LOS ANGELES — Whatever Monroe freshman forward Ayisat Afolabi was doing against Birmingham in the City Section girls Division III xhampionship at Roybal LC, it was working.
But it wasn't working enough. Afolabi had 17 points and nine rebounds to keep her Vikings in the game throughout the Saturday matinee contest, but a consistent three-headed attack from the Patriots gave Birmingham the win, 55-44.
Charnae Thomas, Destiny Melton and Tyra Knox each shot an identical six of nine from the field for the Patriots, combining to score 39 points. The trio also totaled 16 assists, 13 rebounds and six steals.
Birmingham (18-9) had a solid hold on the lead for most of the game, but Monroe was never really out of it until the final buzzer sounded, Patriots coach Hollie Wilson said.
"I can breathe now," Wilson said when the game ended. "I wasn't breathing the whole game."
The Patriots used a stifling defense to limit Monroe's Ani Avaessian to just nine points. The Vikings (23-8) had held their last opponent — Sylmar — to just 15 points on Feb. 25. But their defense wasn't as effective.
"I thought we matched up with them pretty well," Monroe coach Quincy Brooks said. "But our whole thing this whole year has been defense, and we didn't play good enough defense today to get it done."
Wilson called the performance of the frosh Afolabi "incredible," but also said Thomas was equally effective.
The 5-foot-7 guard had 12 assists while playing every second of the game and pushing the ball up and down the court.
"She always runs the floor for us," Wilson said. "The only thing I have with her is sometimes she doesn't shoot enough — sometimes she passes when I want her to shoot."