran out of steam.

Denise Takamoto had a team-high 14 points for Narbonne, which finishes the season with a 16-11 record. Valerie Ogawa and Lenora Tuisalo'o scored 13 each.

Records: Jefferson 26-3; Narbonne 16-11.

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