Chaminade girls finally take down Long Beach Poly

Third time’s the charm. After losing to Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals of last year’s
Southern Section Open Division playoffs and then dropping a second consecutive
game to the Jackrabbits in a preseason tournament this season, the Eagles were
eager to exorcise their demons on Friday night in a game that lived up to its
billing. Long Beach Poly came in to the matchup sporting an 18-game winning
streak, but Chaminade was not intimidated. After jumping out to an early 24-9
lead thanks to a relentless full-court press that would give Poly fits all
night long, the Eagles showed that they’re ready for the spotlight. But surely
they had to suspect that the high school that has produced the most
professional athletes in the nation would go on a run.

And boy, did the
Jackrabbits run. Behind the sharpshooting of Da’Jah Jackson, and their
increased physicality, they tied the score with just under five minutes
remaining at 60-60. As the game became a battle of “whose press is better,”
Poly grew increasingly comfortable; it had been there and done that, disposing
of the Eagles twice before thanks to lethal defense. But as was the case in
previous games against Mater Dei, Sierra Canyon, and Alemany this season for
Chaminade, the Eagles were mentally strong down the stretch. They closed the
game on a 17-6 run behind their big three of Paige Fescke, Valerie Higgins, and
Leonna Odom. With momentum play after momentum play, there were just too many
daggers for Poly to overcome.

And now, awaiting
Chaminade in the championship game is a Mater Dei team that has not lost since
the Nov. 29 matchup between the two that saw Chaminade win
60-59. The Monarchs boast a 27-1 record and the best player in the country in
Katie Lou Samuelson. But the Eagles will be ready. Many would argue that Mater
Dei has the most talented team in the country, but the Eagles seem to have the
best fit. Higgins is a triple double machine, Odom is a big time
scorer, and Fescke is a wizard at point guard. Melissa Wright is a
sophomore coming into her own and the bench has been very solid all year long.
It’ll be No. 1 in the country versus No. 2, and the fans should come out en masse. Chaminade
knows there is still a lot to be accomplished, but that doesn’t mean that it
still temporarily bask in the glory of its win over a very good Long Beach Poly
team. Now, on to next weekend!

—Conner Hoyt

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