Long Beach community comes together to help Poly girls hoops team

People from Long Beach love Long Beach. Natives may not be able to fully explain it to outsiders but one thing is clear: they love their city.

On Friday night the Long Beach Poly girl’s basketball team had one of its many opportunities this season to give back to the community and did so with an 82-58 Moore League win over Long Beach Millikan. In what could have been viewed as a dark hour for the program, the community stepped up and helped out. 

After Christmas, the Poly girls went to Florida for a tournament. After landing in South Florida, they stopped to grab a bite to eat before making the estimated 90-minute drive to Naples. 

Then, enter Long Beach. 

Earlier this week, the Long Beach Police Department came through with a check for $1,000. 

"It sends a big sense of pride and it lets (the players) know Long Beach will always be together," Long Beach Poly assistant coach LaKeisha Buggs said.

Naturally, there were some hurt feelings when the theft occurred.

"It was horrible," said sophomore forward Kathryn Headspeth, one of the players who had items stolen on the trip. "We were all mad. We just got there. (It) happened (within) five minutes (of us being there)."

But the incident didn’t deter the girls. It brought them closer together. The next day the team won its opener in the Naples Holiday Tournament and won two of three games before returning home on New Year’s Day.  

(The community) came and helped us and that’s how we give back to them. All we can do is ball out on the court for them.

-- Junior guard Da'Jah Jackson

Friday night, it was business as usual.

"(The community) came and helped us and that’s how we give back to them," junior guard Da’Jah Jackson said. "All we can do is ball out on the court for them."

The book is still being written on the Jackrabbits 2014-15 season. It will include a Redondo Battle of the Beach Tournament Championship, winning three out of four at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona, and the aforementioned two wins at the Naples Holiday Shootout in Florida while showing a tremendous amount of character by winning the day after having one of their rental vans broken into. Once the season is complete, the unfortunate incident in Florida will be looked upon as just "a small bump in the road" on the season. 

"We pushed through it," Long Beach Poly head coach Carl Buggs said. "Nobody got hurt. We got some of our stuff back. They caught the criminals, which is unheard of. I was just, actually, glad (the perpetrators) weren’t out there when we went out there. They looked pretty shabby. You never know what could’ve happen. Materialistic stuff can be replaced. The kids lives can’t. The fact that we have our health, we made it back safe, we’re still playing ball, we got some of our stuff back. We’re blessed."