After his Lowell girls’ basketball team grinded out a 48-37 win over Burton in the San Francisco Section semifinal, coach Aki Kuwada insinuated the Cardinals were not a great offensive team.
He’d have a hard time convincing Washington of that this morning.
Top-seeded Lowell made 13 of 29 first-half field goals, ended the second quarter on an 18-2 run and had 10 players score in a decisive 55-30 win over the second-seeded Eagles on Friday night at Kezar Pavilion. It was the second consecutive championship for the Cardinals (28-2), who beat Washington 56-46 in overtime in the final a year ago.
Both teams now advance to next week’s NorCal Division I tournament.
“We always bring the same intensity on defense,” Kuwada said. “And when we’re making shots like that, we’re tough to stop. And it’s not like we were just chucking up 3s — we were taking the right shots. They played great.”
The Cardinals’ signature suffocating defense was also on display as they forced 20 turnovers and held Washington to just 7-of-44 shooting from the field. Lowell didn’t allow a basket for the final 12 minutes, 15 seconds of the game.
“In practice, we focus all our energy and attention on defense,” Lowell senior Angelina Clay said. “And it really came through for us.”
Heather Chow scored 16 points to lead Lowell, while Clay chipped in 10. The lopsided final was a huge departure from the tight games that typically characterize this rivalry, as the Eagles (15-15) beat the Cardinals 64-57 in triple overtime in their first meeting this season and Lowell countered with a 37-29 win Feb. 13.
“I expected it to be close like all the other ones, but we just wanted it so bad,” Clay said. “It was the championship game and we did exactly what we needed to do.”
Lowell led just 9-6 in the closing seconds of the first quarter when Kimberly Wong hit an NBA 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Cardinals up 12-6, sparking a 10-0 run that bridged the first and second periods. After Steph Truong (14 points) scored five straight for Washington, Lowell went on the 18-2 run to take a 37-13 lead into halftime.
“Our heads just weren’t in it and you could tell it from the beginning,” Washington coach Vince Wong said. “Everyone was trying to play as an individual and in a team game, that won’t work.”
Lowell 55, Washington 30