Long Beach Poly tops Brea Olinda, 55-53
A man in the front row of the Pyramid chanted “overrated” after Brea Olinda’s Jeanette Pohlen missed a couple of shots early in the game Friday against Long Beach Poly.
He quieted down by the end. His team, Long Beach Poly, walked off the floor a winner, but the Jackrabbits were breathing hard after escaping the Pyramid with a 55-53 victory in the Southern Section Division I-AA title game.
It was a game in which the match-up between Poly (31-1), ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 3 in the nation by Student Sports, and Brea (30-1), ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 6 in the nation, lived up to expectations.
Stanford-bound Pohlen scored 30 of her team’s 53 points. She also had 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists.
It was a game for stars. Poly’s Jasmine Dixon scored 17, and Washington-bound senior Candice Nichols scored 13.
But it was also a game for supporting cast members. With the score 49-49, Poly’s Kelli Thompson made a three-point basket with 1:30 left in the game, and Jameia McDuffie made three of four free throws to give the Jackrabbits a 55-51 lead with 54 seconds to go.
“I told my assistants, what do you think about putting Kelli in,” said Poly Coach Carl Buggs, whose team won the Division I state title a year ago. “We went with a gut feeling, and she stroked it. That was the turning point right there.”
Pohlen added two free throws with 47 seconds left, but there was no more magic for Brea. The final seconds played out with Brea stealing the ball, and getting the ball to sophomore Melody Chavez about 24 feet from the basket. Chavez shot at the buzzer, but it was well short.
Brea should still get into the state Division II tournament. Norco, the Chino Hills Ayala/Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon winner and Ontario Colony could claim three of the four available spots. Poly will play in Division I.