Saturday CIF Divisional Finals Highlights

Gardena Serra's Deandrea Toler drives around Richmond Salesian's Taylor Crowder during Saturday's CIF Division IV girls state final. Toler had 20 points in Serra's victory. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Gardena Serra’s Deandrea Toler drives around Richmond Salesian’s Taylor Crowder during Saturday’s CIF Division IV girls state final. Toler had 20 points in Serra’s victory. Photo: Willie Eashman.

It’s a SoCal sweep as Redondo boys, Lynwood girls, Pacific Hills boys and Gardena Serra girls all claim crowns. NorCal’s highlight was 35-point outing by Salesian’s Mariya Moore while Redondo coach Reggie Morris Jr. joins dad as a CIF state champ.

By Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis

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D2 Boys: Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 54, College Park (Pleasant Hill) 47

An emphatic alley-oop slam by sophomore center Jeremiah Headley with 39.3 seconds left sealed the state title win for the Seahawks, who were forced to play their best down the stretch by a College Park team that battled through the regional playoffs after losing in the CIF North Coast Section semifinals.

Redondo (28-8, ranked No. 18 overall in the state) won its first CIF state title in its first boys appearance and finished the season with a 21-game win streak. The school made it into the Division II final for girls in 2002, losing to St. Mary’s of Stockton.

Head coach Reggie Morris Jr. made more significant history, joining with his father, Reggie Morris Sr., as the first father and son to coach boys’ teams to CIF state crowns. The elder Morris won his title in 1988 at Manual Arts of Los Angeles in Division I.

“Getting to point where the guys bought in I keep referencing the same game,” said Morris, who is in his first season at Redondo after previous stints at Leuzinger of Lawndale and St. Bernard of Playa del Rey. “It was against Bishop Montgomery, they were undefeated at the time and nobody thought we had a chance in that game. We lost by two and we should have won that game. That’s where we turned it around, got wings underneath us and here we are.”

Unlike in College Park’s 93-90 overtime win over Dublin one week ago in the NorCal final, this game was completely different. The Falcons (27-6) were ahead 9-5 after the first quarter before falling behind 22-18 at halftime.

Jeremiah Headley of Redondo gets all ball on key blocked shot in the fourth quarter of team's D2 boys title game win over College Park. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Jeremiah Headley of Redondo gets all ball on key blocked shot in the fourth quarter of team’s D2 boys title game win over College Park. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Redondo’s inside strength with the 6-foot-6 Headley, 6-foot-7 senior Sebastian Lindner and others was too much for College Park to overcome, particularly in the second half. The closest the Falcons got in the fourth quarter was 45-38 with 1:30 left. They were out-rebounded in the game, 48-31.

“That’s a good defensive team and we didn’t knock them down tonight,” said College Park coach Craig Battle, whose team was held to its second lowest point total of the season. “We weren’t rebounding so we couldn’t get into our running game. I think the rebounding was the difference in the ballgame.”

Headley, who comes off the bench, led all scorers with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Redondo also had two more reach double figures in Ian Fox (11 points) and Derek Biale (10 points).

Both Mikey Eggleston and Joe DeMers hit shots in the fourth quarter to keep College Park in shouting distance. They both ended in double figures, too, with Eggleston scoring 14 and DeMers 13.

D2 Girls: Lynwood 39, St. Francis (Mountain View) 26

St. Francis knew it had to play a great game to pull off an upset and win its first state championship in girls’ basketball, but a scoring drought that lasted over a quarter and a half wasn’t what coach Brian Harrigan had in mind.

St. Francis (24-9) led 8-5 after a quarter, led 10-7 in the second quarter and then the drought began. Lynwood (29-5) went on 15-0 run that affectively put the game out of reach for St. Francis.

Jennifer Lucian of St. Francis ended the drought with a conventional 3-point play to make the score 22-13. That play came with 3:41 remaining in the third quarter.

“We knew coming in how quick and athletic they are,” Harrigan said. “We worked on 7-on-5 and 8-on-5 in practice all week, but you can’t simulate it. It’s just difficult when you see it on the court.”

The Lancers battled the rest of the way, but couldn’t convert their offensive looks at a high enough percentage (11-of-42 from the field) to offset the fact Lynwood did not make a single 3-pointer.

Lynwood’s trademark full-court pressure defense just didn’t allow St. Francis to get clean looks. It’s the style that made Lynwood a national power in the early 2000s under veteran coach Ellis Barfield.

“There are lessons learned in life and those other teams we had had their turn,” said Barfield, who captured his fourth state title and first since 2003. “Those seasons when we weren’t here were somebody else’s turn. These girls have been embracing the moment and the season.”

Junior guard Jazmine Johnson led the Knights with 11 points and was the team’s only double-digit scorer. Amber Blockmon, bound for Cal-State Northridge, dominated the interior with 13 rebounds and added eight points. Senior guard Nijala Johnson added eight points and seven steals.

Junior forward Lauren Johnson was St. Francis’ only double-digit scorer with 10 points.

Boys D4: Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 58, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 52

The two-time CIF Southern Section Division IV-A champions were, at times, sleep walking through this game. Pac Hills took ill-advised shots with the game close and often played like it was the better team — on paper.

The problem was, the CIF North Coast Section champions were playing the game with maximum effort. Cardinal Newman (32-4) took the lead at 46-45 with 5:02 remaining (its first lead since since the 4:35 mark of the second quarter) on two free throws by Kenny Love.

Pacific Hills (29-4) answered with a bank 3-pointer by Rice-bond guard Marcus Jackson to take a 48-46 lead. Newman’s energy, resourcefulness and the real threat it could pull off the upset seemed to wake up the Bruins in the final three minutes. They used a full-court press to force turnovers and convert high percentage shots when it counted most.

Washington-bound Jahmel Taylor’s lay-up made the score 50-46, then junior Namon Wright converted an acrobatic lay-in to make it a six-point game with 2:02 remaining. Taylor then came up with a steal in Newman’s backcourt and yet another lay-up and the Cardinals got no closer until they converted a lay-up at the final buzzer.

Pac Hills’ backcourt trio outscored the entire Cardinal Newman team, as Jackson (23 points), Wright (17) and Taylor (14) combined for 54 points.

Pacific Hills, which came into the game ranked No. 7 in the state, was one of the teams we felt could have been the eighth seed in the CIF’s SoCal Open Division. That position was left vacated, but in the end the Bruins earned the school’s second CIF state title by going through a tough group of teams in the SoCal Division IV bracket and a Cardinal Newman team that wouldn’t back down.

“We began working for this in September,” Taylor said. “Just talking CIF and talking state. At the end, Namon just got me going. Just pushing, pushing me.”

Senior guard Tim McCullough and senior forward Corey Hammel led the Cardinals with 14 points apiece.

“Except for one minute in the fourth quarter, they did what we hoped to do,” said Cardinal Newman coach Tom Bonfigli about his team. “They had players who are good enough to take advantage. I’m really proud of my team how they executed fundamentally. That’s a great team we just played and we played them on even terms.”

Pac Hills played the team with head coach Ivan Barahona one week after he was missing to serve as coach of the El Salvador national team.

“They gave me full support,” Barahona said of the situation. “They said, ‘It’s a dream of yours, go ahead.’ It seemed selfish of me at first, but we sat down as a group and saw how huge of an opportunity it was and for the school, too.”

Girls D4: Serra (Gardena) 62, Salesian (Richmond) 60

The Cavaliers made eight straight free throws in the fourth quarter and executed a pretty give-and-go layup by Deandrea Toler with a little more than one minute left to hold off the Pride.

Salesian (29-8) rallied from a 36-21 deficit with five minutes left in the third quarter and had the lead down to one point on three different occasions, the last at 52-51 with 2:06 remaining.

Serra (29-7) won its first-ever girls basketball state title, but the school won one earlier this fall in football and also has one from 2010 in boys basketball.

The Cavaliers also survived a record-breaking performance by Salesian junior Mariya Moore. The 6-foot forward, regarded as one of the top juniors in the nation, scored 35 points and set state title game records (all divisions) by making 17 of 20 free throws. She broke the previous bests of 15 free throws made and 17 attempts held respectively by Alexis Felts from Atherton Sacred Heart Prep (1994, D1) and Lisa Leslie from Inglewood Morningside (1990, D1).

“I wanted us to leave it all out on the floor,” Moore said. “I wanted my team to play with heart. I basically wanted to do whatever I could for the team, whether I was scoring or not.”

The Cavaliers raced out to their big lead mostly on the strength of a 10-0 run in the second quarter that turned a 17-14 deficit into a 24-17 lead.

Toler’s big bucket down the stretch helped her to score 20 points. She also had eight rebounds and three steals. Her senior guard runningmate, Siera Thompson, had an even stronger outing. She had a team-best 26 points with three steals and two assists.

“We’ve been blessed to have two of the best guards in the nation,” said Serra coach McKinsey Hadley. “It’s always a blessing when your two best players are also the hardest workers on the team. They left a legacy for the young ladies behind them. Big moments didn’t scare our seniors.”

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One Comment

  1. Cenne Carroll
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    The picture above regarding a Serra player going byba Salesian player is Taylor Crowder, not Mariya Moore

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