BEST SHOWING In the fifth-round game on Friday, they put up perhaps their best showing of the tournament, posting 210 for five to overcome Guyana by 86 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method. One of the keys for Jamaica will be the form of West Indies batting star Stafanie Taylor, who has already stroked two half-centuries in the tournament. Barbados, meanwhile, will see winning the final as the crowning of a great campaign over the last two weeks. They, too, suffered a second-round washout at Gilbert Park against Guyana and then proceeded to whip South Windwards by 126 runs after getting up to 212 for eight batting first at National Cricket Centre. The key to Barbados’ success has been their batting with opener Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin, Kyshona Knight, Malissa Howard and captain Shaquana Quintyne all getting half-centuries throughout the tournament. PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC): Defending champions Jamaica will take aim at their second straight title when they take on unbeaten Barbados in the final of the Regional Women’s Super50 today. The two topped the standings after the fifth preliminary round of the competition was completed Friday, and will now do battle at the National Cricket Centre for the honour of Caribbean women’s champions. Barbados were outstanding throughout the round robin phase, topping the standings with 18 points from three wins, with one tied game and one no-result. Jamaica, meanwhile, finished second in the standings on 16 points, after also winning three, but losing one and enduring one no-result. Today’s final will be a repeat of the first-round clash when Barbados prevailed over the Jamaicans by 32 runs. On that occasion, Jamaica were let down by their batting. Chasing a mere 173 for victory, the Jamaicans faltered badly and failed to get past 150. Their batting did not improve significantly afterward, even though they went on a winning streak to close out the preliminaries strongly. Following their abandoned game with South Windwards, they defended 148 to crush the lowly North Windwards by 16 runs in the third round before beating then leaders Trinidad and Tobago in a pivotal fourth-round game by 19 runs in Couva.
Brumfield, who takes pride in her defense, couldn’t help but chuckle at the rare blooper. Ever since seventh grade, around the time when Taja began playing travel ball for the Cal Sparks, basketball has been as much a part of her family’s life as attending church. Taja has gone from playing street basketball at Victoria Park to showcasing her skills on the travel-ball circuit to winning a CIF Southern Section Division I-AA title with the Jackrabbits in 2005 to finishing runner-up in the same game a year ago to bouncing back to win the Southern California Regional and CIF State Division I crowns. At 8:15 tonight at the Walter Pyramid, the 5-foot-11 senior forward will lead the Jackrabbits, the No. 2-ranked team in the country by USA Today and the No. 1 team in the state by Student Sports Magazine, against Brea Olinda (30-0), the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. On Tuesday, Taja Edwards scored 12 points to lead the Jackrabbits (30-1) past Bishop Amat in the semifinal and back to the finals, where they fell to Lynwood a year ago. Taja, who played a very limited role in the Jackrabbits’ 2006 championship campaign, tore her ACL during summer travel ball. Often times, Brett, Taja and her teammates analyze footage, breaking down Jackrabbit performances. On Sunday night, they had a good laugh about how Brittany Brumfield turned the wrong direction to defend a La Jolla Country Day player on an opening tip, and the player scored an uncontested layup in a game the Jackrabbits won earlier this season. CARSON – The tile in their cozy family room will remind you of the parquet floor of the old Boston Garden. Only this one is a rust color and is well-polished with no dead spots. This is where Taja Edwards of Poly High, with her parents Brett and Cynthia, retreat to spend hours going over basketball game film on their big, black mega-screen television. The pain went beyond her knee, as Pac-10 and other Division I college programs backed away from offering scholarships. This past summer, however, Taja, who has been listed as one of the top players in the country by Street&Smith magazine in 2006 and 2007, proved to scouts that her knee was fine, and she signed with Fresno State earlier this year. “I can deal with life. I was more concerned about her feelings,” Brett Edwards said. “My thing was to encourage her, to try to put things into perspective. The big-time schools that were recruiting her, it’s their loss. (They) couldn’t see past the brace she had on. … I knew her work ethic, how hard she worked to get back to where she is right now. She reached her goal, which was to get a free education.” Brett and Cynthia caught basketball fever when Taja dropped out of the youth church choir and gave up the piano. “I stopped going to choir practices. I started taking basketball more seriously,” Taja said. “I don’t play piano that much anymore. I had a keyboard that sat in my room. I thought about (playing), but I was so tired from basketball practice. So I gave up my music for a pair of Nikes.” Today, for five months each year, Taja, her parents, and her sister Alaja live on the road, traveling throughout California and the country. Travel ball fees run from $1,400-$2,200. Meals are not included. “If we had to pay for it, we wanted her to be 100 percent (committed),” Brett said. “If not, she could play (in the park) where it’s free.” Brett, an electrician, and Cynthia, an accountant, may not have signed up for the entire travel-ball experience, but gradually became consumed by it. Brett is an assistant coach, and Cynthia organizes everything from fund-raisers and to travel accommodations for the girls as they showcase their skills for hundreds of college recruiters and evaluators at events across the country. “You prioritize your life,” Cynthia said. “Sometimes, I’d wake up in another state, and (think) `Wow! I’ve used up all my vacation time to come babysit.’ Then I would get them up and get them together. I love the mentoring part of it.” Earl Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (562) 499-1338. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!