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Lynwood Sends Signal It Cannot Be Ignored


Lynwood's dominance has become so apparent, even Harbor City Narbonne--a state champion from the City Section the last two seasons--is talking about it.

"I told the girls, if we played them today, I don't think we can beat them," said Narbonne Coach James Anderson, who knows it's likely his team will have to get past Lynwood's Sade Wiley-Gatewood and Janice Bright in order to reach the state title game.

Narbonne (10-3) and Lynwood (13-0) played in consecutive games Saturday at Lynwood in the California Hoops Challenge, and neither was challenged.

Lynwood beat Brea Olinda, which was No. 9 last week, 53-29. Narbonne followed with a 65-39 victory over then-No. 6 Lakewood Artesia.

"Lynwood is playing at such a high level right now," Anderson said. "Brea's not at the level they've been in the past, but Brea is still good, and Lynwood beat Brea like a drum."

It was the second-worst beating Brea has absorbed since the 1995-96 season, when Santa Ana Mater Dei beat the Ladycats by 37 points.

Anderson said the game against Artesia was bigger for Narbonne than it was for Artesia.

"The teams that have given us problems are teams like Artesia, quick," he said, fully aware that Lynwood fits into the ultra-quick category. "We've beaten some good teams, but I think it's important that we take care of business at home. We need to get some confidence back."

Before playing at Lynwood, Narbonne had played all its games at either Brea, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Phoenix or Atlanta.

One of Narbonne's losses was to Jacksonville (Fla.) Ribault, 54-48. Brea Coach Jeff Sink saw Ribault, and called it the best high school team he had ever seen. On Saturday, Sink said if Lynwood used its post players more in its offense, the Knights would be "unbeatable."

They already seem to be.

Poly perfect: Where do Kameca Simmons, Aja Trotter and Long Beach Poly fit into the mix with Lynwood and Narbonne?

Like Lynwood, the Jackrabbits are in Division I-AA, and if the two should meet in the Southern Section finals, both will advance to the state regionals regardless of the outcome.

Like Lynwood, Poly (15-0) is undefeated, having won the Ayala Best of the West tournament last week with a 60-44 victory over Moore League rival Long Beach Wilson. This season, Poly has beaten Westchester, Torrance Bishop Montgomery, Lakewood Artesia, Rialto Eisenhower, Pasadena Muir and Long Beach Wilson--all teams in The Times' top 25--and two other teams ranked previously, Valencia and Playa del Rey St. Bernard.

So is it time to refer to Lynwood, Narbonne and Poly in the same breath?

"Until we play them and beat them, there's no way to tell," Poly Coach Carl Buggs said. "Comparative scores, definitely. But they've had success, and we're trying to get there."

Buggs said he tried to get his team into the Brea tournament and the Nike Tournament of Champions, but both were "overbooked."

"We've got to do something special this year to get some invites," Buggs said. "We don't run from competition. But if a tournament's full, what can you do?"

Something lacking: After playing Narbonne a month ago, Lauren Ervin talked about the rematch. The 6-foot-3 junior center from Artesia called Narbonne "beatable" and the 74-66 loss that night to the Gauchos "upsetting."

But Ervin's resolve apparently didn't carry over to Saturday's game. Coach Scott Roczey benched her in the fourth quarter for "giving up."

"Lauren became frustrated, and I took her out," Roczey said. "She had ample opportunity to work through it. We have other girls on the team who work hard and want to play."

Artesia also played without its other top post player, 6-foot-2 junior Cacie Pope. She was suspended for the Narbonne game because she was ejected from the previous game, a 75-67 loss to Poly.

"Brea's down in talent from the past, but they always have effort," Roczey said. "We have talent, we just don't always give the effort."

Junior achievement: Muir's junior varsity won the open division at the Ayala tournament, going 5-0 against varsity teams from Coachella Valley (11-7), Alta Loma (3-11), Monrovia (11-6), Chaffey (10-6) and Ganesha (4-9).

Three-pointers: Ventura made 12 three-point baskets to beat Heuneme, 65-20. Ventura has 141 in 15 games.... Beverly Hills defeated Compton Centennial, 73-4. Centennial scored on two second-quarter free throws and a third-quarter field goal.

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