The Ladycat Classic is often one of the most challenging girls' basketball tournaments of the month, and several teams stay away from it because it's too tough too soon in the season. Nobody wants to get off to a bad start in the first week.
There was no chance of that between Brea Olinda and Long Beach Poly. The two powerhouses held form and reached the 31st annual final, where Brea rallied for a 60-53 victory.
Brea (3-0) came into the game ranked No. 2 in the ESPN Fab 50, and Poly (2-1) was ranked No. 12. Then they provided the national-caliber drama.
Brea, down 34-26, overcame a 10-point third quarter deficit with a 14-0 run, and the powers battled through the fourth. Tied at 48 going into the fourth quarter, Poly took an early lead and was tied at 51 when its shooting went south.
Keitra Wallace scored 19 for Brea, and Taylor Spears, who played last season at Mater Dei, added 14 for the Ladycats. Justine Hartman had 13.
Ariya Crook-Williams led Poly with 22; she was the only player who scored more than eight points.
Even though both teams are among the best in the nation, they aren't even the highest ranked team from the Southern Section; Mater Dei is ranked No. 1.