Live from Arco: CIF Div. I girls hoops state championship

QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN UPDATE: Ben Enos here, hijacking the blog from Chace because I can. The Queen of the Mountain championship was postponed due to rain. The final, between Foothill and Granada, will be played Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Willow Pass Park. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. 

I am stepping away to help with some postgame coverage. But I’ll be back to do it all again for the Division I boys game between McClymonds (31-0) and Dominguez-Compton (32-2).  

7:42: Sorry about that. We lost connection for a second. You didn’t miss much. A few free throws and that’s all. FINAL SCORE: Long Beach Poly 55, Berkeley 31.  

The win for Poly gives the Jackrabbits their third straight state title and avoids a NorCal sweep in the girls games. Berkeley’s 31 points is the second-lowest scoring output by one team in the modern history of the Girls Division I championship (Since 1981). The lowest was 30 points by Los Gatos in 1984.

7:37: Perkins gets a layin after Rosen picks up a steal at half court and finds her teammate standing alone under the basket. It’s 52-30 and Poly calls T.O. with 1:11 to go.  

7:34: Both teams take turns missing free throws and with 2:09 left, Poly has begun to empty its bench.   

7:30: Dixon at the line again. Sinks both. Rosen drops down a 7-footer. After empty trips for both teams, Poly gets a layup in transition and a TV T.O. stops action with the score 52-28 with 2:56 to go 

7:28: Dixon misses a free throw and then (SHOCK!) gets her own rebound and scores. Rosen answers with a basket of her own on the offensive glass. It’s 48-26 Poly with 4:00 to play. 

7:24: After a Poly timeout, the Jackrabbits pounded it inside and Thaddesia Southall was fouled on like her third offensive rebound of the possession. She sank both free throws for a 46-23 game. Rosen just dove to the deck for a loose ball and then found Culbertson cutting to the basket. Culbertson was fouled and got one free throw. Rosen is clearly playing the best floor game for Berkeley tonight.  

7:20: Warren gets the first points of the fourth quarter, converting one of two free throws. Dixon goes to the line for Poly and pushes the lead to 44-23 with a free throw of her own. 6:44 to go in the game. 

Quarter thoughts: Well if Berkeley was going to make a serious push, that was the quarter to do it. They vastly improved their defense (especially their rebounding), but scoring continues to be an issue. The Jackets managed just five points over the eight minute quarter. It’s looking like a Poly Three-peat. 

7:16: Poly tries to pick up the pace and gets a layup in transition. Berkeley then turns it over on the inbounds pass and Cook sinks a jumper. So after all that, the Jackrabbits still manage to outscore Berkeley in the quarter and lead 43-22 at the end of three. 

7:14: Perkins and Culbertson work the ol’ pick and roll to perfection. Culbertson gets fouled and makes one of two (36-22). Dixon gets the first FG of the half of Poly and makes it a 3-point play for a 39-22 lead with 1:00 to go in the quarter. 

7:12: Poly finally gets its first  points of the half at the 2:02 mark as Dixon made one of two foul shots for a 36-21 lead.  

7:10: Perkins finally gets a decent look, hitting on a turnaround jumper on the block. Poly tries to pound it inside to Oliver but she misses her first shot and is blocked on an attempted putback. Its 35-21 with 2:37 to play in the quarter. 

7:07: Perkins is just having no luck getting an open look against the defense of Cook. She’s 0-for-2 in the half and now 1-for-7 for the game. We’re going to a TV T.O. with the score still 35-19 and 3:34 to go in the quarter. 

7:03 : Rosen, who is clearly being the most aggressive Berkeley player on the offensive end, was fouled on the way to the hoop. She missed the layin but hit both foul shots and its 35-19 with 5:00 to go in the quarter.  

7:01 p.m.: Poly missed its first shot of the half, and Berkeley misfired on each of its first three possessions. Though the Yellow Jackets defense has forced two turnovers already, so that’s a good sign for Berkeley. 

More musings: As I look at the Poly roster I see that there are just four seniors. Yikes! Cook is just a sophomore. Double Yikes! We’re roughly two minutes from the start of the second half. Hang tight. 

Halftime: Well, it would be easy to say that Poly outplayed Berkeley in the first half, but I don’t really think that was the case. It was clear that the Yellow Jackets were their own worst enemy in that half. The stat sheet says 17 turnovers, and it probably could have been more. Just as bad is the number of second-chance points the Jackrabbits converted. Poly had 12 offensive rebounds in the half, and scored baskets on at least six of them. Certainly the Jackrabbits deserve some credit, but Berkeley can hang with them if they cut down all the mental mistakes and stay out of foul trouble (the foul differential was 9-3 in the first half).

Here’s some individual stats:

Rosen leads Berkeley with 8 points and has 2 rebounds. Cook has 10 points and SIX steals. Daaaang.

6:43: Another turnover and layin by Cook gives us a halftime score of 35-17. I’m taking a quick break and will be back with haltime thoughts and a few stats. 

6:41: Hamasaki hits both free throws (28-15), and on the other end, Warren gets whistled for HER third foul (after failing to secure the defensive rebound, we may add). Poly got one of two free throws for a 29-15 advantage. Berkeley is now strictly in a 2-3 zone, likely to improve their defensive rebounding and limit their fouls. Cook scores on an offensive putback and it’s 31-15. Rosen gets a backdoor layup (31-17) and Poly answers. It’s now 33-17 with under a minute to play. 

6:38: Warren scores out of the timeout to make it 28-13. Berkeley then holds Poly to one shot and starts a break, but Tiffany Hamasaki couldn’t convert the layup. The Jackets got a rebound, but then promptly turned it over with a traveling violation. Hamasaki is now going to the free throw line with 2:40 to go in the half. 

6:35: The TV T.O. could not have come fast enough for Berkeley and coach Cheryl Draper could be heard from the team huddle telling the team “It’s not over.” However, it’s hard to say things aren’t looking bleak. The Yellow Jackets have no match for the size of Poly, and without Perkins on the floor, they are going to need somebody to step and score. Being within 10 points by halftime would be a victory at this point.  

6:33: Two possessions by Berkeley end in a blocked shot and a charge. Poly nets another basket on the offensive glass and it’s 24-11. And things just get worse for Berkeley has Perkins is forced to the bench with her 3rd foul. Another second-chance basket for Poly and a fastbreak layup, and now it’s 28-11 Jackrabbits with 4:05 to go. 

6:29: Once again, both teams start the quarter with turnovers. The matchup of Cook and Perkins is looking like it could be a good one all night. Cook seems to really have Jazmine frustrated with her defense.

A fastbreak layin off a turnover and now a 3-pointer by Crook-Williams pushed the Poly lead to 19-9 before Taylor Wallace scored for Berkeley. It was 19-11 and then Kelli Thompson hit a 3-pointer in the corner for Poly. It’s now 22-11 Jackrabbits and Berkeley has called timeout (after yet another turnover).  5:56 to go in the half.

Quarter thoughts: Berkeley certainly did not have its best quarter, but Poly didn’t either. To stay close in the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets need to be better on the defensive glass,  limit their turnovers (I counted five), and continue to keep the Jackrabbits from running the floor.  

6:23: Dixon scores inside to give Poly its first lead of the game, 10-8. Perkins then hit one of two free throws to close the gap to one. However, Poly keeps trying to push the action and though Cook missed the layin on the fast break, Ariya Cook-Williams scored on a putback. Another offensive putback by Poly makes it 14-9 as we reach the end of the first quarter. 

6:20: Rosen scores her third basket of the quarter on a great cut down the middle of the line. Warren hit her with a nice bounce pass and Rosen kissed it off the glass for an 8-6 lead. Both teams traded turnovers again, and then a third turnover became points for Poly as Cook picked Perkins’ pocket and went coast-to-coast for two.  2:00 left in the quarter. 

6:17 : Oliver goes to the line when she fouled attempting a putback on the offensive glass. This time she goes 2-for-2, and we’re tied again at 6-6. We have our first TV T.O. of the game at the 3:45 mark in the 1st. So far, this is a pace that is definitely going to favor Berkeley. The Jackets do need to be concerned about foul trouble though. They have already been whistled for 3, while Poly has none. 

6:14: Perkins gets on the board with an athletic move and a leaning 8-footer that’s all net. The shot put the Yellow Jackets up 6-4, and that’s where it stays after Oliver missed two free throws for Poly. 4:34 on the clock. 

6 :12: Both teams share turnovers, but Berkeley scores off the one that they force as Rosen hits as 12-footer. Poly tied the game at 4 with a fast break layup by Dixon. The score is still tied with 5:30 to play in the 1st.

6:10: Berkeley won the tip and immediately scored on a layin by Rosen off an assist from Perkins. Poly answered with a smooth 15 foot jumper by Cook.  

6:07: So here’s what you need to know about these teams — they are very familiar with one another. It’s only the third straight year the two are meeting in the state championship game. Poly won by 20 the first year (54-34) and by just six last year (58-52).  The lineups have been announced and the teams have just finished their final chant in their final pregame huddles of the season. It’s 32 minutes to glory. Tip-off comes next.

 6:00 p.m.: Well the warm-ups have concluded and the national anthem just finished. They are now announcing the starting lineups — and here they are:

Berkeley: Camila Rosen, Chariese Culbertson, Jazmine Perkins, Airika Warren and Tiffany Hamasaki.

Long Beach Poly: April Cook, Brittany Wilson, Ashley Wilson, Jasmine Dixon and Monique Oliver.

-Well, we now have eight new state champions and we have two left to crown. And now that I’ve managed to survive my 1.5 hour drive on I-80 through apocolyptic-global warming-type weather (seriously, there was even hail), I’m ready to bring you live accounts of both of the Division I championship games.

We will start with the Division I girls game, a showdown between Long Beach Poly (29-2) and Berkeley (30-3). The game is about 15 minutes from tip-off. I’ll be posting updates and insight at the top of the page as quickly as I can possibly type, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and keep clicking that “refresh” button.

I’m going to go secure the starting lineups for this thing, and I’ll be back shortly.