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Local girls' basketball team looks for 2nd straight championship

February 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Windward Wildcats have an overwhelming pressure and talent that leaves some girl's high school basketball teams at a loss for words.

After hanging a state championship banner last year, the Windward Wildcats are running teams off the floor in 2012.

"For me, it's the best team we've ever had here at Windward in girls' basketball," said head coach Steve Smith.

There are fewer than 400 high school students at Windward and because of that, the Wildcats have always had to deal with the dreaded small-school label and a legion of doubters.

"You win some games, you may win a state championship, but then it's, 'Oh they're only division 4, let them come up to division 1, let them come to division 2,'" said Smith.

So this season, Windward has done that. They've beaten powerhouses like Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly. The Wildcats have seven wins over nationally ranked teams, good enough to earn Windward the No. 1 ranking in California and as high as No. 3 in one national poll.

"We played extremely hard to get that respect and even though people talk a lot of, you know, mess about us, we still keep out composure and try not to let that bother us. And that's actually, like, our motivation," said player Jordin Canada.

Smith has been an assistant in the WNBA and he might have a couple of future pros on his talented Windward roster, including Imani Stafford who stands at 6 feet 7 inches tall.

Stafford's mom is former USC great Pam McGee and her brother is Washington Wizards big man JaVale McGee.

"Being from a big basketball family, the expectations is really, very high for me. Like people, before I even get on the court, they know who my family is, so when I get on the court, they're expecting amazing," Stafford said.

It was announced Friday that Stafford has been chosen to play on the McDonald's High School Basketball All-American Team.

Stafford and her Windward teammates have been nothing short of amazing this season, one they hope to cap with their second-straight state championship.