Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Page 848

Inglewood Sentinels 54, Mira Costa Mustangs 43

The Inglewood Sentinels haven’t had many game challenges lately, as their schedule the last several weeks has been mostly blowouts. But they got one last night in the Mira Costa Mustangs, who kept it close until only the last four minutes of the game on Inglewood’s home floor.

The Sentinels got off to a fast start in the first, on the strength of the scoring of Oregon State University signee Tayler Champion and Renee Golliday. But Mira Costa battled back behind their star players Jasmine Rutledge and Amanda Johnson. The Sentinels lead 22-18 at the end of the period.

Playing a 1-3-1 defense, the Mustangs clamped down in the second quarter, and Inglewood began turning over the ball. Rutledge again lead the scoring attack, and her team was up 27-26 at the 3:42 mark. But when Mira Costa changed to a loose 2-3 zone, Inglewood seemed to suddenly realize they could attack the basket, and they did, drawing a foul. The half ended with the Sentinels up 31-30.

The home team began to pull away in the third, but with just over three minutes left, the Mustangs fought back. A long three by Johnson cut Inglewood’s lead to 39-35, and Rutledge’s crazy-good shot cut it even further, ending the period 39-37.

In the fourth quarter, the Sentinels put their foot on the gas pedal and took control. They had built an eight-point lead by 3:22, when Hazel Ramirez threw up a wild shot which went in as she was fouled. On the other end, Rutledge’s shot was blocked, but incredibly, she caught the deflected ball. Yet her second attempt didn’t go in and the ball went into Sentinel hands, enabling them to continue their attack. The score was 54-40 with 1:24 left, and only Kylie Nakamine scored – a three – for the Mustangs before time expired.

Mira Costa has excellent ball movement. Team members always seem to know where the others will be when they’re running a play or just winging it. Inglewood’s strength is in their athleticism, which is likely why they played man defense all night.

Rutledge finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Johnson put up 14. As of right now, Inglewood coaches have not yet put up game stats for their team on maxpreps.

This game was interesting in an “it’s a small basketball world” kind of way, too.

For one, Inglewood reserve guard Brionne Brister is Sparks center Lisa Leslie’s niece, and Leslie comes to most games, fans said. (She wasn’t there last night because she is reportedly attending the NBA All-Star game this weekend). Leslie’s younger sister also attends Inglewood games, and was sitting behind the bench last night.

Three USC players walked into the game during the second quarter and took seats in the bleachers. I recognized Hailey Dunham, and I think the second one was Aarika Hughes. I couldn’t get a good glimpse at the third player. But after the game, Rutledge – a junior – ran across the court to say hi to the Trojan players, and all four stood there for a moment, laughing and talking.

USC Coach Mark Trakh’s detractors aside, he does seem to have a knack for recruiting.

Sentinel fans said Coach Tony Scott disappeared from the bench for a while after the forfeits were announced in January. He is back now, in an assistant coach role. But he is still pretty much the only coach standing and yelling directions at the team during play, though his seat is on the end of the bench. So perhaps the assistant coach job is in name only.

Here’s the Inglewood bench last night: Scott is standing, at the right. Leslie’s niece is the second player in on the left. Leslie’s sister is wearing the red shirt behind the bench.

WBCA All-American team named

In my enamoration (is that a word?) of Dawn Staley’s forage into intramurals last night, I forgot to add the WBCA’s selections for All-American team:

Kelsey Bone
Mariah Chandler
Layshia Clarendon
Skylar Diggins
Nikki Green
Brittney Griner
Krista Gross
Jasmine Hassell
Tayler Hill
Stephanie Holzer
Monique Oliver
Sam Ostarello
Cokie Reed
Waltia Rolle
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt
Taber Spani
DeNesha Stallworth
Joslyn Tinkle
Markel Walker
Destiny Williams

No surprises on that list, but check out the second (honorable mention) list – that is another team of ridiculously good players:

I’m excited to see so many good ballers coming up.

The All-American game will be Saturday, April 4 in St. Louis, MO – the site of this year’s Final Four.

Dawn Staley, Carla McGhee try intramurals to ease the tension

Dawn Staley didn’t let bad knees get her down during her playing career, and she’s not letting a disappointing first season as South Carolina’s head coach get to her either. She and assistant coach Carla McGhee have joined an intramural team which played its first game Monday night. Of course, Staley still has some of the old razzle-dazzle left. And she is still in charge:

McGhee, who played with Staley on the 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta, said Staley remains the consummate floor general, even in an intramural game.

“She’s going to handle the show,” said McGhee, who had a 13-year pro career. “It’s fun until you mess up one of her passes because you missed the layup. You’re cut off.”

Midway through the first half, nearly all of USC’s players had filed into the gym to see if their coaches could still play. They howled when Staley was short on a free throw, and they had their camera phones ready when she came to the sideline during a timeout.

“Paparazzi, get them out of here!” Staley shouted.

WBCA names Brittney Griner high school player of the year

No surprise, but the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association has named Brittney Griner the State Farm/WBCA High School Player of the year.

Griner is currently ranked No.1 in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz and many other publications. She holds the national record for most blocks in a single game with 25. 6-foot-8-inch center, who has been on the cover of ESPN Rise Magazine, is often seen firing up the crowd with one of her signature dunks as she averages two dunks a game. This season Griner is averaging a team best 27 points, 13 rebounds and 11 blocks and has led her team to a 24-1 ledger.


I can’t wait to see her play in college.

UCLA 58, Arizona 39

The UCLA bench. Rutgers transfer Jasmine Dixon, third from left, smiles a lot during games.

Coach Niya Butts calls out instructions to her Arizona team.
Coach Butts greeted all four UCLA coaches with hugs before the game.
Tennessee vs. Tennessee: Coaches Caldwell and Butts.
I thought I’d do a bit of a pictorial story-teller on last night’s game, rather than the standard game report.
The box score says it all – the only thing poppin’ for the Wildcats last night was Ify Ibekwe and her double-double. I talked to Coach Niya Butts for a moment after the game, and I thought she was being too hard on herself when she said they were “terrible,” but then I saw they only shot 11.5 in the second half. Yikes! I haven’t seen a shooting percentage that low.
Arizona really did look better and more improved. They have better ball movement and run a pretty good defense. But when they get to the rack or try to make a shot, things fall apart. As one of my section mates (also a section mate at Sparks games) said, “things look pretty good until they take a shot.”
For UCLA’s part, Coach Nikki Caldwell seemed pleased during the post-game interview. She acknowledged Erica Tukiainen’s career-high 21 points, and gave credit to freshman Antonye Nyngifa, who has started the last several games and has produced points each time. However, Caldwell said the team “has to get more people involved” in the offensive production.
Consistency seems to be a problem for the Bruins. Doreena Campbell was her usual scoring self, but coming up with a big blank slate was center Moniquee Alexander. Chinyere Ibekwe, Ify’s sister, scored only four points.
Bad news for the Bruins:
Darxia Morris has been suspended indefinitely from the team for violating team rules. Also, Candice Brown’s knee injury has rendered her out for the season.
Other notes:
– There were lots of friends and family in the audience for Los Angeles natives the Ibekwes, and for Arizona guard Reiko Thomas. Former Bruin Noelle Quinn’s young nieces, who frequently attend games, were “guest coaches” on the UCLA bench – and they were pretty happy about it. The girls are also friends with the Ibekwe family.
– That tradition Caldwell instituted where the incoming player brings the player she’s replacing a towel? Arizona does it too. It’s a Tennessee thang, baby.
Next up for the Bruins is ASU tomorrow. It’s also the breast cancer awareness game, so players will be wearing pink. I will have to wear sunglasses.

Inglewood High School having a good season despite forfeits

The Inglewood High School girl’s basketball team had to forfeit their first 14 games of the season last month, after two players were found to be ineligible for participation.

Both Inglewood Assistant Principal Randolph Simpson and CIF Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons confirmed the ineligible players and forfeits, but both declined further comment on the matter.

The Torrance-based Daily Breeze reported in January that the forfeitures resulted from the participation of Deajeana Scurry and Bailey Barbour, both of whom transferred to Inglewood before the season.

Scurry, who played for Washington Prep High School last year as a freshman, was on Inglewood Coach Tony Scott’s club team, the Cal Sparks, last summer. The Breeze reported that Inglewood then looked at the transfers of two other players: Barbour and Makeda Beadle from Leuzinger High School.

Beadle was cleared, and Barbour was suspended until her residency was established by her parent’s divorce papers, according to the Breeze. On Inglewood’s team roster, Barbour is still listed. Scurry has been playing for Inglewood’s JV team since being ruled ineligible for varsity.

Of the 14 games the varsity team forfeited, nine were wins. Since the forfeits, Inglewood has lost only once, Feb. 4, to Santa Monica. The Sentinels have consistently been ranked in the top 10 in California. If not for the forfeits, the team’s record would be 25-2.

Inglewood will play their last regular-season home game tonight at 6 p.m., against Mira Costa. I will be in the house.

Candace Parker on Pat Summitt

I THINK PAT is omniscient. Anytime one of us thought we got away with something—on the court or in everyday life—we’d end up getting summoned to her office, where she’d cross her arms, shake her head and stare straight through us with those crystal-blue eyes.


Tennessee club team mega-merger

The two biggest club teams in the Tennessee region have merged, prompting some to call it a “stranglehold” on club basketball in the region.

Tennessee Mega-Merger

Tennessee Flight in Washington D.C. By Kenny Kallina
National Director of Scouting
Posted Feb 10, 2009

The 2008 Nike National Champion Tennessee Flight and Tennessee Team Pride have merged to put a strangle hold on the club basketball scene in Tennessee. The Flight who have been existence in one form or another for the past twenty years have been led by the Insell family which is synonymous with basketball in the Volunteer state.

The Flight are currently led by Tom Insell the son of high school coaching legend Rick Insell who is currently the head coach at Middle Tennessee State University. Since being hired at Middle Tennessee State, Insell has won two Sun Belt Championships in three seasons and placed two players in the WNBA.

After Rick Insell took the Middle Tennessee State job the Flight (formerly known as Shelbyville Sports Shop) were then taken over by Matt Insell who spent one season as the Director of Basketball Operations at Louisiana Tech before landing as an assistant at the University of Kentucky. Once Matt and Rick were at the college level, the current director of the Flight, Tom, son of Rick and brother of Matt, took over.

While the Flight had dominated club basketball in the South for decades under Rick and Matt Insell, one championship had always evaded them until 2008, the Nike National Championship. “Winning Nike Nationals was our goal the entire season and we were proud to achieve it for the state of Tennessee and for Nike,” said Tom Insell. “Even though my brother and father were not on the bench at Nike Nationals, we all won it for them and the time and effort they put in over there years to create the Flight program.”

According to a joint press release, the Flight and Pride have had over 30 athletes sign grant-in-aid scholarships in the class of 2009. This season the Flight and Pride plan to host the Showtime Shootout, Southeast Challenge, and the Battle in the Boro.

Tennessee Team Pride has been ranked in the top 10 AAU Clubs since 2004 and has won two AAU National Titles in the last three years. Some of the alumni from the programs include Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee State); Jasmine Hassell (Georgia); Glory Johnson (Tennessee); Jasmine James (Georgia); and Faith Dupree (Tennessee).

“We really wanted to work together and unify the state on the club basketball scene in the best interest of all parties” said Insell. While this merger does not come out of necessity, like the merger in New York this past week, it may not have a significant impact on this club basketball season at the highest levels but will significantly affect the future of club basketball in several ways.

Tennessee Team Pride the past few years has had some of the top young teams in the country and their development along with the Flight’s connections around the South will be a big time partnership to create dominant teams in the future. Secondly, it is a big win for Nike who had missed out on players like Glory Johnson because of the Pride’s original affiliation with Adidas and Mike White.

For Adidas and White this hurts because it is one fewer team regionally they will get at their exposure events. With these two teams working together it leaves teams like Memphis Elite and the Memphis Bobcats on an island of their own now.

The Flight returns national elite 2010 players Valencia McFarland of Mississippi who has already committed to Ole Miss and LaQuinta Jefferson of LaVergne, Tennessee. Along with Jefferson and McFarland the Flight are on the market coast to coast for some of the top talent in the country and it would not be surprising to anyone if they take the Nike National Crown again.

“Playing with the Flight changed my recruiting 100%; it was a great experience playing for Coach Insell and I enjoyed playing with the players on the Flight” said former Flight player Ashley Jones who left the Nike Orlando Comets Red last spring to join the Flight. Jones will be attending Mississippi State University on a full scholarship next year; “It is tough to compare any program in the country to the Flight because of their history and the things they can do for their players.”

Obviously Tennessee Team Pride will begin to reap those benefits this travel season and this merger will sustain both programs for some time to come. Tom Insell summed it up pretty well: “I have always respected and admired the program Team Pride has run. I am very excited to stop competing with them and start working with them this summer.”


Selection, location, S-curves…..good lord

Soon the NCAA committee will begin its selection process for the March tournament. Charlie Creme, writing for ESPN, was one media member invited to partake in a mock selection process recently.

Perhaps most controversial for fans is where certain teams play their games. For instance, why would a Florida team not play in the Tampa Bay regional and be sent to Oklahoma City instead? Creme provides a good explanation:

Location, location, location

This was probably the greatest area of clarification for someone who has put together his fair share of brackets, the subject from which most of my questions on Selection Monday are derived.

Once the S-curve is established, teams are placed in the bracket, starting at the top. But are teams placed according to S-curve ranking (i.e., the No. 1 overall in the same regional as the No. 8 overall, No. 2 with No. 7, and so on) or are they placed based on their geographical proximity to that particular regional? Because the committee doesn’t release its S-curve, that was sometimes difficult to tell. Well, now we have the answer: geography.

The teams are taken in order of their S-curve standing and are then placed in the nearest regional. For instance, say Louisville is No. 5 on the S-curve. With all four regionals still open for 2-seeds, the Cardinals would go to Raleigh, N.C., because it’s closest. It would not necessarily matter whether that’s where the No. 4 overall team was also placed.

The only exception to this in 2009 is that California, regardless of where the Bears come up on the S-curve, can’t be placed in the Berkeley Regional because they have played more than three games at Haas Pavilion this season. That’s a situation unique to this season, however. Otherwise, the geography-first principle stays in place.


High school post-season on tap

Across the country this week, high school basketball teams are wrapping up their regular season schedule and the good teams are preparing for post-season playoffs. Thus begins seven or eight weeks of excitment, as high school playoffs merge right into the NCAA tournament.

ESPN/Rise released its new list of the national top 50 high school teams yesterday. The top teams are unchanged, which is no surprise.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 Girls Basketball Rankings (Feb. 11)

Rank Team (Location) Record Previous Rank

1 South Bend Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 21-0 1
2 Ben Davis (Indianapolis) 23-0 2
3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 25-0 3
4 Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.) 21-1 4
5 Murry Bergtraum (New York City) 20-0 5
6 St. Michael Academy (New York City) 20-2 6
7 Whitney Young (Chicago) 26-1 7
8 Oak Ridge (Tenn.) 22-2 8
9 Bolingbrook (Ill.) 16-4 9
10 Heritage Christian (Indianapolis) 20-1 10
11 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 20-1 11
12 Potter’s House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 27-2 12
13 Detroit Community (Detroit) 13-0 13
14 Westlake (Atlanta) 20-1 14
15 Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 20-0 15
16 Archbishop Carrol (Radnor, Pa.) 20-1 16
17 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 16-0 17
18 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) 16-1 18
19 Millington (Tenn.) 26-2 19
20 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 16-4 20
21 St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.) 20-3 21
22 Westbury Christian (Houston) 39-1 22
23 University (Newark, N.J.) 12-3 23
24 Nimitz (Houston) 30-1 24
25 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 21-1 29
26 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 19-0 26
27 Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 22-2 27
28 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 25-0 28
29 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 22-2 30
30 Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) 28-3 37
31 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 16-2 31
32 Lower Richland (Hopkins, S.C.) 19-1 32
33 St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.) 18-1 33
34 Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 29-1 25
35 Cajon (San Bernadino, Calif.) 23-2 34
36 Memphis Central (Tenn.) 24-1 35
37 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 20-4 36
38 Wilson Central (Lebanon, Tenn.) 22-2 38
39 Eleanor Roosvelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 14-1 40
40 West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) 18-3 41
41 East Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.) 18-3 39
42 Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) 24-3 42
43 Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio) 12-5 43
44 Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.) 24-0 NR
45 Broomfield (Colo.) 19-0 44
46 Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) 19-1 46
47 ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 19-1 47
48 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 15-5 48
49 Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas) 31-2 49
50 Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 17-2 50


Teams are also ranked by region:

In Los Angeles, draws will be made Saturday for city and regional playoff games, beginning next week.

Let the madness begin!

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