Windward advances to Open Division girls’ state championship game

Coach Vanessa Nygaard talks strategy with Windward players during a timeout in the Southern California Open Division final, in which the Wildcats beat Clovis West to reach the state championship game.
(Nick Koza)

A year ago, Windward High coach Vanessa Nygaard played the 1986 sports movie “Hoosiers” for her girls’ basketball team on the long bus ride to Sacramento en route to winning a Division I state championship. The players were so young they had no idea what she was talking about when she mentioned the “picket fence play.”

Nygaard is already searching for new movie for next week’s drive on the way to playing for the state Open Division championship. The Wildcats (27-3) will be rolling into the Golden 1 Center in the state capital after knocking off defending champion Clovis West 61-50 in the Southern California Regional championship game Saturday at Long Beach State.

As usual, standout junior guard Charisma Osborne was magnificent. She scored 22 points and contributed nine rebounds and three assists.

Windward broke the game open by turning a one-point halftime lead into a 45-31 advantage after three quarters. And it was Osborne’s teammates stepping forward when she had to leave briefly because of cramps.


“I have no clue what happened,” Osborne said.

Sela Kay and Kamil English each made three-point baskets, putting to rest any hopes for a Clovis West comeback with Osborne on the bench.

“It was a great way to respond,” Nygaard said.

Said Clovis West coach Craig Campbell: “The other kids made us pay when we did a decent job on her.”

Osborne came back in the fourth quarter, providing court leadership against Clovis West’s full-court press. The Wildcats found openings to get easy baskets.

English finished with 12 points and Kay had 10.

Madison Campbell scored 18 points for Clovis West.

Ignoring its size disadvantage, Gardena Serra used its quickness and toughness to earn a trip to Sacramento, defeating Ribet 58-46 in the Division I girls’ regional final .

There were 23 fouls in the first half, and Ribet couldn’t recover. Standout Lola Penande, a 6-foot-4 forward who was a member of Spain’s U18 national team, picked up four fouls in the first quarter.

Lauryn Pointer finished with 17 points to lead Serra, including three three-pointers that helped open up the Ribet defense that featured 6-9 Andrea Aquino. Cheyenne Gives scored 16 points, Alexis Tucker 13 and Racheal Duru 10.

“Foul trouble early hurt us,” Ribet coach Nelson Wong said. “It took us away from what we wanted to do. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t climb out of.”

Aquino finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Serra will play San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral in next weekend’s state championship game at Golden 1 Center.

Twitter: @latsondheimer