Lynwood Survives, Berkeley & Mitty Thrive

A series of key girls basketball matchups held Saturday was highlighted by Lynwood's comeback win over Artesia, Berkeley's possible season-turning victory over nationally-ranked Marin Catholic and Mitty's overtime win over an out-of-state powerhouse.

Lynwood came into a matchup against host Artesia of Lakewood with an 18-0 record and the No. 1 national ranking by the Student Sports FAB 50. And with just over three minutes left, the Knights' hopes for finishing as a mythical national champ looked bleak. Artesia, led by the hot shooting of Brittney Thomas, had assumed a 68-57 lead.

But that's when the Knights' vaunted full-court press went to work. With sophomore sensation Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood and seniors Janice Bright and Andrea Adams extending the pressure to all corners, Artesia turned the ball over on six straight possessions. Lynwood converted, tying the score at 68-68 and winning the game, 70-68, when Wiley-Gatewood finished off a driving layup with just five seconds left.

Wiley-Gatewood scored 11 of the Knights' final 15 points and finished with a game-high 29. Bright only had two points at halftime but sizzled with 21 in the second and finished with 23. Artesia's top scorers were Brittney Thomas with 20, Lindsey Thomas with 18 and Cacie Pope with 13.

Artesia fell to 12-5 overall, but the Pioneers still enhanced their status as frontrunners to win the Division III state title. After all, their losses have come to Narbonne (twice), Long Beach Poly and Mountain View of Orem, Utah in addition to Lynwood. All four of those teams appear in the FAB 50.

The big news in Northern California, meanwhile, took place at the Acalanes Shootout in Lafayette where in the feature game Berkeley may have gotten itself back on track with a 56-52 victory over Marin Catholic of Kentfield.

The Yellowjackets, who've been in the last two Division I state finals, came into the matchup with an 8-7 record. They had a previous win over St. Mary's of Stockton, but also had losses to Pleasant Valley of Chico, Modesto Christian and to several teams at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. Marin Catholic entered with a top 20 national ranking by the Student Sports FAB 50, based mainly on a victory at the Nike TOC over Highlands Ranch of Colorado, which entered that event ranked No. 2 in the FAB 50.

Sabrina Keys knocked down 18 points to lead Berkeley, but it was her team's bench strength that was the difference since she had to watch the final minutes of the game with five fouls. Keys also helped shut down Marin Catholic center Brooke Smith, who only scored nine points.

Berkeley took a 53-52 lead with 55 seconds left on a bucket by Angelita Hutton. Smith missed two shots for Marin Catholic that would have given her team the lead.

Berkeley's usual nemesis in the NorCal Div. I playoffs, Mitty of San Jose, also came to the Acalanes Shootout and was matched up against East High of Anchorage, Alaska, which has won the last two large class titles in that state and last year was unbeaten. And like Berkeley, Mitty came up with more clutch plays down the stretch and wound up with a wild 88-85 overtime win.

East Anchorage overcame a five-point deficit heading into the final quarter with a 29-point explosion. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, Mitty was almost as hot. The Monarchs sent the game into overtime when sophomore guard Monique Coquilla canned a 3-pointer with six seconds left in regulation. The extra time saw Mitty outscore East Anchorage by 11-8.

Coquilla finished with 27 points for Mitty as did junior Mary-Eileen Gallagher, who's normally known for her defensive prowess. East Anchorage was led by Tenecia Macon, who scored 26, and Natalie Jones, who had 23.

In another noteworthy Saturday night special girls basketball game, St. Mary's of Stockton, considered the No. 1 ranked team in the entire Sac-Joaquin Section, posted a 71-66 win on the road against Clovis West of Fresno, ranked No. 1 in the Central Section.

Note: Sources for this report were the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Contra Costa Times, Stockton Record and Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News.

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