By Laurel Busby
Continuing its sweep through the Western League, the Palisades High School girls basketball team upped its record to 7-0 last week.
The Dolphins, who have an 18-6 overall record and are coached by Torino Johnson, dominated all but one opponent during its last five conquests, which included a second commanding win over University High School 80- 39, a 97-54 victory over Westchester, an 80-33 win over Hamilton, a 90-13 drubbing of LACES, and the only close game—a 75-68 away win on Jan. 20 against Fairfax, a team that was previously undefeated in league play.
Over the course of both the regular season and its pre-season tournament play, Pali (as of Jan. 25) had scored 1565 points, including 195 three-pointers, for an average of 65.2 points per game, which was 12th in the state. In addition, the team has averaged 23.7 rebounds and 13.7 steals per game while also making 579 field goals, which is third in the state. The girls are currently ranked 51st overall out of 1,392 teams in California.
The Dolphins’ guards continue to be dominant forces, with Chelsey Gipson, who was averaging 23.4 points as of last Wednesday, on fire for most of her games. Gipson’s highest career total was 45 points scored against Westchester, but the senior, who will play for Loyola-Marymount next year, also tallied 32, 28 and 27 points against LACES, Uni and Fairfax respectively in the last two weeks.
Teammate Kayla Williams, a sophomore guard and the team’s second leading scorer, also had repeated strong games, including 34 points and 5 steals versus Hamilton. Averaging 18.5 points per game as of last week, Williams leads the team in steals with 94, and she also garnered 25 points and 7 steals versus Fairfax.
The team is plucky and persistent against its opponents, and the girls continually racked up steals, including 28 versus Hamilton and 26 against Fairfax. Gipson had swiped the ball 65 times as of last week, while fellow guards Chaniya Pickett and Leily Martin had stolen it from opponents 48 times each.
Freshman Jane Nwaba has been the scrappiest rebounder, pulling down 165 rebounds this season, while also scoring 161 points. She had a team high nine rebounds versus Fairfax.
The Dolphins, who traveled to Venice on Monday this week, next host Hamilton on Feb. 2 and Fairfax on Feb. 6, both at 4:30 p.m. In between, Pali will travel on Friday to Santa Ana to play a much-anticipated game against Mater Dei, ranked 15th in the state.
The girls will travel to Westchester on Feb. 8 and will complete league play on Feb. 10 at LACES at 5 p.m.