By Ernest Stone
Washington High School guard Raelyn Cheung-Sutton’s two free throws with 49 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter marked the 14th lead change of Friday’s Academic Athletic Association contest against rival Lowell.
Fortunately for the Eagles, Cheung-Sutton’s free throws proved to be the last lead change, as Washington edged the Cardinals 40-37 at Kezar Pavilion.
“Raelyn is clutch,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “She didn’t have the type of game she is capable of tonight, but she sure finished, and that’s what counts.”
It was only fitting that Washington (14-8, 6-0) ended the game at the free throw line, as both the Eagles’ and Cardinals’ around-the-rim styles of play led to a total of 39 free throw attempts between the two teams.
“I think the only real difference between us was the amount of turnovers we committed,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada. “Our turnover problem hasn’t really been solved yet this year, and it is definitely our biggest problem moving forward.”
While Lowell’s turnovers didn’t always result in immediate points for Washington, they killed many potential runs that may have changed the outcome of the game.
Up 18-15 in the second quarter, Lowell (15-4, 4-1) failed to capitalize on four straight defensive stops with three turnovers of their own. Shortly thereafter, Washington responded with a 10-5 run to close out the second quarter and enter the half up 25-23.
Then, with the two teams tied 37-37 late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals turned the ball over on two straight possessions to set up Cheung-Sutton’s game-winning free throws.
Despite the tough loss, the Cardinals are still in great position for a league title, as they enter the second half of their league schedule tied for first place with Galileo in the AAA’s Neff Division.
Washington will look to stay undefeated in league next week against Balboa.
“We are an extremely smart and hardworking team with big-game experience, so we know what it takes to win these late season games. I’m not worried about this group,” Wong said.
Phacharee Arunleung – 9
Melanie Louie – 8
Meghan Louie – 6
Raelyn Cheung-Sutton – 6
Kelly Lern – 5
Katarina Lum – 12
Angie Ng – 8
Lorna Tuufuli – 7
Tiffany Pak – 5