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LA South: Long Beach Poly girls
a step closer to one for the thumb

3/12/2010

LONG BEACH -- The way the Long Beach Poly girls' basketball team has been playing of late may give the Jackrabbits legitimate claim to the No. 1 national ranking.

Never mind they are No. 6 now in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 and that two of the teams above them -- Mater Dei and Brea Olinda -- defeated the Jackrabbits this season.

Poly, the four-time defending Division I state champion, cruised to an 83-50 victory over Bakersfield Stockdale in a second-round game of the state playoffs Thursday night in a game that was so lopsided the officials used a running click for much of the fourth quarter.

It was the sixth time in seven playoff games that Poly (30-2) has won by 20 points or more and was the 18th double-digit victory in 20 games since the calendar turned to 2010.

"I thought today was the best all-around game we have played all season," Poly Coach Carl Buggs said. "We keep improving every game and that's a coach's dream."

It didn't take long to put away Stockdale (28-5). The Jackrabbits raced to a 22-2 lead before the Mustangs scored their first field goal. Brittany Wilson scored 11 of her 18 points in the first quarter, including three three-pointers during the first four minutes.

Poly, which played its starters for only about 10 minutes each, extended the lead to 81-38 with six minutes left, when officials went to a running clock.

"You don't expect that at this point in the season," Buggs said. "That is a good team, we just played a fantastic game.

Poly made 10 of its first 11 shots from the field and shot 57.3 percent for the game. During the first four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half -- when the Poly starters were on the floor -- the Jackrabbits made an astounding 17 of 24 (70.8 percent) of their field-goal attempts. They made five of seven three-point attempts.

"When we're hitting our outside shots, we're tough," Buggs said. "The way we played tonight it would have been difficult for anyone to beat us."

That includes, presumably, Mater Dei and Brea Olinda. Poly lost to those teams in consecutive games of the Nike Tournament of Champions in December. The four-point loss to Mater Dei and two-point loss to Brea Olinda are the only blemishes on Poly's record.

"I would love another shot at them the way were are playing now," said Sheila Boykin, who scored 15 points in limited action. "I think the way we're playing now, we'd have some of the mistakes we made in those games cleaned up."

Unfortunately for the Jackrabbits, they won't get that opportunity. Mater Dei and Brea Olinda are in Division II, so Poly will have to be content with a possible fifth consecutive Division I title.

"That'd be just fine with me," Buggs said.