DUARTE — After ending Duarte’s Montview League win streak at 39 games last Friday night, the Workman High School girls basketball game was out to prove the victory was no joke … and maybe start a prolonged league winning streak of its own.
Mission accomplished on the both ends.
Freshman guard Leslie Rivera score 25 points, including several clutch 3-pointers in the second half, as Workman took another giant step toward the Montview League title with a 74-68 victory over host Duarte on Monday night.
Workman (18-4, 10-0) led 57-47 late in the third quarter, but Duarte (17-2, 7-2) rallied behind standout Imari Brown to forge a 64-63 lead with 2:50 to play. That’s when things got a little too crazy in the stands as a packed house of Lobos and Falcons fans mixed it up enough to the point that the game was delayed a few minutes while sherriff’s deputies calmed things down.
Once the game resumed, Rivera made sure her team wasn’t going to blow its coming-out party. Rivera hit a 3-pointer to make it 66-64. Seconds later, she hit another to make 69-64. Brown got Duarte back to within 69-68 with 50 seconds to play, but Essence Pineda, the only senior in the Lobos’ starting line up hit a 3-pointer for the dagger.
“I just kept playing, I didn’t give up,” Rivera said. “The score’s always 0-0. Those 3s really helped us and I was really happy they were going in.”
Workman won 77-68 on Friday to give itself a one-game lead in the Montview standings heading into Monday’s rematch. The Lobos also ended Duarte’s air of invincibility and now look so set for the future with so many talented youngsters that another long league win streak looks to the in the offing.
Brown, who scored a game-high 39 points, is a senior and without her around, the Montview looks to be Workman’s for the taking for years to come.
“That’s how the ball bounces,” Duarte coach Mark Smith said. “You fight at practice to make your layups and free throws, and the ball didn’t roll our way tonight.
“Imari can have a game like that every single night. That’s a dream player. We have other players beside Imari, who normally all year long have been putting up 17 points a game. We don’t want to call it ‘The Imari Show’, but sometimes the girls get caught looking. I tell the girls to stop looking like they do with Kobe (Bryant). Sometimes they just watch her play and you can’t do that.”
Rivera started the second half by hitting three 3-pointers to help turn a tied game at halftime into decent cushion. Brown wouldn’t let her team falter, though, and scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to eventually get her team a late lead.
Workman spent the first and second quarters building small leads only to see Brown lead her team back and make it a one-possession game either way.
Pineda added 16 points for Workman and freshman post player Alize Williams had 12. Kathy McKiernan had 15 points for Duarte.