By Josh Levine
If Friday night was a preview of the Academic Athletic Association girls basketball championship game, then Lowell High School should feel even better about its 47-35 win over rival Washington at Kezar Pavilion.
Both teams came into the game undefeated in AAA play and atop their respective divisions and are the favorites to reach the championship game for the second-consecutive year.
“I told my girls before the game that this is the preview of the championship,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada. “Washington is a very tough and talented team, and as I said at halftime, whichever side makes the run will win and today we did that.”
The Cardinals (17-4, 7-0) got their run in the third quarter, when they surged for nine unanswered points to change a 26-23 Washington lead into a 32-26 Lowell advantage. Junior guard Katarina Lum had five of those points, including a three-pointer that ignited the Lowell crowd.
“We played great as a team out there,” Lum said. “We had to ignore the crowd and play our game. We tried not to get crazy out there and cut down on our turnovers. When I took that shot, we had one of our other guards bring the ball up and she drove and kicked it to me. I took my time with it and all I thought about was that it better go in.”
Lum only took six shots from the field due to foul trouble in the first half, but finished with 15 points to lead all scorers, with 13 coming in the second half. Angie Ng and Kelly Wong also finished in double figures for the Cardinals, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Eagles (7-13, 5-1) were plagued by 23 turnovers, many of which came on traveling violations.
“I was very pleased with how we played for three quarters today. In the third quarter, we went kind of crazy and lost our composure with some bad decisions,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “I keep telling my girls that every possession is important, but kids are kids. We can’t give Lowell any extra chances.”
Washington guard Raelyn Cheung-Sutton had a team-high 12 points, but no other player finished with double figures.
“This game won’t affect us down the road,” Wong said. “If we make it to the championship [game], we will face Lowell. I can’t wait to face them again.”
Katarina Lum – 15
Angie Ng – 11
Kelly Wong – 10
Taylor Sui – 5
Jillian Doherty – 4
Raelyn Cheung-Sutton – 12
Phacharee Arunleung – 6
Mari Kawano – 6
Bridget Chow – 5
Karah Butac – 4