By Laurel Busby
For the third year in a row, the Palisades girls basketball team has reached the finals in the Open Divi- sion of the CIF Los Angeles City Section, while the boys team reached the semifinals in Division 1, where they lost to Crenshaw 80-50 on Friday, Feb. 24.
The girls beat El Camino Real 75-60 on Saturday and Narbonne 79-27 the previous week to reach the finals, where they will face Fairfax, ranked 28th in the state, on March 4 at 5 p.m. at Cal State Dominguez Hills. During the regular season, the girls split their two games with Fairfax, dealing Fairfax its only regular season defeat 75-68 in their first meeting, while losing 64-59 in Pali’s only regular season defeat.
The team, coached by Torino Johnson, dominated Narbonne from the beginning, scoring 22 points in the first quarter, which was just five points less than their opponent scored throughout the game. Against El Camino Real, the Dolphins also had a strong victory, leading by 9 after the first quarter and reaching halftime with a 41-29 lead. El Camino Real was ranked 55th in the state, while Pali was ranked 48th.
Strong free throw shooting helped the team keep their lead against El Camino Real as Gipson made 10 out of 10 free throws, while Williams downed 13 of 16 attempts. Freshman forward Jane Nwaba grabbed 10 rebounds during the game, which was played at Roybal, while senior forward Julie Ide nabbed 9.
The boys defeated Chatsworth 56-53 and Hamilton 50-40 in their first two playoff games before losing to Crenshaw in the semifinals. Versus Crenshaw, Dayne Downey led Pali with 20 points, but the game, which they played at Roybal, was a tough one.
Crenshaw came out hard, earning a 19- 8 lead after the first quarter, and Pali was never able to come back from that deficit. Both teams scored 16 in the second quarter for a 35-24 halftime score, and then Crenshaw outscored Pali 18-12 in the third and 27-14 in the fourth to earn the victory.
Pali’s previous two playoff victories came at home. They eked out a victory versus Chatsworth, outscoring the Chancellors 16-15 in the first quarter with each team adding 14 points in the second and 11 in the third. Pali then outscored Chatsworth 15-13 in the final quarter to earn the win.
Against Hamilton, Pali was down by two after the first quarter, but then dominated in the second quarter to reach a 23-16 lead at halftime. Hamilton was down 34- 29 at the start of the fourth quarter when Pali went on a 7-2 run to pad their lead to 41-31. The Yankees fought back to come within 5 points, but with little time left to play, they resorted to repeatedly fouling to try and catch the Dolphins.
It never happened as Pali’s last five points came from free throws to win the game 50- 40. Downey led the team with 14 points, while Daniel Emein contributed 12.