By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Prior to last Friday, the last time the Palisades High girls basketball team faced Western League rival Hamilton the City Section title was on the line. That was on February 29, 2020 when the two teams met in the Open Division finals at L.A. Southwest College.
Palisades won 60-44 to capture its second straight title (it had won the Division I title the year before) behind City Player of the Year and Post Cup Award winner Jane Nwaba (now at Pepperdine). The Yankees were led by All-City forward Kennedee Rankin (who went on to Cal State LA).
The long-awated rematch of the 2020 City final did not feature either team’s superstar from a year ago, but it had plenty of drama nonethless and in the end, host Palisades prevailed 48-39 to take control of the league race.
Sophomore forward Taylor Arnold led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds and point guard Alexis Pettis got up from a couple of hard spills to add seven points, as did senior forward Ivy Scott.
The teams could meet up in the City playoffs in a couple of weeks as the Dolphins pursue their third straight section championship.
Palisades started the game on fire, taking an early 16-8 lead before the visitors could settle into their run-and-gun offense.
Taylor’s twin Elise had seven points and older Sammie added eight points and five rebounds.
Palisades won both regular season meetings last year, holding off a furious fourth quarter rally to take the first encounter 53-51, then clinching the league title and No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a 59-50 victory on the road.
Hamilton had confidence going into Friday’s contest, having edged Brentwood 72-70 the day before for its fifth straight win.
Palisades also entered with momentum after a 60-28 triumph at LACES in which the Dolphins fell behind early but outscored the Unicorns 21-3 in the second quarter and 21-7 in the third. Each of Palisades’ six losses has come to a ranked Southern Section opponent, including two to Harvard-Westlake (ranked No. 4 in California) and another to Sierra Canyon (No. 16).
Palisades was ahead after every quarter and managed to prevail despite missing 19 free throws, allowing Hamilton to creep within seven points several times. Sydney Blevins had a game-high 16 points for the Yankees, who suffered their first loss of the season.
The Dolphins traveled to Westchester yesterday and host Venice on Senior Night tomorrow.
The scary thing for opponents is that the Dolphins have defeated every City school they have faced without injured junior wing Demonnie Lagway, who emerged as a star in last winter’s City and regional playoffs and earned All-State honors. When she returns to the lineup Palisades figures to be even more unstoppable.
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