Column: Windward’s Skye Belker is holding court these days, indoor and outdoor

Princeton-bound senior guard Skye Belker of Los Angeles Windward High has received approval to miss her team’s basketball game on Monday in the Redondo Union tournament. She’s not sick, she’s not injured, she’s not going back east on a recruiting trip.

She will be competing in the Southern Section individual tennis championships in Carpinteria. She went 29-0 in the regular season. If she’s successful on Monday, more games could be missed this week.

Basketball coach Jerica Williams has given Belker the equivalent of a doctor’s note, endorsing her decision to finish competing in a sport that she has loved since hitting her first tennis ball at age 4.

“It’s bigger than basketball,” Williams said. “She’s worked hard in both sports. What kind of coach would I be if I said, ‘Commit to this one’?”

Belker began her basketball season last week with a 22-point performance against Studio City Harvard-Westlake. She has a 4.25 grade-point average and is almost automatic on open three-point shots. She’s been doing a balancing act the last couple of weeks between tennis and basketball.

“During our school block periods, I play tennis my free period,” she said. “During weekends, I play tennis and basketball.”

She chose basketball to be her college sport because “it’s a fun team sport.”

Her final tennis matches this week will be a time to reminisce.

Tennis has helped her basketball skills, improving her agility, mental toughness and footwork.

Williams, in her first season at Windward, is hoping to bring out the best in Belker on the basketball court.

“I’ve only seen her a short period of time, but she’s definitely special and one of the hardest workers,” Williams said. “The focus on her is to allow her to play free, get her teammates involved and get her ready to play at the next level.”

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Belker, who was a teammate of Juju Watkins at Windward and played under WNBA coach Vanessa Nygaard, said Williams has already made an impact on players.

“I love she’s really organized and has a great fire that brings out the best in us,” Belker said.

Will pupil and coach ever play a tennis match?

“She’d run circles around me,” Williams said.

The Southern Section‘s competitive equity football playoffs sure didn’t pan out as competitive in the Division 1 semifinals on Friday night, with Santa Ana Mater Dei winning 52-0 over a good Los Alamitos team and Bellflower St. John Bosco cruising to a 41-6 win over a good Mission Viejo team. In other words, let the debate begin over why nine teams were put in a Division 1 bracket that clearly should have had only two and at the most four if competitive equity was the mission.

So now we get the great rematch of Mater Dei (12-0) vs. St. John Bosco (11-1) at the Rose Bowl on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Mater Dei won the first game 17-7 on Oct. 7. Not much has changed. It’s two great defenses going at it. Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown is an astounding 29-0 as a high school quarterback.

Division 2 is another intriguing final matching unbeaten Inglewood (13-0) against surging Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (9-4) at Sierra Canyon on Saturday. Can Inglewood stop Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunn? Can Sierra Canyon deal with 6-foot-5, 250-pound receiver and wildcat quarterback Jamari Johnson?

There will be 14 Southern Section championship games and four City Section football title games this coming weekend. Then the regional bowl games take place, followed by the state finals on Dec. 9-10. It’s the final three weeks of the football season. We’ll see how much drama can be produced.

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