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HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Long Beach Poly wins its fourth state title in a row

The Jackrabbits defeat Danville Monte Vista, 57-33.

March 22, 2009|Ben Bolch

SACRAMENTO — What do you call the newest four-time defending state champion in girls' basketball?

Long Beach Poly.

The Jackrabbits won their fourth consecutive state Division I title Saturday night at Arco Arena by pulling away from Danville Monte Vista in the second half of a 57-33 victory.

"We wanted to create history," said Poly senior forward Monique Oliver, who had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Poly (32-3) is the fifth girls' team in California to win four consecutive state titles and the first to win all four at the Division I level.

"I don't think it's hit me I've won four back to back to back to back," said Jackrabbits senior guard Kelli Thompson, a member of all four teams. "I've gone to Poly-Lynwood games since the fifth grade, so I knew the tradition before I even got here."

Junior forward Ta'Nitra Byrd scored a team-high 12 points off the bench for Poly, which extended a two-point halftime lead to 13 points in the third quarter by ratcheting up its defensive pressure and making things difficult for Monte Vista star guard Niveen Rasheed.

Rasheed scored only six of her 16 points in the second half for the Mustangs (29-3) before fouling out for the first time this season with 3 minutes 4 seconds left in the game.

As Poly players accepted their championship medals on the court afterward, some held their hands aloft with four fingers extended as a symbol of their run. Did they coin any new phrases to signify the achievement?

"Four-peat is fine," said Thompson, who scored two points. "I honestly think they can get back next year to keep rising in the history book."

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Stockton St. Mary's 71, Inglewood 62 -- The Sentinels' first appearance in a state title game unraveled when the Rams used a 24-5 run to close the second quarter and open the third to win the Division III championship.

"They just kind of overwhelmed us a little bit with their pressure defense," said Inglewood Coach Anthony Scott, whose team had 13 more turnovers than St. Mary's.

Informed that his team committed 36 turnovers, Scott said, "Wow. We usually [force] 36 turnovers."

Senior forward Tayler Champion had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Sentinels (19-17), whose late rally came up short after they trailed by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.

Junior guard Afure Jemerigbe had 23 points for St. Mary's (31-3), which won its fifth state title and first since 2004.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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