By John Blomster
Lowell High School overpowered Washington High School with a virtually impenetrable defense and aggressive offense in its 60-29 victory in the semifinal round of the AAA playoffs at Kezar Pavilion on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals (26-3) controlled the game on both ends of the court and, with the win, advance to the AAA championship game against Lincoln High School on Friday night.
Defensively, Lowell stopped Washington (19-14) by forcing 25 turnovers and preventing shots for minutes at a time.
“I emphasize to [the team] every day. Play defense and the offense will come sooner or later. That’s what happened,” said Lowell Head Coach Aki Kuwada.
The Cardinal offense, which was explosive at times, dominated on the boards, rebounding for second and third shots frequently.
“The number-one key was rebounds,” said Washington Head Coach Vince Wong. “They did a very good job and we didn’t. You’ve got to give credit to Lowell. They kept coming.”
Washington was down 9-0 in the first quarter but kept the game close in the remainder of the half despite being held to 14 points. Trailing by nine beginning the second half, Washington surrendered two turnovers in two possessions, resulting in back-to-back three point shots from Lowell junior Erin Ng and senior Kristina Lum.
Lum led the game with 14 points and fellow senior Amanda Chow added 10.
The Eagles could not seem to build any momentum in the third and were unable to score until the 2:24 mark in the quarter. In that time, Lowell pulled far out of reach, outscoring Washington 27-5.
Despite shooting 36 percent from the field, Lowell was able to muscle up 27 more shots inside than Washington throughout the game. Washington was outsized and, despite flashes of skilled ball-handling and passing, outmatched offensively.
Lowell’s effective offensive rebounding resulted in wide-open shots from the outside and a total of eight three-pointers, with five coming in the crucial third quarter.
“I told the girls before the game that whomever wins the boards is going to win this game,” Kuwada said.
Washington sophomore Sarah Chin had a team-high 8 points in the loss.