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Poly a winner behind Dixon

March 25, 2007|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The high-profile players on the Long Beach Poly girls' basketball team came through in the clutch Saturday night in the state Division I championship game.

Jasmine Dixon matched her season high with 23 points and had a team-high 11 rebounds and Candice Nichols scored 17 to lift the Jackrabbits to a 58-52 victory over Berkeley at Arco Arena.

Poly (36-1), ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today, also defeated Berkeley (27-2) in last season's state title game.

Berkeley Coach Gene Nakamura, who this season announced his retirement, said Dixon was virtually unstoppable.

"She's a guard who's playing inside for them," he said. "She's so strong, she was basically out-rebounding our girls."

Among them was Alexandria Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 center who has signed with Oregon State. She finished with 19 points and six rebounds, but for the second consecutive season was not a factor.

The game turned in Poly's favor early in the second quarter. After the Yellowjackets tied the score, 17-17, the Jackrabbits followed with an 18-4 run, highlighted by 12 points from Dixon.

"She sees a little crease and she just slides through," said Nakamura, who has eight section and two state titles among his 563 victories at Berkeley.

Mitchell did not make her second field goal until one minute remained in the half. She was then called for her third foul with 10 seconds left when she grabbed a rebound and elbowed freshman Ashley Wilson in the ribs, knocking her to the ground.

Nichols, a Washington State-bound guard who averaged 10.2 points entering the game, scored 11 in the first half.

Dixon, a 5-11 junior who averaged 14.9 points, kept rolling in the third quarter, converting a three-point play and sinking a short jump shot to extend the lead to 46-27.

Dixon said she did not put any additional pressure on herself to perform well simply because it was for a state championship.

"I come to play with that mind-set all the time," she said. "Step my game up and be a leader."

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