The Archer School for Girls (Brentwood) moved into the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) division 4A girls basketball playoffs with a 57-35 victory over Big Bear High School (Big Bear) at Santa Monica College on Friday.
Archer will travel to Santa Fe Springs to face #2 seeded St. Paul High School (15-13 overall) on Monday. Tip off is at 7 p.m. Archer, who won the Delphic league championship with a 9-1 record, is now 18-8 overall. Big Bear finished the season at 11-10.
The Big Bear Bears from Bear Valley battled Archer early with crisp passing and strong perimeter shooting. Archer switched its defense and turned a seven point halftime lead into a 22 point victory behind a 31-16 second half run.
Archer's two ALL-CIF selections form the 2011 season led the way. Senior Coco Maurice scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while sophomore sensation Maia Barnett filled up the scoresheet with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. The Big Bear Bears Burks sisters were held in check as senior Leslie Baker and junior Mariah Davis provided a solid defense effort, combining for 14 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. With starting junior Ciena Lennon out for the season with a recently dislocated shoulder, reserve players Adrianna Bass, Rachel Magnin, Emily Ward, Allie Simon and Chanel Williams stepped up to combine for 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
The team also sank 10 of 16 free throws, a testament to their efforts in practice.
The first round game was scheduled to be played Thursday, but was moved to Friday when Big Bear was snowed in. The extra day of practice allowed Archer to prepare for the Big Bear offense as coaches Kristen Benjamin and Alex Pegnato simulated the Burks twins attack.
Another Archer coach provided a lift as head middle school coach Lisa Live performed the National Anthem prior to the game. Coach Live also brought a significant number of fans from her Triple Threat Ballers club team that came out to support TTB member Barnett and the Archer squad. The Pavilion at Santa Monica College, Archer's "home away from home", has proved tough for opponents as Archer has now won 14 of its last 15 at SMC. Archer students, parents, faculty and staff members filled the stands for the school's first ever victory in the highly competitive CIF division 4 playoffs.
Recent CIF legislation whereby schools with less than 1250 students must play in division 4 or lower plus a competitive equity formula (Archer advanced to the 5AA CIF quarterfinals in 2011) has placed Archer in the 4A division. The girls have stepped up to the challenge by taking an ambitious non-league schedule against large enrollment schools with strong basketball programs. Despite the tough schedule, Archer has tied the school record for most wins with 18. The girls have now won 11 of their last 14 games, with the three losses by a combined seven points. Along the way the team captured the school's first ever league basketball title. This is the third straight year Archer has qualified for the CIF playoffs and the second straight year they have advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen."
Next up for Archer is a formidable St. Paul High School team. Playing in one of the toughest leagues in the state, the Lady Swordsmen (not a typo, they really call their girls teams "lady swordsmen") battled with the likes of Serra (Gardena), Bishop Montgomery (Torrance), Bishop Amat (La Puente) and 2011 California state playoffs runner-up St. Bernard (Playa del Rey). Each school from the Del Rey League qualified for the post-season and was seeded in their respective playoff brackets and won their opening round games. The Lady Swordsmen (why not Swordswomen, right?) did not win a league game, but they did win 15 of 20 non-league games and thus earned the #2 seed in the 4A. The Lady Swordsmen (still have a hard time typing that) routed Notre Dame (Riverside) in the first round 56-29.
St. Paul High School was founded in 1956 as Santa Fe Catholic High School, but they changed their name in 1958 to avoid confusion with the local public school. I guess "Lady Swordsmen" is not confusing? Naming things may not be their strength, but athletics sure enough is. On the school website they proclaim "for over 54 years, St. Paul High School has been a name associated with Academic Achievement and Athletic Success." Football (the boys of course go by "Swordsmen", not "Gentlemen Swordswomen" as one might expect) has been a calling card at the school for a number of years behind the winningest football coach in California state history, Marijon Ancich. The revered coach has led the Swordsmen to three state championships and 19 league titles. Archer will not be the only team from Brentwood traveling to the "Gateway Cities" area for a game Monday. The Brentwood Schools girls basketball team will play Whittier Christian in an other CIF 4A second round matchup.
Should Archer prevail, the girls will take on the winner of St. Bonaventure (Ventura, 18-7) and Marymount (Los Angeles, 16-12) in the CIF quarterfinals. Archer would be the host for the game, more than likely at SMC. The Archer team is hoping their loyal fans will take the "road trip" 45 minutes south to Santa fe Springs as they attempt to qualify for the quarterfinals two straight years.
CIF BASKETBALL INFORMATION: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20th
CIF 4A Basketball Playoffs, Second Round: Archer School for Girls @ St. Paul High School, 9635 Greenleaf Ave., Santa Fe Springs, 90670
Game Time 7:00pm. General admission is $7.00, $4.00 for students with school ID.
Kirsten Avila, Leslie Baker, Maia Barnett, Adriana Bass, Mariah Davis, Ciena Lennon, Rachel Magnin, Coco Maurice, Allie Simon, Emily Ward, Chanel Williams
Denny Lennon, Kristen Benjamin, Alex Pegnato, Christine Jinbo, Lisa Live