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Bishop's senior longs for taste of title

12/09/2013, 3:00pm PST
By Terry Monahan, Special to the U-T

Imani Littleton seeks San Diego Section championship before heading off to St. John's.


Bishop's senior Imani Littleton averaged 21.8 points and 10.7 rebounds for the Knights last season.

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The first time Imani Littleton played in an organized girls basketball game, she spent the whole time in a standstill.

Literally.

“I just stood in the middle of the court,” the 6-foot-3 senior forward at The Bishop’s School said with a laugh. “I was the tallest player in the game and I just stood there. I know I didn’t score a point.

“That’s my dad’s favorite story about my athletic career.”

Littleton is still in the middle of things, but in a more productive way.

As she enters her fourth season on the Knights varsity, Littleton has been the No. 1 scoring threat since she opened her freshman year with a 10.1 average, fourth-best on the team.

She followed that by averaging 20 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore and 21.8 points and 10.7 rebounds last season as a junior.

She was the top scorer the last two years.

“As a freshman, she was ready to go,” Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells said. “She was athletic, long, good skills, not like most freshmen.

“Every time she turns it on in a game, she is really special. Against better competition, she does that.

“I wish she’d turn it on all the time because she’s worth watching when she does that.”

Worth watching so much that Littleton will play next year at St. John’s University, picking the Red Storm over Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M, TCU and Oregon.

When Littleton first tried basketball in sixth grade, she wound up quitting because she did not like the sport.

Two years later, the La Mesa resident was back in the game and this time she stayed.

However, one thing has eluded Littleton at Bishop’s. Just one time she’d like to experience winning a San Diego Section championship.

But in each of her first three seasons, Bishop’s has lost the Division IV championship game to rival La Jolla Country Day.

In fact, the Torreys have downed the Knights nine times in the finals over the last 11 years.

When this year’s new playoff system was announced, Bishop’s was assigned to the newly created Open Division. But so was La Jolla Country Day.

“It has gotten very old,” Littleton said. “Country Day keeps getting in the way.

Bishop’s might have a chance to break LJCD’s hex this season, judging by last week’s outcome in the Sweet 16 Tournament. The Knights defeated the Torreys 70-34 in the first of what promises to be several meetings between the teams before the end of March.

“I thought we had a chance last year, but they beat us again,” Littleton said. “I just want to win once. If we win this year, I’ll show some emotion that day.”

Bishop’s, which won the Sweet 16 Tournament title, is ranked No. 1 in the section.

Watching Littleton play the game it is impossible to determine if her team is winning or losing or if she’s playing well or having an off day.

That same expressionless look is what marks her game.

“That’s just me all the time,” Littleton said. “Some people think I don’t want to play because of the look on my face.

“I just continue playing and not let anything that anyone says get to me.”

But she’s certainly not just standing there anymore.

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