Needing only one win in its final three games to wrap up first place in the Ocean League, the Culver City High girls basketball team took the floor Friday night at Goodyear Gym determined to complete the mission as quickly as possible.
The Centaurs took full advantage of the home court, winning 55-37 and making their last two regular season games (Tuesday against Hawthorne and Thursday at archrival Beverly Hills) simply a pursuit for perfection.
"They had their sights on going undefeated and that's a good thing," Culver City head coach Julian Anderson said. "Whenever you lose expectations, you lose the rest of the season, so it's good to stay hungry. The girls really wanted it this one. Inglewood came out with a good gameplan but the girls fought through it."
Taylor Tanita led the way with 17 points and fellow senior guard Markie Samler scored six points for Culver City (17-7 overall, 8-0 in league).
"We want to go far this year," senior Mithzy Hernandez said. "It's our senior year, it's the last time we'll all be together and we want to go as far as possible to win something for our school and make a name for ourselves."
The loss dropped Inglewood (4-4, 11-14) into fourth place. Beverly Hills (2-6 in league) is in fifth and Morningside (0-8) is last. Hawthorne and Santa Monica are tied for second at 5-3 in league.
"It was pretty rough the first half, but we picked it up in the second half and made it through," Kelsey Ueda said. "We still need to concentrate and get our heads focused for the next two games because they're going to be tough."
Aamahd Walker had 23 points and Keilan Horton added 22, but no other Culver City player scored more than three in Friday's 78-57 loss to visiting Inglewood.
The Centaurs trailed 33-27 at halftime but were outscored 45-30 over the final two quarters.
"The end of the game wasn't pretty, in the second quarter we settled for some shots we shouldn't have taken," Centaurs Coach Jon Chapman said. "The third and fourth [quarters] we struggled, we couldn't make up enough points and our defense faltered a bit. We allowed them to hit some threes and we had trouble staying in front of our man. We played a team with significant size and that was the deciding factor."
Its second consecutive loss dropped Culver City (12-12, 3-5) into a tie for fourth place in league with Morningside heading into Tuesday's final home game against Hawthorne. The Centaurs wrap the regular season Thursday at archrival Beverly Hills (4-4 in league).
"We started coming together as a team, started getting the lead down," Walker said. "But they were shooting pretty good and hit some threes to kill our energy and that affected us a lot."