Los Angeles Preps: Courtney Jaco

LA North and LA South: Windward 68, La Jolla Country Day 58

March, 19, 2011

ONTARIO -- The third time and Imani Stafford were the charms for the Windward girls' basketball team against La Jolla Country Day.

Windward beat Country Day, 68-58, to win the CIF Division IV Southern California Regional final at Colony High School on Saturday.

It was the third time Windward and Country Day have met this season. Country Day had won the previous two games.

Stafford, Windward’s 6-foot-7 junior center, missed the first two games against Country Day. She made her presence felt in the regional final.

“She’s huge,” Windward coach Steve Smith said. “They had to pay attention to that.”

She scored nine points and had 16 rebounds. She was a force in the paint, altering Country Day’s shots throughout the game. Freshman teammate Kristen Simon shouldered the load with Stafford in the paint with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Down two points, 46-44, entering the fourth quarter, Windward went on a 19-4 run. Jordin Canada sparked the surge scoring five of her team’s first eight points in the fourth quarter. Courtney Jaco knocked down a couple key 3-pointers in the run as Windward built a 64-51 lead.

Canada finished with 14 points and five assists. Jaco poured in a game-high 18 points and made six 3-pointers.

Kelsey Plum scored 18 points for Country Day. Maya Hood had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
CIF Southern California Regional final

Girls Division IV

Colony High School in Ontario

La Jolla Country Day (27-4) vs. Windward (27-4), Saturday, 5 p.m

La Jolla Country Day and Windward have played twice this season. The first time was in the championship game of the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 Tournament in December. Country Day won that game, 71-53.

The second game was a bit closer. Country Day won in overtime, 45-39, in the Nike Tournament of Champions on Dec. 22.

In both games, Windward was without its leading rebounder and shot blocker Amani Stafford. She missed the first 13 games of the season trying to improve her grades. Not that she was struggling acadamically – Windward coach Steve Smith said she had a 3.2 grade-point average – but she wanted to get it above the 3.5 mark.

“It was a catch-22,” Smith said. “We would probably have two losses instead of four losses. But we had to develop at a more rapid pace. It prepared us for Bishop Montgomery.”

Windward has beaten Bishop Montgomery twice, including in the championship game of the Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs. Windward also has wins over Oaks Christian, Fullerton Rosary and Atascadero in the playoffs.

Since Stafford returned to the team, Windward is 18-0. The Wildcats are coming off a 79-40 win over LACES in the semifinals of the Southern California Division IV Regional on Saturday night.

Country Day has a seven-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since Feb. 4 to Mater Dei in the Nike Extravaganza. The Torreys won the San Diego Section Division IV championship over The Bishop’s.

Key players: Windward has six players who have scored more than 200 points this season. Jordin Canada leads the team with 12.4 points per game. Stafford is second at 12.3 points per game. Courtney Jaco is scoring 12.2 points per game. Stafford leads the team with 11.9 rebounds per game and 4.3 blocks per game. Canada, the team’s freshman point guard, is avergaing 4.9 assists per game.

Kelsey Plum leads Country Day in scoring and assists. She is averaging 19.7 points and 4.8 assists. Maya Hood is the team’s leading rebounder at 11.9 per game. She is also second on team in scoring at 18.7 points per game. Four players are averaging double figures in scoring. Kaylah Miller comes in at 12.4 points and Malina Hood is averaing 10.2 points.

LA North & LA South: St. Joseph finds confidence zone against Windward

March, 6, 2010
LONG BEACH -- St. Joseph’s Alyson Beebe scored 11 points and had 16 rebounds in her team’s 54-41 win over Windward in the championship game of the Southern Section girls Division 4A playoffs, but she was afraid to use the word comfortable to describe how her team played.

For St. Joseph of Santa Maria, it was the team’s second championship in a row. For coach Ed Torres, it was his sixth: four with the girls and two with the boys.

“There’s no better feeling to win a CIF championship,” Torres said. “It’s a memory you’ll never forget. I’m so happy for this team. It’s a great feeling.”

St. Joseph opened the game by taking a 21-8 first-quarter lead. Windward closed the gap to six at different points in the game, but St. Joseph always found a way to build its lead back into double digits.

Beebe said she was never comfortable with any of the leads in the game. But the leads did give her and her teammates’ confidence.

“We maintained that lead and played pretty good-darned defense,” Torres said. “I didn’t want to mess up and get in the way. We have a talented team and they played well together.”

Kelsi English and Heather Madrigal each scored 12 points to lead St. Joseph. Analise Riezebos scored five points and had eight rebounds.

Windward’s freshman guard Courtney Jaco led all scorers with 15 points. Teammate Imani Stafford scored nine points and had 17 rebounds.