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Girls' basketball: Long Beach Poly upsets Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in the nation

Long Beach Poly, ranked No. 9 in the nation, upset top-ranked Mater Dei, 61-56, on Tuesday in the semifinals at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler, Ariz. 

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who had twisted her right ankle in a quarterfinal on Monday, scored 25 points in the first half to give Mater Dei a 35-28 advantage. 

"I knew she was going to play," said Poly Coach Carl Buggs. "If she's going to walk, she's going to play. She showed no ill effects. She shot the ball better than I saw her shoot all year. I don't think she missed a shot in the first half."

Buggs changed his defensive scheme in the second half, putting Tajanae Winston and Destiny King on Mosqueda-Lewis -- the top-ranked player in the nation in the 2011 class. They held her to two points. 

Then Ariya Crook-Williams took over, scoring 12 points in the third quarter to give Poly a 42-40 lead with two minutes remaining in the period. She had eight more points in the fourth quarter, including two clutch free throws with Poly up by two and less than a minute remaining.  

She finished with 20 of her 25 points in the second half. Sheila Boykin added 16. 

"It was a battle from the beginning to the end," Buggs said. "We didn't start taking control of the game until there was 15 seconds left."

When the teams played last year at the Nike Tournament of Champions, Mater Dei won, 56-51. Buggs said this victory was huge but wasn't celebrating quite yet. Instead he was in the gym, intently watching the semifinal between No. 2 Brea Olinda and No. 3 Bolingbrook (Ill.). 

Poly will play the winner of that game on Wednesday for the prestigious Joe Smith division championship.  

--Melissa Rohlin

 
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