Poly survives a late 4th quarter rally to defeat Garfield 61-56 in the Division I Girls Basketball Semifinals


The two-seeded Poly Parrots punched their ticket to the CIF L.A. City Section Division I Girls Basketball Semifinals after coming out victorious in a 54-50 double-overtime thriller against Verdugo Hills a week earlier. The ladies of Poly took the court at Birmingham Community Charter High School on Friday, February 16th, 2024 seeking their second consecutive berth in the championship game against a sixth-seeded Garfield Bulldogs team with only five total losses on the season. Poly maintained the lead for the majority of the contest, as three different players reached double figures in points. After extending the lead to as many as fifteen points in the fourth quarter, the Parrots held off a late charge from the Bulldogs to triumph 61-56 to earn their second consecutive trip to the championship game.

Garfield faced a tough challenge defensively heading into Friday night taking on a top-10 scorer in the L.A. City Section in Poly senior Hannah Lising. Averaging 17.6 points per game on season, she quickly asserted herself on the offensive end with eight first quarter points, while also getting her teammates involved as the primary ball handler. “That’s the best part of her game.”, according to Poly Head Coach Elton Feri, “she’s able to break down defenses & her vision is so great, she knows when to drop [off] the ball.” 

After a 14-7 start, Poly held an eight-point lead after the first quarter. The Parrots took a 23-13 lead after Lising drilled a three-pointer, which led to Garfield subsequently changing their defensive strategy. The Bulldogs defense began pressing her in the backcourt, forcing back-to-back turnovers as part of a 11-2 run to close the quarter to cut the deficit to one point at halftime.

The Bulldogs took a brief lead after scoring the first basket of the second half, but Poly tightened up their defense in the third quarter through making defections in the passing lanes. Lising and junior Jhada Cordon took advantage of turnover opportunities by attacking the basket to spark a 10-2 run in the third quarter. The game took on a physical tone with bodies flying around, as the Parrots took a 39-33 lead into the final period.

Cordon and sophomore Audrey Flores were the offensive catalysts for an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter after protecting the paint on defense with their physicality. With under 5:00 left, Poly held a fifteen-point lead with the game seemingly under control. Garfield junior guard Jada Barnes was not ready for their season to end, and she scored 11 of her 14 fourth quarter points as a part of a 15-2 run to cut the lead to as little as three with under a minute left in the game.

As the crowds for both sides were looking on with anxious anticipation, Poly junior Isabella Cruz earned a key interior basket to extend their lead to 56-51 with 41.4 seconds left. After the Parrots earned a stop on their next possession, Garfield was forced to foul. Poly converted their free throws and held on to win 61-56 to advance to the CIF D1 Finals. Lising contributed 20 points, while Cordon and Cruz each had 10 points of their own. Barnes finished with a game-high 23 points on the outing.

Feri alluded to his team’s ability to keep their composure through their collective experience this season in playing tough games, “We’re [kinda] used to this where games are close, and we just [kinda] know what to do.” Poly will face their East Valley League rival Arleta on Friday Night at 8:00 with a city championship on the line.

*All photographs provided courtesy of VST intern Benjamin Becher

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