BY JOHN MURPHY
The Beaumont High girls’ basketball team found itself in a five-point hole to start its game Tuesday, Dec. 21 against rival Banning. But the host Cougars scored the next nine points en route to a 61-17 non-league victory.
The victory improved Beaumont to 11-0 while Banning fell to 8-4.
“I’m very pleased,” Beaumont coach Pete Carr said. “We made the semifinals (of the section playoffs) last year and over the summer we talked about wanting to take it farther this year. That means playing pressure defense and pushing the ball on offense.”
Both were apparent after Banning seized a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes.
The Cougars pressed Banning relentlessly and harassed the Broncos all over the court to take control of the game.
A tip-in by freshman Amirah Jones with 5:27 left in the first quarter and then back-to-back lay-ins by Kiya Waters gave Beaumont its first lead, 6-5.
The Cougars led 14-10 by the end of the first quarter and were never threatened after that.
“We’ve been playing really good defense and that allows us to win games,” Beaumont senior guard Aranxta Roman said. “Defense gives us the motivation and the momentum to do better. It leads to easy fastbreaks.”
The Cougars use a 1-2-2 press and trap whenever they can.
“Things are going great,” said Jana Roman, Aranxta’s twin sister.
“We’re 11-0 and we want to keep it that way. We’re trying our best on defense and talking (to each other) a lot too.”
Six-foot sophomore Grace Lee is one of three players on the Cougars who helped Beaumont to a Citrus Belt League volleyball title in the fall. The others are Waters and Isabella Florence.
Lee is also optimistic.
“I feel good,” she said. “We’ve started out strong and I think it’s because of the running and conditioning we did during the off-season. We can press and not get tired.”
Lee also said the Cougars are communicating better on the court and are more aggressive.
Lee led the Cougars against Banning with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Also for Beaumont, Florence and Jones scored 12 points apiece, and Waters chipped in with eight points.
The Cougars were without two key players in junior point guard Jada Long and junior shooting guard Janelle Pilao.
Their absence showed in the chaotic first few minutes, but then the Cougars settled down. Jones gave Beaumont a lift off the bench with her ability to drive to the basket and then score or feed teammates. The boys’ game between Beaumont (8-4) and Banning (2-8) was even more one-sided as Beaumont prevailed 83-33.