Far Northeast's late-game run sends Central to loss in first playoff game since '10
A rough fourth quarter doomed the Central Warriors in their first playoff game since 2010.
The game came down to a game-changing run by Far Northeast in the final quarter that led to a 39-31 win in the first round of the Class 5A girls basketball playoffs on Tuesday night.
Central was in control, but couldn’t make the key shot when the Warriors needed it most.
After Sierra Batchelor grabbed a rebound and zipped a perfect long pass between two defenders to a streaking Jayda Walker-Towles for a layup, the Warriors had a 26-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It was the third five-point lead of the game for Central, but it could never extend the lead.
Far Northeast, formerly Montbello High School, was having just as much trouble hitting big shots — until midway through the fourth quarter.
Then one player starting hitting nearly all the shots. Freshman Tosjanae Bonds scored 12 points in a 14-4 run that turned that five-point deficit into a 35-30 lead with just under three minutes remaining.
“They went on a run and we struggled mentally with that run,” Central coach Mary Doane said.
The biggest problem for Central was an off-night shooting from the field.
“We couldn’t take the lid off the basket tonight,” Doane said. “We were a little tight. It was a little bit of the high expectations, first time (in the playoffs) in a long time. People who know sports know that’s going to affect you a little bit.”
Bonds hit a pair of wide-open 3-pointers and added a three-point play in between Central’s baskets to turn the game around for the Far Northeast Warriors. Bonds scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Central (12-12) came out a little tight in the game but regrouped with a strong 14-point second quarter to take an 18-15 lead at the half.
Central struggled from the field in the first half, but the Warriors kept pushing the ball up the court and hustled after every loose ball. Even after several shots rimmed out, Central remained aggressive and took the lead thanks to free-throw shooting.
Central scored 10 of its first 14 points from the line.
When Delaney Brown scored off an offensive rebound, Central led 16-11.
After Far Northeast took the lead at 19-18 in the third quarter, Central made an immediate response with three drives to the hoop.
Sydney Corra drove for a bucket, then Jacquelyn Mitchell hit a nifty left-handed layup and spun in a second drive to put Central up 24-21.
Walker-Towles, who finished with 15 points, scored on a pair of drives later, but that’s when Bonds got hot.
Up to the point when Bonds caught fire, Far Northeast (17-7) had been shut down, limited to only six points in each of the second and third quarters.
Doane said the Warriors overcame a lot of obstacles in the season.
“I’m disappointed with how this game finished but if you knew the adversity that this team went through at the beginning of the season, to go from where we were at the beginning to where we ended, is just amazing,” Doane said.
She mentioned two players who had knee injuries and another three players who moved out of the area, which left the team with limited varsity experience.
“They really embraced the process and they got better and kept grinding and doing everything they could and had fun. I’m very proud of them,” she added. “They saw a lot of success and had fun doing it.”