An hour before Saturday's City Section Division I girls' championship game, Janitah Iamaleava of Carson was talking on her cellphone on the court at USC's Galen Center receiving a pep talk from her future college coach, Oregon's Paul Westhead.
Iamaleava, a 6-foot-2 senior, played inspired basketball, contributing 25 points and 10 rebounds as Carson upset top-seeded Harbor City Narbonne, 64-55, to win its second consecutive Division I title.
Carson (19-10) had lost twice by double digits to Narbonne (29-4) during Marine League play, but a healthy Chante Miles (knee injury) was a big difference on Saturday. Miles' court leadership and free-throw shooting (11 of 14) were key factors. Miles finished with 17 points.
It was only in 2009 that Carson defeated Narbonne for the first time in 15 years. Now the Colts have beaten the six-time City champion Gauchos in back-to-back championship games under Coach Marcel Sanders, and this victory was the most surprising of all.
"It's a blessing because we lost to them twice during league and it feels good to finally have a good game," Iamaleava said. "This was probably our best game this season."
Added Sanders: "Narbonne is our nemesis. Their pressure on defense always causes problems for us. We just decided we were going to settle down and play basketball."
Also contributing with hustle and rebounding was Annie Currie.
Crucial to the victory was Carson's quick start. The Colts jumped out to an 8-0 lead, gained confidence and never let up.
Both schools will begin action in the state Division I playoffs next week.