Narbonne defeats Chatsworth to win girls championship
Larry Drew Jr. made the McDonald’s All-American team and will play for North Carolina next season, but something was missing from his stellar resume – a City championship. And after watching the playoffs from the sidelines last year, he wouldn’t his last chance pass by without it.
In front of a packed Sports Arena on Saturday night that included NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson and his father, Larry Drew Sr., an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, Drew went off for 24 points, six rebounds and six assists as he led Taft (25-3) to their second City title with a 65-55 win over defending champion Fairfax in a rematch of the 2004 final.
“He’s the most disruptive force in the state of California,” Taft head coach Derrick Taylor said, “He controls the tempo of every single game and he’s unguardable. He dominated this basketball game.”
Often overlooked in the discussion of great point guards across the nation, Drew proved why he’ll be playing with the best prep players in the country on March 26 as he willed his team to victory with several amazing shots, including a scoop shot underneath Fairfax center Renardo Sidney that had the fans on the feet.
“We knew we were going to be on this stage and we planned everything around tonight’s game,” Drew said. “I’ve dreamt of this night a thousand times and I can’t ask for anything else.”
With their entire starting five returning and motivated by missing last year’s playoffs, Taft began the year as the favorites to win the City title and they didn’t disappoint, scoring wins over Westchester, Dominguez ( twice) and now Fairfax – all nationally ranked teams at one point during the season.
Fairfax (25-5) may have brought the biggest gun in 6-foot-10 Sidney but a one-man gang couldn’t stop the effectiveness of a team searching for redemption and finding it in the old confines of the Sports Arena
Sidney finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds but got little help from his supporting cast as the team finished in the runner-up slot for the sixth time in school history.
The Lions had trouble stopping Drew off the dribble but on offense, their shooting touch failed them as they got cold during the second and third quarter when Taft made their run.
Both teams will advance to this week’s Division I state regionals starting on Monday, where both teams will have a home game Monday night.
Narbonne 68, Chatsworth 57 – Reiko Thomas has hit plenty of big shots for Narbonne during her career but the senior guard may have topped herself in the City Championship final.
Thomas scored 26 points in the Lady Gauchos’ 68-57 victory over Chatsworth at the Sports Arena on Saturday, but none were bigger than the two long-distance three pointers she nailed from way beyond the arc with the shot-clock winding down late in the fourth quarter.
“My teammates were just yelling at me to shoot to ball so I was like, okay, I can shoot threes but I don’t think I could shoot from that far out,” Thomas said, who announced after the game that she would be attending Arizona next year.
The late shots from 28 and 24 feet away, respectively, were the knockout blows in a back-and-forth heavyweight fight between the City’s best that lived up to not disappoint the worthy hype placed on it. No team had a bigger lead than six until Narbonne pulled away down the stretch with their free throws.
In her first season at Narbonne, head coach Victoria Sanders faced the tough task of continuing the program’s legacy and did so while proving all the doubters wrong who saw them as underdogs in the final.
“[We went from] No. 3 to No. 1 real quick,” Sanders said, alluding to team’s No. 3 seed in the City bracket.
Chatsworth, now 0-3 in the City championship game, was led by sophomore guard Monica Jackson (16 points) and Arizona-State bound senior Kimberly Brandon (15 pts, 11 rebounds). Kimberly (15 points and 11 rebounds) and her sister Jennifer (9 pts. and 9 rebs.) were limited by foul trouble as Narbonne’s defense kept them from taking control.
After missing last year’s playoffs due to City sanctions, the Gauchos were focused to not leave the Sports Arena without the City title, something they hadn’t done since 2004.
Both teams will now advance to the Division I state regionals and will be in action Monday night.