Monday, March 25, 2019
Page 806

Ashley Walker holds the Cal Bears together

Last time I saw Cal senior forward Ashley Walker was on the bench this past Sunday, during the final minute of their game with UCLA. As the clock wound down and the Bears were still 12 points behind, Walker’s shoulder shook and a teammate beside her ran her hand across her back to comfort her.

So it’s nice to see this piece in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Walker said she battles through day-to-day drags on her energy, lapses she can’t afford on the court as the Bears’ centerpiece.

“There are definitely times when you’re sick or you’re hurting, or you’ve been up all night studying for a test and you’ve got to go to practice for three hours the next day,” Walker said. “And you might think that you are not going to be able to do it. But not everybody gets to do this. I try to remember that.”


SEC post-season teams announced

While other conferences are still toiling away, the women of the SEC are bracing for the next round – well, those who are going to the next round.

The post-season teams were announced today:

First Team All-SEC

Whitney Boddie, AU
DeWann Bonner, AU
Sha Brooks, UF
Marshae Dotson, UF
Allison Hightower, LSU
Bianca Thomas, UM
Alexis Rack, MSU
Christinia Wirth, VU

Second Team All-SEC

Ceira Ricketts, ARK
Ashley Houts, UG
Angel Robinson, UG
Victoria Dunlap, UK
Eleia Roddy, UK
Angie Bjorklund, UT
Shekinna Stricklen, UT
Merideth Marsh, VU
Jennifer Risper, VU

All-Freshman Team

Ericka Russell, UA
Lyndsay Harris, ARK
Ceira Ricketts, ARK
Trumae Lucas, UF
LaSondra Barrett, LSU
Lakeisha Sutton, SC
Shekinna Stricklen, UT
Glory Johnson, UT

All-Defensive Team

DeWanna Bonner, AU
Allison Hightower, LSU
Chanel Mokango, MSU
Armelie Lumanu, MSU
Jennifer Risper, VU

Coach of the Year

Nell Fortner, AU

Player of the Year

DeWanna Bonner, AU

Freshman of the Year

Ceira Ricketts, ARK
LaSondra Barrett, LSU

Defensive Player of the Year

Jennifer Risper, VU

6th Woman of the Year

Charity Ford, ARK

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Christina Wirth, VU

Congrats, ladies!


Tierra Henderson dismissed from UCLA team

The Sunday suspension of senior guard Tierra Henderson has resulted in her being kicked off the Bruin team. UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell talked to the Daily Bruin about it today:

“Tierra’s dismissal is the result of multiple infractions of team rules, and all violations of team rules have been dealt with fairly and evenly throughout the season,” she said.

Caldwell said Henderson had committed multiple infractions.

“It’s not an isolated incident,” she said. “(Sunday’s suspension is) definitely an incident that is one of others.”


That had to be a difficult thing for Caldwell to do, and I admire her for doing it. She is setting a tone for the program, which includes what expectations must be met. This dismissal shows she’s not willing to compromise those expectations for anyone or anything.

Survey says…….

In response to my post Sunday evening about Hoopgurlz, a reader responded:

I totally agree with you guys – I stated going elsewhere also as they cannot stand it if you point out something they didn’t see – i also noticed that they promote the same kids over and over again and some of the parents of these kids sit around trashing others so that hoopgurlz won’t write about them.I actualy overheard a conversation with 1 of their top promoted players family members dissing on another kid to Hanson. Thanks to people like you who allow opinions and say it like it is.

In the meantime yesterday, someone posted about hoopgurlz on the website. The person asked if anyone had a bad experience on hoopgurlz, and cited this blog. He or she said they were kicked off hoopgurlz last year when they disagreed with Glenn. The first respondent to that said:

“if u do that then u silence your own board. Thus its not really a discussion forum but just another place to post commentary from their writers.”

The original poster said: “You are so right. And if you’ll notice, there are very few posters on”

Then another respondent made this post: “Guys are tresspassers in girls hoops. If you’re an adult male who covers the beat, you’ve got to have a pretty thick skin and an understanding of the various social, sexual, racial politics. Most guys can handle it but unfortunately, many with high profile gigs can’t. Do you remember that wussy piece Glenn did a while back for Hoopgurlz where he said that girls basketball had lost its innocence because a couple of tough old ladies were mean to him at a tourney. That was the stuff of comedy. People like Nelson and Kallam have very thin skins and it shows in their writing and opinions. Almost as if they feel they’re not good enough to write for the guys, so they have to write about the girls. Not all guys who cover the beat are like this, but some do write and edit with an almost Napoleon complex which doesn’t serve their subject well.

It is what it is.”

In the meantime, I had already begun my re-boycott of hoopgurlz, but a friend convinced me to go back and check the site. Glenn posted a sticky at the top of the main basketball page yesterday, and said: “I apologize to Scribe for pulling the link posted to another story. That story, plus a blog post elsewhere, included inaccuracies and, more critically, unsubstantiated innuendo that are irresponsible and possibly libelous, and we cannot facilitate anything like that. Moreover, I strongly believe this is not a story that needs to be “sourced,” since the principles are there to be asked yes or no.”


Again, I question Glenn Nelson’s knowledge of journalism. If you quote or reference a person, article or any source, all “libel” issues would be solely upon the owner of the site and/or the person who made the libelous statement(s). Hoopgurlz would never be in danger of being found libel because an article was linked on their site. Nor does allowing a site to be linked mean hoopgurlz supports the content therein.

Nelson is full of it. Back to my hoopgurlz boycott.

In the meantime, here’s a statement from the only one who matters in this story:

Southern Section playoffs in full effect

Division 1-AA:

Defending state champions Long Beach Poly will face Layshia Clarendon-lead Cajon at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

Division 1-A:

Colony vs. Canyon Springs, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Mater Dei High School.

Division II-AA:

Brea Olinda vs. Edison, 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Mater Dei High School.

Division II-A:

Mater Dei vs. Beverly Hills, 8:30 p.m. Friday at Colony High School.

Division III-AA:

Woodbridge vs. Marlborough, 6:30 p.m. Friday at Mater Dei High School.

Division III-A:

Foothill vs. Inglewood, 6:30 Thursday at Mater Dei High School.

Division IV-AA:

Orange Lutheran vs. Notre Dame, 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Mater Dei High School.

Division IV-A:

Harvard-Westlake vs. Pacific Hills, 4:30 p.m. Friday at Mater Dei High School.

Four other games:


Apparently all the great women wear orange

Pat Summitt and her staff made quite a splash yesterday by donning all-orange clothing for the last regular season game against Vanderbilt.

To the south, at a non-orange school, Teresa Weatherspoon is also wearing the orange (see photo in story, linked below). Since Spoon took over the Louisiana Tech program, the team has gone 5-0. For those of us who always had a feeling she’d eventually go into coaching, the question is, what took her so long?


Hoopgurlz can’t take it

Six years ago, before hoopgurlz was ESPNhoopgurlz, owner Glenn Nelson pissed me off when he censored me. I posted on the hoopgurlz message board something about a Seattle-area club team, and Glenn disagreed with me. I maintained my stance and his next step was to remove my posts. I private-messaged him asking him why, and he gave me some excuse about preserving the integrity of the board and how it was wrong to say what I said. Yet, I had said nothing defamatory or libelous; it was just my opinion, and that’s the whole point of message boards. So I quit reading hoopgurlz because it was clear he didn’t want anyone disagreeing with him, and I don’t deal with people like that.

Sometime before last year, when I again began checking their boards occasionally, they got bought out by ESPN. But it looks like they’re still up to the same old, same old.

About an hour ago, someone I know posted the story about Griner not being at the All-American game on the message board. Ten minutes later, the post disappeared. The poster started another thread asking why the Griner thread was taken down. So far, no response.

I’m sure Glenn Nelson is upset that his site wasn’t the first to break the story. But taking down the information off his site as if the story hadn’t been written is cowardly, to say the least. How can anyone call themselves a journalist when they don’t abide by the most basic tenants of journalism: freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It also makes me wonder what else they edit, in or out. If they want the information on hoopgurlz that tightly-controlled, can they be trusted?


I’m going to go back to boycotting that board.

Griner will be a no-show at McDonald’s All-American game?


With all due respect to Griner, anyone who would pass up a chance to play in this prestigious game should have their head examined.

UCLA 71, Cal 56

“Coach told us we needed an extra spark. I was in the zone and we got it done.” – Erica Tukiainen

At one point in the final minute, my friend and seatmate Daniel said, “this is surreal.” It sure was. Still can’t quite believe it happened, or how it did.

Of course, Bruin guard Darxia Morris was on fire. She looked like she’d just eaten two boxes of Wheaties before the game, the way she was soaring around the court.

Christina Nzekwe was so on point. Coach Nikki Caldwell said the forward was outsized by Cal but was the Bruins’ anchor today, and she is correct. Nzekwe didn’t back down once.

Then there was Tukiainen, who couldn’t miss. I’m really proud of her for getting her career high.

It also was the tenacious Bruin defense. They just played straight up Lady Vol defense on Cal, and it was a beautiful thing.

Daniel said that down the stretch, it was Cal’s inability to convert that probably made the differnce in the game. To be honest, I didn’t have my full analysis cap on today; I’m a little over-basketballed this time of year.

As usual, those of us in the arena knew less than people watching the game on TV. Daniel and I were surprised to see Alexis Gray-Lawson come out on crutches after halftime, and we didn’t know why she was. Turns out it was a “knee sprain,” at least for now. I am praying to the high heavens that it’s not an ACL tear.

Gray-Lawson was very upset at first. She was crying as she went to take her seat at the end of the bench, and one of the assistants sat there and talked to her for a minute (photo below). As the game waned and it was clear Cal was going to lose, Gray-Lawson became upset again. I had my foot in the aisle to go down and give her a tissue and a shoulder pat. I felt so bad for her.

Another thing TV viewers found out was that Bruins Moniquee Alexander and Tierra Henderson were suspended for the game. What the heck is that about? Caldwell has suspended Henderson and Morris before this season. She doesn’t play around.

Two Bears reached their own milestones today, and I congratulate them. Wish I’d have known about it or we would have applauded:

Ashley Walker led Cal with 17 points and 11 rebounds and scored her 2,000th career point when she made a layup with 18:17 remaining in the second half. Walker became the second player in Cal history and the 11th in Pac-10 history to do so.

Devanei Hampton, who finished with 11, reached her own milestone when she scored on a jumper at 7:40 to post her 1,500th career point. Both Hampton and Walker declined to speak with the media following the loss.


Bottom line is it was a great victory for UCLA, but Daniel and I both felt badly for Cal. The Bruins really needed an upset, but it would have been much more fun for ASU or Stanford to go down. Cal is cool.

Alexis Gray-Lawson is comforted by a Cal assistant just before the second half.

Cal Bears at a timeout.

Nikki Caldwell got her hair straightened. She could make a potato sack look good.

Alexis Gray-Lawson sits alone on the end of the bench, upset.

Gray-Lawson watches the last minute of the game.

Bruin alumni Lisa Willis (tan pants) talks to Assistant Coach Stacie Terry. Right afterwards, she literally ran into the locker room.

Cajon High School standout and Cal commit Layshia Clarendon chills out at halftime.

Canyon Springs, 50, Santa Monica 48

Canyon Springs held on to win an intense battle for a state playoff berth by defeating highly-touted Santa Monica in a packed gym last night.

Both teams entered the game at 23-6, but it seemed like the heavy Santa Monica crowd was underestimating the Cougars from Moreno Valley, near Riverside.

SM dominated the first quarter with a few tools: excellent ball movement and some great outside shots. They were having trouble finishing on the inside, but their visible tenacity helped them to find other ways to score.

Canyon’s sophomore guard Tear’a Laudermill had the play of the first quarter when, right at the end, she had the ball and was dribbling up the sideline and tripped. She was suddenly on her knees walking and dribbling. Finally she turned and threw the ball backwards to a teammate. There was an audible “oooo” from the crowd. The score was 13-6 SM at the end of the first.

Laudermill got off two quick shots at the beginning of the second to put her team back in it. For the next several minutes, the two teams matched each other for made and missed baskets, and SM remained ahead by two. But right at the end of the period Laudermill hit a big jumper, knotting the two teams 19-19 at the break.

SM came on strong in the third quarter. Junior guard Thea Lemberger – a passionate player who lead her team on the floor – scored a big bucket to put SM ahead 23-19. Then it became the battle of the missed free throws. Both teams were called for fouls, and each squad’s free throw shooters missed both. Tre’shonti Nottingham finally broke it open for Canyon when she stole the ball and went coast to coast with it, and then on the next play hit a jumper to tie the game at 27.

The Cougars went on a run and were up by as much as 31-27 with 1:11 to go. But then ensued the type of hard-hitting play that makes those who know the game say that girls play harder than boys. There were wild ball chases, bodies hitting the floor and desperate passes to teammates from a half-laying position. SM hit one of two free throws at the end to cut Canyon’s lead to 31-30.

Canyon went on a run to start the fourth quarter, making a couple of key steals that each ended up in the hands of junior forward Amber Smith, who put them in. The Cougar crowd was going nuts as SM called a timeout at 4:25, the score 39-34 Canyon.

Then Lemberger hit a couple shots, including a three, which pulled her team even with their opponents. The next several minutes were back-and-forth, one team scoring and the other answering. Both teams continued to miss free throws, which is obviously the weakness of each of these quality squads, and it’s what proved to be the difference down the stretch.

A key Canyon shot put them up 46-43 with 1:18 to go, and Smith’s bit shot at 40 seconds go to padded that lead to 48-43. But SM answered, and thus began the battle of the called fouls and missed free throws. Foul: Canyon missed both shots, and a few seconds later SM missed one of two shots. 48-46 Canyon at 15.3 seconds. Foul: Canyon missed one FT shot. Foul: Lemberger then made both her shots, 49-48 Cougars at 9.4 seconds. Foul: Canyon then made one of two FT shots.

SM turned the ball over on the inbounds pass with 2.8 seconds to go, as Canyon lead 49-48. So they fouled the Cougars, and the player made one of two free throws. But SM didn’t have enough time to inbound the ball and get off a shot, and Lemberger was left with the ball in her hands as the buzzer sounded and the final score glared off the scoreboard.

Lemberger, who had been on the floor, stayed there for a moment as Cougar fans exploded, and when she got up she was crying. SM’s Coach Verdugo walked across the court, folded her up in his arms and guided her to the team huddle.

The lighting in the gym was really horrible, so all my pictures are a bit blurry, but you get the idea from this:

Lemberger and point guard Kristina Johnson were the most impressive players for their team.

On Canyon’s side, Laudermill and sophomore center Sophia Ederaine were the standouts. Ederaine began the game with two big-time blocks, and she proved to be quite a force for her team throughout the contest. Again, the pics were all blurry, but I tried to get a good shot of her because she is one to watch out for if she’s this good as a tenth-grader.

Other shots…….during the game, and SM coaches gather the tearful team at mid-court after the game for one last hands-together.

Across town, my partner-in-crime Monique took in the Inglewood-Muir game, and it proved to be a butt-clencher like the game I was at. The greatest point differential was 12-5 in the first quarter, and after that it was neck-and-neck. Inglewood pulled it out, barely.

Other Southern Section scores from last night:

Long Beach Poly 46, Troy 34
Cajon 66 Perris 32

Brea Olinda 79, Thousand Oaks 43
Edison 45, Mira Costa 37

Mater Dei 74, Villa Park 24
Beverly Hills 73 Summit 67

(MD’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 points)

Marlborough 61, Santa Margarita 44
Woodbridge 56 Diamond Ranch 37

Division IIIA
Foothill 78 Monrovia 69
Inglewood 59 Muir 58

Division IVAA
Orange Lutheran 67 Rosary 37
Notre Dame 55 Bishop Montgomery 53

Pacific Hills 64, JSerra 36
Harvard-Westlake 63 Winddward 50

Santa Maria St. Joseph 39, Cerritos Valley Christian 19

Bell-Jeff 68, Chadwick 42

This is the time of the tourney where it gets good, and the games are closer. But it’s also the rain season. This is the time of year where sometimes, strong girls in basketball uniforms will have tears in their eyes after games, their faces crumpled and flushed.

To all those strong girls in basketball uniforms, keep your heads up.

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