Every member of the Crossroads girls’ basketball team has received a bag of sand from the coaching staff.
The expectation is that with each viewing it will serve as a reminder of six weeks of running in the sand at Santa Monica Beach, which was the team’s first undertaking of this championship season in off-season workouts.
When Crossroads defeated Sierra Canyon High of Chatsworth, 63-50, on Friday, February 29 at The Pyramid on the campus of California State University, Long Beach the Roadrunners earned the first CIF championship in girls basketball in school history.
The championship was won on the third try. Crossroads reached the CIF Finals in 1995 and 1999 but lost both times.
There are more than 100 schools in Division 5-A.
A coaching staff of Kevin Cormier and assistants Al Buck and Bridget Trumpett arrived this season after Danielle Minton, who guided the team to the semi-finals last season, didn’t return.
Conditioning was stressed, and the new staff felt their players were in better shape than most opponents.
“We had remarkable leadership from Channer Miller and Jessy Ekstein, our two seniors, and we needed that,” said Buck. “They led the way and the commitment from the team was remarkable.
“It was a team of high intellect with a competitive edge. Now these girls are part of the school’s history. A banner will be hung in our gymnasium, and that stays up forever.”
Crossroads isn’t finished yet, either. The team is expected to be invited to the state tournament, although winning there will be more difficult because there’s no 5-A grouping and the Roadrunners will face stronger competition as a 4-A school.
Pairings weren’t available at press time, however it’s unlikely Crossroads would have a first round home game.
The CIF championship game wasn’t close. Crossroads got off to a fast start and led by 15 or more points most of the second half, improving its record to 20-7.
Shannon McQueen scored 21 points, Megan Baer had 15, Kristina Murray contributed 11 points and 17 rebounds, and Nadine Byers scored seven, mostly in the second half.
It was Crossroads’ third win over Sierra Canyon, a fellow Delphic League member, this season. Similarly, Crossroads beat league member LA Baptist for the third time in the semi-finals.
The Roadrunners have won nine consecutive games following a 90-42 loss to Cabrillo, which plays in a much higher division. The Crossroads coaches accepted that non-league game in part to illustrate to the players another level of competition. Instead of being discouraged, the Crossroads girls proceeded to work harder.
Most of the players are due back, and Crossroads could remain powerful next season.