Bishop Amat’s girls basketball season ends in 52-34 loss to Long Beach Poly

Amat-Long Beach poly photo gallery

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
— Bishop Amat girls basketball coach Richard Wiard knew the Lancers would have a tough time against athletically-gifted Long Beach Poly, a program Wiard said has been the best defensively in Southern California over the past 20 years.
But Long Beach Poly was much more than that during Tuesday’s CIF-State Southern California Division I Regional semifinal, burying nine 3-pointers in rolling to a 52-34 victory over the Lancers.
The ninth-seed Jackrabbits (28-5) will face second-seed Canyon Springs in Saturday’s regional final at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario at 2 p.m.
Canyon Springs advanced with a 70-58 win over Vista Murrieta, and Saturday’s winner will advance to the state championship in Sacramento on March 22.
“Nine 3-pointers?” Jackrabbits coach Carl Buggs said. “That’s news to me. I knew we hit a lot of them and when we’re hitting like that we’re tough to beat.
“But give Bishop Amat a lot of credit, they made us work and it was closer than the score.”
Jackrabbits Junior guard Arica Carter buried four 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 15 points and Kansas State-bound Keyla Morgan finished with 11 points.
Long Beach Poly, which needed an at-large berth to make the state playoffs after losing to Etiwanda in the CIF-SS Division 1A quarterfinals, are just a game away from returning to the state finals for the first time since 2010.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Buggs said. “Ever since we got word that we got in (the state playoffs), it was about taking advantage of it.”
Depth has been an issue for Bishop Amat (25-10) ever since Dagmar Ramirez tore her ACL before the CIF-SS playoffs.
Only four players scored for the Lancers, paced by Mauriana Clayton with 14 points and junior Paulina Santana with 10.
But with the way Long Beach was shooting, there was nothing Wiard could do but tip his cap.
Amat didn’t score a field goal in the fourth quarter, finishing with only four points, all from the foul line.
“They’re very good defensively, we were lucky to score 34 (points), some of our shots were pretty good shots,” Wiard said. “But what are you going to do when they hit nine 3-pointers? I talked to Carl after the game and he said they haven’t shot that well all season.
“With a team that talented and balanced, you have to give up something. We chose to play off them a little bit and crowd the basket. Give them credit, they made shots.”
Amat tried to climb back with a 6-0 run that trimmed the Jackrabbits’ lead to 33-25 with 2:58 left in the third quarter, but Poly’s Briana Johnson answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to go up 14 points.
Amat still wouldn’t go away, Santana completed a 5-0 run with a 3-pointer in the final minute of the quarter, but Morgan finished the quarter with a 3-pointer off the glass as time expired, giving the Jackrabbits a 42-30 lead going to the fourth.
“That was the back-breaker,” Wiard said. “We cut it to eight and had the momentum on our side and then they hit two big three’s and bank one in. That was a microcosm of the game right there.”

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