Prep Sports

PREP BASKETBALL: Playoffs start soon for area girls’ basketball teams

After nearly four months of buzzer-beating layups, jump shots and pressure-packed free throws, many area girls’ basketball teams are preparing for the Los Angeles City Section and Southern Section playoffs.

Thanks to a steady diet of non-league games against elite, highly ranked girls’ basketball programs, several area teams are ready. Others are just trying to reach the playoffs the best way they can.

Years ago, the thought of area teams competing against powerhouse programs from Orange County, the Inland Empire, San Gabriel Valley, the High Desert, San Diego County, Northern California and in rare cases, outside California was just that, a mere thought.

Usually, the occasion was a high-profile tournament or showcase, reserved for elite teams that were recognized as top-flight programs, either from Morningside High (coached by Frank Scott), Washington Prep (coached by Phil Chase and Julie Rousseau), or from Locke High (coached by Art Webb and Lucish Franklin), Westchester (coached by Beverlie Pendleton) and Lynwood (coached by Maurice Roberson and Ellis Barfield).

Those great teams competed in ultra-competitive leagues, that comprised of other strong programs, but things are different now.

All of the aforementioned programs, except for Westchester and Lynwood, aren’t the contenders they used to be, but they are trying to survive in a different basketball environment, that includes an “open” transfer system that benefits certain programs.

Here is a partial list of area players who performed well during the 2017-18 regular season, which concludes Feb. 9. They are listed in no particular order.

Ashley Austin, Rayah Marshall and Miracle Saxon. The trio is helping Lynwood High (17-6) retain control of the San Gabriel Valley League.

Ilani Avila, Rachel Spinosa, Pricilla Arecibia and Surie Camacho. Thanks to this group of leaders, Downey High (19-5) is almost guaranteed to make the playoffs.

Destyni Heard and Amari Metcalfe. King-Drew (15-5), coached by Kevin Matthews, is in the thick of the tough Marine League race to finish a few steps behind front-runner Narbonne.

Charisma Osborne, Kamil English and Elyse Shepherd. Windward (17-3) is a team to be reckoned with at this time of the season.

Retha Little, Devoni Hall, Imani McGregory and Liz Elliott. St. Mary’s Academy of Inglewood is a team on a mission.

Dawnyel Lair, Jaedyn Evans, Chassen Gutierrez. If Fairfax High (22-4) maintains its poise, then it will get stronger in the playoffs.

D’Arrah Allen, Machari Johnson and Precious Onwuka. For Leuzinger (19-6), its tough non-league schedule proved beneficial in various ways.

Rowan Smith, Samantha Spanier, Sophia Lee. All three standouts help Marlborough (16-4), coached by Chris Rodgers, stay in command of the Sunshine League.

Vanessa Aguirre, Sally Smith, Jocelyn Song. Mark Keppel High (24-3), coached by Jose Herrera, began the season in strong fashion and has not stopped since then.

Rachel Duru, Alexis Tucker, Cheyenne Givens and Delauna Thomas. Serra High (19-4) is hitting its stride at the right time.

Treasure Sylve, Emoddishae Williams, Trinity Williams and Arianna Bowden. This group helps Crenshaw (11-0) stay well-rested and undefeated.

Kierra Haynes, Jaidin LaCount and Bra’Nya Richson. This core helps fuel Dorsey (11-7) in its quest for the postseason.

Correction: It was noted in the Feb. 1 edition that Lynwood High standout Carl Lewis is a senior. Lewis is actually a junior.