Canyons girls hoops slips up against Camarillo

Canyon's Chidinma Okafor (13) steals the ball from Camarillo defenders at Canyon High on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

By Bryanna Winner

For The Signal

Camarillo beat the Canyon girls basketball team, 52-49, on Wednesday at Canyon High School to remain undefeated this season.

After competing in the Culver City Tip-Off Classic, the Cowboys were coming into Wednesday’s game against Camarillo with a 3-1 record while the Scorpions, who competed in the same tournament, went undefeated and came into the game 4-0. 

“They all know how to move without the ball and it’s a great team to learn from. Trying to keep your hands up and not bail them out, make them make jump shots,” said head coach Jessica Haayer about Camarillo.

The Cowboys started the game off strong as they led the entire first half. By the end of the first quarter, Canyon led 17-11 with senior Chidinma Okafor leading the Cowboys with six points followed by junior Jordan Wise and senior Riley Laplant with four points each. 

“At first, we did pretty well adapting to their tempo, we played them last year and we kind of know how they play so we focused on setting the pace of the game,” said Okafor.

The last time these two teams faced off, Camarillo came out on top 66-21 on their home court. 

During the second half, the Scorpions were able to shorten the Cowboys’ lead by three going into halftime with a score of 26-23. Okafor scored half of the Cowboys’ points. 

“If I would’ve said a couple of days ago that we would be up at halftime by two, they are a Division 1 team so the fact that we were up at halftime was great,” said Haayer. “I didn’t make many in-game adjustments, I thought we were doing fine in our man-to-man defense.”

This changed drastically as the Scorpions took control coming out of the break.  
Canyon trailed for the first time with 4:30 left in the third quarter and from there, it was a back-and-forth affair, finishing the frame tied at 39 apiece. The fourth quarter was all Scorpion as the Cowboys got sloppy and were consistently turning over the ball and getting called for fouls compared to the Scorpions. 

“They have one heck of a player and it’s tough to defend her. We put her at the line and I think she missed two all night,” said head coach Jessica Haayer. “That was basically the name of the game, we were up by almost 10 and we put them on the line and they scored 10 straight at the line. That’s the hard part trying not to let (Alyssa Marin) score.”

Okafor led the team with 26 points, eight rebounds, five blocks. Senior Jwamee Advincula had six points and led the team in assists with nine.

“(Okafor) had a heck of a game,” said Haayer. “I complimented her in the end (in the locker room) and talked about how she made some big girl moves. I’ve never seen her make some of those. She was on fire tonight and I thought we didn’t give her the ball enough. Proud of her.”

The Cowboys will head to Village Christian to take on the Crusaders (1-1) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Before they do, they are going to work on getting better in the days leading up to their matchup with the Crusaders.

“We’ve just got to get better ourselves. Camarillo and Village Christian are nothing in the scheme of where we want to go,” said Haayer. “We just have to get better, keep learning how to play, growing our IQ and just being physical.”  

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