High-SchoolCalifornia: Imani Stafford

Windward Wins No. 1 vs. 2 Showdown

February, 3, 2012
Nike Extravaganza, Jordin Canada, basketball, high school basketball, Winward High SchoolScott Kurtz/ESPNHSWinward (Los Angeles) sophomore phenom Jordin Canada was one of three girls in double- figure scoring (10 pts.) in the top-ranked Wildcats' 65-62 win over No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana).
Important announcement from Cal-Hi Sports | Archived Cal-Hi Sports content

Victory by the Wildcats gives them the edge if it comes down to them and Mater Dei at the end of the season for the girls' hoops State Team of the Year honor since the two teams will be in different divisions in the postseason. Go inside here as well for highlights of other games played Friday at the Nike Extravaganza, including Mater Dei boys.

Related: Nike Extravaganza Saturday preview

The marquee game of Friday's session at the Nike Extravaganza pitted the top two teams in the Cal-Hi Sports girls state rankings was everything it was cracked up to be.

In the end, it was the size of No. 1 Windward of Los Angeles that proved the undoing of host No. 2 Mater Dei of Santa Ana in a 65-62 Wildcats' victory.

“Windward is a great team,” said Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan. “They executed and moved the ball real well and beat us pretty good on the boards.”

Windward (20-2) used its size advantage to finish with a 45-22 rebounding advantage.

Macchi Smith, the hero of Windward’s 56-55 victory last Saturday over No. 4 Long Beach Poly, came through again. The sophomore guard had a team-high 16 points, including a rebound and put back off the front end of a one-and-one free-throw attempt by Imani Stafford with 26 seconds left that sealed the deal.

The 6-foot-7 Texas-bound Stafford only had nine points, but she pulled down 16 rebounds and blocked three shots, including a 3-point attempt by Mater Dei’s Khalia Lark with 2.5 seconds left.

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New Cal-Hi Sports Girls BB Top 20

January, 31, 2012
Important announcement from Cal-Hi Sports | Archived Cal-Hi Sports content

No. 1 Windward doesn’t think of itself as being state’s best heading into Saturday matchup with No. 2 Mater Dei. “They’re No. 1,” says Windward coach Steve Smith. This week’s only newcomers, by the way, are St. Ignatius of San Francisco and Lynwood.

Last Saturday’s marquee game of the eight-team Real Run Classic at Long Beach City College featured state No. 1 Windward of Los Angeles against No. 3 Long Beach Poly and as one would expect it went down to the wire with Windward holding on for a 54-53 win.

After opening a 51-42 lead with 3:45 left, Windward saw it evaporate after an 11-1 Jackrabbit run gave Poly a 53-52 advantage with 1:28 remaining.

Three lead changes later, Macchiati Smith hit a left-handed running layup with 11.5 seconds remaining for the game-winner.

Even after the sophomore’s basket, the game was far from over. The Wildcats used a foul at the seven-second mark. Courtney Jaco then forced a jump ball with 1.4 seconds remaining. With the 6-foot-7 Imani Stafford defending the inbounds and forcing a pass out beyond the arc, a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer by Poly’s Justyce Dawson clanked off the rim.

Jordin Canada dazzled the Long Beach City College crowd with a game-high 22 points and four assists.

Sophomore Arica Carter paced the Jackrabbits with 18 points while Destiny King scored 16 and added five steals and four rebounds.

The reward for coach Steve Smith and his girls is a road game at No. 2 Mater Dei where the state’s top spot will be at stake in a much-anticipated game Friday at the Nike Extravaganza in Santa Ana.

“It’s just like boxing. You have to knock out the champion,” Smith told Cal-Hi Sports.

“Hey, I saw them destroy Poly by 42 points in a game during fall when they were healthy,” Smith continued. “We may be the top-ranked team right now, but until someone in-state beats Mater Dei they’re number one in the state.”

Smith has a point. The Monarchs also have been State Team of the Year for 2010 and 2011.

(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(After games of Saturday, Jan. 28)

1. (1) Windward (Los Angeles) 18-3
Prior to the win against Long Beach Poly, the Wildcats had a running clock win over crosstown Pacific Hills. Sophomore 6-foot Kristen Simon had a double-double 21 points and 10 rebounds. This week, before taking on Mater Dei, the girls have two Alpha League games at nearby Brentwood and at home against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon.

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