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North Girls So Close in CIF title Game

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Lady Huskies rally from 20 down but still come up short, Lynwood 66 North 55

By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –

J.W. North’s girls basketball team returned to the CIF Championships this weekend after a 12 year absence. The Huskies won their only CIF title in 2000.

This year’s return trip was a surprise to everyone but the Huskies. “When I got to North, I asked the girls what they wanted to do, they said we want to go to the championship and I said to them let’s do it then,” said North coach Leonard DeCoud.

For the Huskies, it’s truly about the journey. Coming off a 4-21 season just one short year ago, North’s accomplishments are nothing short of miraculous.

Yes, I know the goal is to win it all but sometimes you win by just getting there.

As the league’s bottom team last season, North leaped to a second place finish in the Big VIII this year and with that earned themselves a number 3 seed in the CIF Playoffs putting them only four wins away from their goal of playing in the CIF Championships.

The Lady Huskies sliced through their playoff bracket beating Yucaipa, Cypress, Thousand Oaks and Ventura outscoring their opponents 280-156 to earn a finals showdown with the Lynwood Lady Knights.

Although North was the number 3 seed and Lynwood the 5 seed, the Lady Knights entered the contest seeking their school’s seventh CIF girls basketball title clearly an advantage in terms of experience.

North struggled with its consistency early but managed to finish the first quarter tied with the Lady Knights at 14-14. The second quarter proved to be a disaster for the Huskies and the eventual difference in the game. North was outscored 18-6 in the second quarter and found themselves trailing 32-20 by halftime.

“We weren’t playing as a team. We just weren’t all awake and we had to keep talking to everybody and trying to pick them up,” said North Point Guard Simone DeCoud.

DeCoud’s wakeup call was answered. As if they were responding to a fire alarm, the Lady Huskies came out in the second half with a furious defensive effort. With its defense leading the way North went on an all out tear cutting the Lady Night’s lead to only two points (53-51) with 3:25 left in the game. With the crowd and the momentum behind them and their opponent reeling, the Lady Huskies seemed poised to take the lead and secure its second title when disaster struck.

With 2:52 left in the game, North’s leading scorer, Pricilla Brooks (18 points) was called for her final foul putting a serious damper on the Huskies run.

With Brooks gone, the Lady Knights regained control of the paint and finished the game at the free throw line.

Lynwood scored 22 points from the free throw line making 22 of 29 while the Huskies were only 6 of 13 from the charity stripe.

Clearly, free throw shooting and a poor second quarter led to the Huskies undoing.

“I think we may have gotten a little complacent after we got on top early,” said North’s Coach Leonard DeCoud. “And late in the game we got a little impatient and we had some rushed shots.”

Irrespective of the loss, North can be proud of the team’s accomplishment to this point. Going into the State playoff with the knowledge that a single quarter of poor play was the only thing between them and a CIF title should help them solve that problem in the future.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

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