Big winners include Bishop O’Dowd, Monte Vista of Danville, Folsom, Drake of San Anselmo, Moreau of Hayward and St. Joseph Notre Dame. North Coast Section wins five of the six titles this year with only Folsom crashing the party. Look for our CIF state finals’ predictions on Monday.
(We had Mark Tennis, Harold Abend and photog Willie Eashman in Sacramento and Paul Muyskens at American Canyon)
Note: For expanded State Top 20 rankings plus the next divisional state rankings, please check out a Gold Club membership. It’s less than $2 per month and some of our all-state lists in a few weeks also will be for Gold Club members only. For info, CLICK HERE.
OPEN DIVISION NORTH
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 70, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 60
The Dragons will take another shot at that elusive first CIF state title since 1981 after topping the Cougars. For Mark Tennis’ recap, CLICK HERE.
DIVISION I NORTH
Monte Vista (Danville) 59, vs. Freedom (Oakley) 51 (OT)
After Freedom’s Elliot Smith canned a bank shot from 28 feet out at the regulation horn to send the game into overtime, the Mustangs executed down the stretch to win the program’s first NorCal crown.
Grant Jackson made two baskets, including one 3-pointer, and Brendan Pedley also hit a clutch shot to allow Monte Vista to gain some traction. Two blocked shots by Spencer Rust also were critical.
Often in such circumstances, the team that hits an improbable shot like that has all the momentum in the world.
“I just told them to go out and relax and do our stuff,” said Monte Vista head coach Nick Jones. “We tried to keep it positive. I don’t think we could have played it any tougher on them on that shot.”
Monte Vista improved to 31-1 with its only loss coming in overtime to San Ramon Valley of Danville, a loss that was later avenged.
“We’ve played them five times in two years so we feel like we know them well,” said Freedom coach Drew Torres. “You just have to give them credit for how they played in overtime.”
Freedom trailed 25-20 at halftime and came out strong on the third quarter, taking the lead at one point, and then trailing 36-33 entering the fourth period. Smith, who was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points, and Rodney Pope (12 points) fueled the comeback.
Monte Vista had about as balanced an attack as it gets. Jackson had 14 points and four steals, Pedley had 13 points and six rebounds, Trevor John had 12 points, Rishi Satoor had 12 points while Rust had eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
DIVISION II NORTH
Folsom 68, Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove) 51
After the Bulldogs escaped with a one-point win in their regional semifinal game against Serra of San Mateo, they found the familiarity of playing Cosumnes Oaks again to be a big help in a return to the impressive play they’ve been at in recent weeks.
Folsom (32-2), ranked No. 14 overall in the state coming into the week, steadily pulled away from the Wolfpack, which was the same team they defeated two weeks ago in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final.
“We went back to being more composed, more relaxed,” said Folsom head coach Mike Wall. “That was the theme of the pre-game and playing them against made it easy to do that. We stayed in the moment and executed the game plan.”
Cosumnes Oaks head coach Patrick Roth and many of the players were relaxed and goofy after losing a regional final, but they know they played a strong opponent and survived a tough road just to get this far. In fact, if it weren’t for a missed buzzer-beater at St. Mary’s of Stockton in the section quarterfinals, the season would have been over almost one month ago.
Sophomore point guard Jordan Ford was again the catalyst for Folsom. He led all scorers with 20 points and continually set up teammates for easy baskets, although officially he wasn’t shown with any assists.
In next week’s CIF D2 state final against St. John Bosco, Ford is well aware that Bosco junior point guard Tyler Dorsey is one of the highest-ranked juniors in the nation.
“I’ve heard he’s one of the best and I know that it could be big for me,” Ford said. “I will just try to prove myself and not do it so that it might hurt the team.”
Jared Wall, the son of Mike Wall, contributed 11 points off the bench for Folsom. He did it after suffering a nasty gash on his chin.
Cosumnes Oaks had three players who had strong games. UCLA football recruit Alex Van Dyke battled foul trouble (he picked up three in the first half) but still led the Wolfpack with 14 points. L.J. Reed, who also will be a major college football recruit next year, had 13 and Jaaron Stallworth 11.
DIVISION III NORTH
Drake (San Anselmo) 54, Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 49
Despite a streak of 19 straight points in a row to give Drake of San Anselmo a big lead in the first half, the Pirates had to hold on late to defeat Archbishop Riordan in the final game of the night at American Canyon.
Trailing late in the first quarter 12-8, the Pirates scored the final bucket of the first quarter and then scored the first 17 points of the second quarter to open up a 27-12 lead before the Crusaders got their lone four points of the quarter in the final 33 seconds by Chiefy Ugbaja.
Continuing that late momentum from the first half into the second half, Riordan went on a 19-4 run to turn a once 15-point deficit into a 31-31 game with 2:19 left in the third quarter after a Jiday Ugbaja layup. Jiday, who scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half, combined with his cousin for most of the Crusaders’ points. Chiefy also finished with 21 points along with nine rebounds.
With the game tied at 43, the Pirates converted back-to-back baskets by Sam Dines and Cade Yongue for a 49-45 lead with 1:37 remaining which they wouldn’t surrender.
“We were stuck on 12 for a long time,” said Crusaders’ coach Rich Buckner after the game. “We couldn’t figure out the zone. Our guys fought and fought until the end. We have turned the corner the last two years and the future looks bright.”
Jasper Verduin who finished with a game-high 23 points for Drake and seemed to take over when they needed some big baskets in the fourth quarter. “They were pressing and I was deep and my teammates just found me,” said Verduin about a key stretch in the fourth quarter that saw him score five straight points for the Pirates.
Drake has not won a CIF state title since its famed 34-0 squad of 1982 defeated Banning. The Pirates made it to the 1994 D4 final and lost to Lincoln of San Diego.
DIVISION IV NORTH
Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 60, Salesian (Richmond) 52
Not only did Moreau Catholic of Hayward make history by ending Salesian’s three-year run at the top of the NCS Division IV with a 73-68 win in the section finals but the Mariners will now be headed to play for a state title.
With no seniors and just one junior, the young Mariners took control of the game in the second quarter as they turned a 12-7 deficit after one quarter into a 25-19 halftime lead that they would extend to 18.
“They defended us well and started to take things away from us in the second quarter,” said Pride head coach Bill Mellis. “They started to trap us more and we missed way to many easy shots.”
Freshman Damari Milstead was one of four Mariners in double figures as he scored 15 points. Jonathan Galloway had a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds in the loss for the Pride.
“What these kids have accomplished is remarkable,” said Moreau Catholic head coach Frank Knight who made sure everyone in the press conference after the game was aware that his team was without any seniors.
“We travel heavy,” said Knight about the crowd that was heavily in the Mariners side. “We already have a rooter’s bus in the works for state.”
“It’s great to be part of history,” added sophomore Brandon Lawrence after his 15-point performance.
DIVISION V NORTH
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 54, Central Catholic (Modesto) 42
In a matchup of the top two seeds in the NorCal D5 bracket, it was Central Catholic that entered the game against St. Joseph’s of Notre Dame as the top seed because of a big 68-52 road win early in the season, but it was the Pilots who won the game that meant the most as they will be headed to Sacramento next week to play for a state title.
With the game tied at 11 after one quarter, the Raiders scored the first basket of the second quarter to take a 13-11 lead before the Pilots turned on the afterburners and ended the half on a 18-0 run for a 29-13 lead at halftime.
That run would become 20 straight points before the Raiders finally broke a span of 8:32 without scoring a point. Thanks to some missed free throws, the Raiders were able to cut the defict eventually all the way down to seven in the final minute.
“We shot way to many threes the last time we faced them and we made an effort to attack the paint,” said head coach Don Lippi, whose team won its fourth straight NorCal title. “This is one my top three favorite teams. I talk about level 9 defense and this is when you want to have it.”
Temidayo Yussuf dominated down low as he scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Pilots. “We had the mindset that we had to out-rebound them and be more aggressive,” said Yussuf after the game. “We had to be the tougher team after not being the tougher team the last time we played them.”
“He is one of the best big men in the bay area, “said Lippi about Yussuf.
After missing the previous matchup between the two teams because of a hand injury, Esteban Lovato came up big for the Pilots with 16 points while going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
During the post game press conference, Lippi talked about how he had a picture framed and put in the gym of their reaction after last season’s 47-46 last-second loss in the state finals against Horizon of San Diego to help motivate his team to not have that happen again this season. The Pilots will have a chance to take a much happier posed photo next week if they can defeat Renaissance Academy of La Canada.