Long Beach Poly upset in Nike finals

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- No. 2 Long Beach Poly has many strengths.

The Jackrabbits are fast.

They're physical.

And their duo of big inside players -- Jasmine Dixon and Monique Oliver -- is enough to intimidate most teams off the court.

But in Saturday's clash of California powers at the Northwest Nike Invitational at Southridge High, San Francisco's Sacred Heart wasn't about to back down.

Down nine after a quick Long Beach Poly 7-0 run to start the third, the Fighting Irish took a moment to regroup.

Coach Brian Harrigan had told them this would happen and they would have to stop it to stay alive.

So senior guard Tierra Rogers and junior guard Ki-shawna Moore took over the game and with a big third quarter push guided the two-time defending California Division III champions over the second-ranked Jackrabbits, 74-58.

"It feels really good," said Rogers, who was named the tournament MVP.

"Everbody's been talking Long Beach Poly this, Long Beach Poly that. They're No. 2 in the nation, so we had to prove ourselves."

In the other Saturday games, host Southridge won the third-place game against Prairie, 44-30. In the fifth-place game, Highlands Ranch beat Central Catholic 63-52. In the seventh-place game, Beaverton beat South Eugene 51-43.

It was a tough battle early in the championship, as neither team took more than a two-shot lead. But as they had in the previous two games in Beaverton, the Jackrabbits, the two-time defending California Division I champions, went big to start the second half.

Suddenly, Rogers and Moore couldn't get a shot and Long Beach Poly was up nine and about to run away.

"I'd watched them all tournament," Harrigan said. "People would play them close and (Long Beach Poly) would blow them out in the third quarter. I told my kids this game was going to get away from us if they didn't pick it up. And, you know, they picked it up."

And just as quickly as it started, things went downhill for Long Beach Poly. Oliver and Dixon got into foul trouble. They each sat for a while and when they were on the floor, they didn't attack with their typical ferociousness.

"When both our bigs got in foul trouble, it took away our scoring," Long Beach Poly coach Carl Buggs said. "We had to work too hard for shots and just kind of played into their hands."

So Rogers, who led all scorers with 25, started a comeback and then some. The tournament MVP had 10 points in the third quarter and senior teammate Jazmine Jackson hit five of six from the line. Jackson finished with 15 points, while Moore had 18.

In a foul-heavy fourth, the Jackrabbits couldn't stop the bleeding long enough to catch up, letting Sacred Heart charge ahead without looking back.

Dixon led Long Beach Poly with 23, while Oliver was the only other player for the Jackrabbits in double digits with 11.

"They play in waves," Buggs said. "Once they can get a roll on, boy they can really... that's how they beat Southridge (Friday). I thought when we came out in the third quarter with the big lineup, I said, ok, we can do this. Then once we got the fouls... they kept chipping away."

The Fighting Irish, who had just 13 team fouls during the entire game, made 27 of 37 attempts from the free-throw line. Twenty-four of those were shot by Jackson (10), Moore (6) and Rogers (6).

"We're a good program," Harrigan said. "Hopefully we showed that to a lot of people this weekend."

While Long Beach Poly remains one of the favorites at the first session of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., they won't get a rematch when the tournament begins December 19. The Fighting Irish don't travel to Phoenix until the second session, which begins December 27.

Tierra Rogers, Sacred Heart (MVP)
Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly
Alyssa Fressle, Highlands Ranch
Ashley Corral, Prairie
Michelle Jenkins, Southridge
Kate Lanz, Central Catholic
Ki-shawna Moore, Sacred Heart

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