They are rivals who have a sincere passion to beat the other.
Thursday night, they played like it.
Top-ranked Mt. Carmel and No. 3 Poway renewed their annual battle for league supremacy, but unlike the first meeting, when they met for the championship of the Bronco Invitational, Poway played like the team everyone expected it to be. The Titan girls upset Mt Carmel, 52-34, and became king of the mountain in the Palomar League.
It was a sweet case of revenge for the Titans (12-1, 4-0), who beat Mt. Carmel (9-1, 3-1) three times last season before losing in the semifinals to the eventual San Diego Section champs, and who lost 56-39 to the Sundevils in their first meeting in the preseason.
“I wasn’t thinking about last year,” Poway Coach Jay Trousdale said. “I was more interested in improving on our effort from the last time we played them.”
The Titans improved, all right, out-rebounding Mt. Carmel 41-36 after being out-rebounded badly in the season’s first meeting. And it wasn’t until the fourth period that Mt. Carmel scored 10 points in a quarter.
Two of Poway’s four players who sat through the disappointment of 1990, juniors Allison Brady and Stephanie Guerena, were the catalysts in Poway’s victory.
“We knew someone would be hot, we just didn’t know who,” said Mt. Carmel forward Vicki de Jesus, who is recovering from a pulled hamstring suffered Jan. 2.
Brady scored 12 points in the first half, including 10 in the second quarter, as Poway increased a 10-7 lead to a 22-16 margin. Although only six points, it set the stage for Guerena, who scored eight points in the third quarter with an impressive display of outside shooting.
Brady finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, Guerena with 14 points and six steals.
“Both girls have had slow starts and both girls in the last two weeks have played their best basketball of the year,” Trousdale said.
The Titans outscored Mt. Carmel 17-8 with Guerena making four baskets on the right wing from 15-17 feet.
She had two baskets in an 8-0 run early in the quarter, and four more points in the final 1:35 in which Poway scored six unanswered points; her final basket came with no time remaining to make it 39-24.
Although Mt. Carmel rallied to 39-30, Guerena added two more field goals and Brady added three points in another 8-0 run to ice the game.
Poway’s Wendi Swinehart came off the bench and scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and played steady defense. Trousdale said it was her best game of the year.
Kristen Carlson and Kara Berg had nine rebounds apiece. De Jesus, averaging 16.8 points per game, was held to one field goal in each quarter and 10 points total. She led the Sundevils in scoring.
Jennifer Alley scored eight points. She started at forward for the first time because Mt. Carmel Coach Tracey Johnson was informed five minutes before departing to Poway that starter Nicol Nicholas contracted the chicken pox.