Even with last week’s victory over Morningside, Palos Verdes High girls’ basketball Coach Wendell Yoshida had doubts whether the Sea Kings could win the eagerly anticipated rematch Wednesday night.
After all, who beats Morningside twice in 10 days?
Palos Verdes, that’s who.
“We’re true believers now,” Yoshida said, after the Sea Kings defeated the two-time defending State Division I champions, 62-52, at Palos Verdes in the first-ever Ocean League meeting between the South Bay powers.
The victory, coming after the Sea Kings had beaten Morningside in overtime, 55-52, on New Year’s Eve in the final of the L.A. Invitational tournament, was significant for several reasons:
It snapped Morningside’s 89-game league winning streak, the second-longest in CIF-Southern Section history.
It extended Palos Verdes’ league winning streak to 49 games.
It established the Sea Kings as the team to beat in Southern California, where Morningside has reigned supreme for the better part of the last decade.
The magnitude of the accomplishment wasn’t lost on Yoshida.
“These two wins (over Morningside) have to be the highlight of my 11 years (as coach),” he said. “I think we have the capability to be a great team.”
Palos Verdes (16-1 overall, 2-0 in league play) led virtually the entire game and went ahead by as many as 13 points, 45-32, in the third quarter.
Morningside (15-2, 1-1) made two runs at the Sea Kings--near the end of the third quarter and again in the final minutes, cutting its deficit to 56-52 with 1:29 remaining on a layup by sophomore forward Tina Thompson.
But Palos Verdes quickly regained control on a 15-foot basket by 6-foot-5 junior center Jeffra Gausepohl to make it 58-52 with 51 seconds left, and the Sea Kings closed out the contest by making four of five free throws.
For the game, Palos Verdes made 19 of 24 free throws, while Morningside was 12 for 24. The Lady Monarchs were also hurt by 16 turnovers.
“They did a good job at the free-throw line, and we didn’t,” said Morningside first-year Coach Ron Randle, repeating a complaint he voiced after last week’s loss.
Palos Verdes also benefited from balanced scoring. While Morningside relied on 6-4 junior center Janet Davis (game-high 22 points), the Sea Kings had six players who scored eight points or more.
Junior guard Raquel Alotis led the way with 14 points, followed by junior point guard Kristen Mulligan, whose court leadership was a key, and 6-3 junior forward Monique Morehouse with 10 each. The Sea Kings also got a big effort off the bench from forward Misty Folsom, who scored nine.
Randle shrugged off the termination of Morningside’s long league winning streak.
“I was 1-0. I look at it from that standpoint,” he said. “Now I’m 1-1. It’s not a panic situation. We just have to regroup and get ready for the third time around.”