Every week, I take a poll of my wife and me to see how many times we pronounce Windward High’s name correctly. It often lumps up with Westchester, Cleveland and L.A. Science.
I began referring to it as Windywood a year ago because it was a west side basketball city with such talent. Then, last fall, I started calling it Windward because of the changing fortunes of the girls’ team.
Well, the lady Wildcats have finally gotten under the power of Los Angeles City Section Coach of the Year Johnny Mathis, and it’s looking like they might be rolling toward a boys’ league title as well.
Last week, Windward defeated Birmingham, 67-64, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs. The Wildcats finally had enough scoring depth, depth in shooting and size to defeat the Patriots. Sophomore forward Juju Watkins had 17 points and tied a career high with 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Khalilah Williams hit four three-pointers and finished with 17 points. Senior center Jajah Williams finished with 16 points.
This time last year, Watkins was playing for Windward’s JV team. Her only varsity experience consisted of games against Harvard-Westlake. Now, she’s averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
“Juju is a three-year player who has great attitude,” Mathis said. “She is getting better, which is a natural by having those great players around her.”
The title is Windward’s second straight. Last year, it defeated Calabasas in overtime, 56-54. The Wildcats beat Harvard-Westlake, 52-49, in the championship game.
Now Watkins is trying to get her teammates and community supporters to get to and through the CIF State Division 2 regional playoffs.
“We’re definitely trying to score 100 points in the first game,” she said.
That’s pretty nice, Juju. You could be the best player in boys' basketball.