Loyola Makes Big Statement

Loyola's Khalil Bedart-Ghani looks for an opening in the UA Holiday Classic National Division  title game versus Corona Centennial. Photo: Andrew Drennen

Loyola’s Khalil Bedart-Ghani looks for an opening in the UA Holiday Classic National Division title game versus Corona Centennial. Loyola won to improve to 12-0 on the season. Photo: Andrew Drennen

State No. 4 Loyola of Los Angeles wins the boys basketball National Division of the UA Holiday Classic in Del Mar with an easy win over No. 5 Corona Centennial. Other teams that perform well include underclass-dominated Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello. Malik Marquetti of Long Beach Millikan commits to USC. 

RELATED: UA Holiday Classic National Coverage | Semifinal Recaps | Top Performers 

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In a battle of Student Sports FAB 50-ranked Southern California clubs, Centennial of Corona head coach Josh Giles figured his guard-oriented team would have to shoot a high percentage and speed up the game in order to defeat Loyola of Los Angeles in the National Division championship game of the Under Armour Holiday Classic in Del Mar, Calif. on Monday night.

It didn’t happen.

Giles’ club wasn’t able to successfully accomplish either pre-game goal as Loyola used its superior balance and depth to defeat Centennial, 78-57.

Loyola captured its first ever National Division championship in the 24-year history of the event. Loyola also became the first CIF Southern Section program to win the title since Long Beach Poly in 2010.

Arizona-bound bound guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright finished with 15 points and seven assists and helped Loyola, which came into the tournament ranked No. 21 in the Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings, jump out to a quick double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter. He and junior guard Max Hazzard converted back-to-back lay-ups to give the Cubs a 21-11 lead entering the second period.

The score was 36-26 at halftime with Loyola in complete control. If it weren’t for all-tournament selections Sedrick Barefield and Deontae North, Centennial would have been completely blown out. The backcourt duo scored 24 of Centennial’s 26 points in the first half. The Huskies simply didn’t get enough contributions from other players to stay within striking range in the second half. Centennial, which entered the game with its only loss to FAB 50 No. 7 and state No. 2 Etiwanda, was outscored 25-15 in the third quarter and the game was basically over at that point.

Loyola’s defensive length and the presence of 7-foot UCLA-bound center Thomas Welsh clearly bothered Centennial’s shooting around the rim and the Huskies couldn’t get anyone going from the outside besides Barefield (15 points) and the Long Beach State-bound North (27 points). North’s shooting was offset by the inside dominance of Welsh, who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.

Hazzard, one of the fast-rising juniors in the state, was named National Division MVP after averaging 22.8 ppg in Loyola’s four victories.

With the victory, FAB 50 No. 21 Loyola won its third holiday tournament and moved to 12-0 on the season. Furthermore, what the relatively easy win over a Centennial team that came in ranked No. 36 nationally showed is that it’s going to take a complete all-around team performance to knock off the Cubs in the first-ever CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.

Etiwanda Loses McLaughlin At Maxpreps Holiday Classic

Loyola is set to move up to No. 2 in the next set of state rankings behind Mater Dei of Santa Ana, provided it can defeat No. 11 Compton on Saturday, after second-ranked Etiwanda was upset in the Maxpreps Holiday Open Division in Rancho Mirage on December 27 by state No. 13 Capital Christian of Sacramento. Early in that 48-42 loss, USC-bound guard Jordan McLaughlin reportedly suffered a dislocated shoulder in a game we witnessed and did not return.

Early reports have the all-state guard sitting out at least a month, but that has yet to be confirmed by Cal-Hi Sports. The Eagles also lost their next game without McLaughlin 43-40 to St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio. We’ll know more about McLaughlin’s status after the Jordan Take Flight Challenge at Redondo Union on Saturday.

Long Beach Poly Roller-Coaster at Maxpreps Holiday Classic

One day after a thrilling 90-89 double-overtime victory over FAB50-ranked Wenonah (Birmingham, Ala.) in which senior guard Kameron Murrell scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes, the Jackrabbits had a letdown in the open division semifinals against Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.), losing 53-52 on a last-second 3-point shot in overtime.

Jackson beat Capital Christian, 54-45, to become first non-California team ever to win the event’s major division title. Capital Christian upset state No. 8 Westchester in the semifinals, 47-43.

Westchester’s Ed Azzam Ties Willie West

The Comets’ semifinal loss to Capital Christian not only knocked off the defending tournament champion, it meant longtime Westchester head coach Ed Azzam was not going to surpass the legendary Willie West as the all-time coaching wins leader in L.A. City Section history while playing in the Coachella Valley.

Westchester won two games at the event on the same day and beat Long Beach Poly for third place, 68-65. It was Westchester’s second win over Poly and gave Azzam 803 career victories since taking over as the head coach at Westchester for the 1980-1981 season. According to the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book, West compiled a 803-140 mark between 1971 and 2007, not to mention eight CIF state titles.

Westchester is scheduled to play its next game against Sheldon of Sacramento on January 11 at Cerritos College. There’s a good possibility Azzam will surpass the California prep coaching icon in career wins.

Millikan Wing Chooses USC

Last season, 6-foot-5 Malik Marquetti of Long Beach Millikan wasn’t even an all-Moore League performer. Last summer, he was stuck on the bench of his traveling team. During the UA Holiday Classic, Marquetti announced he’ll accept a scholarship to USC.

After a series of sensational fall league performances, and some networking with college coaches by grassroots coach and mentor Rick Isaacs, Marquetti was courted by the likes of UTEP, UC-Irvine, LMU and eventually the Trojans. The day after tweaking his ankle in a bad loss to eventual UA Holiday Classic American Division champ Mater Dei (Chula Vista), Marquetti gave a verbal to USC.

No California player in recent memory has risen as fast as a player, and prospect, as the Rams’ athletic wing. He’s had several 20-point performances for a team that hopes to challenge Long Beach Poly and Compton in the Moore League. On a national level, the NBA’s Anthony Davis is the last player we recall having a meteoric rise like Marquetti’s, but even before his growth spurt, Davis (who led Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA title) had an offer from Cleveland State. Marquetti wasn’t even known last spring by the colleges that recruited him this fall and winter.

Sierra Canyon, Cantwell Sacred Heart Impress

Led by lightening quick sophomore guard Devearl Ramsey and freshmen forwards Cody Riley and Ira Lee, Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth showed why its a viable CIFSS Open Division contender despite its youth.

With its 60-50 victory over Chino Hills for third place in the UA Holiday Classic National Division, Sierra Canyon will enter 2014 with a 13-1 mark. Ramsey scored 15 points, dished out eight assists and played hard-nosed defense on Chino Hills sophomore sensation Lonzo Ball in the victory.

Sierra Canyon’s big win at the event came in the quarterfinals when Ramsey and Riley combined for 46 points in a 70-65 win over state No. 3 Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, which lost twice at the event after losing in the finals of the Tarkanian Classic to state No. 1 Mater Dei. Sierra Canyon lost in the semifinals to eventual National Division champion Loyola.

State No. 14 Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello drew a tough opener in the National Division and fell to eventual runner-up Corona Centennial, 71-65. The Cardinals bounced back to beat host Torrey Pines, 68-67, in overtime to win the National Consolation title as senior guard Joey Covarrubias netted 23 points. Cantwell Sacred Heart and beat Newark Memorial, 56-55, in overtime and state No. 10 Mayfair of Lakewood, 73-61, after the loss to Centennial.

Cantwell’s only other loss so far this season was by three points to Loyola at the Beverly Hills Tournament. Loyola beat Corona Centennial in the National Division title game by 21 points.

“It’s more a pride thing with us,” Covarrubias said. “People doubt Cantwell so we wanted to pick it up after our first loss (in the tournament) to Centennial.”

UA Holiday Classic All-Tourney Team

Bryce Aikens (The Parick School, Elizabeth, N.J.) 5-9 G 2016
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills) 6-4 G 2016
Sedrick Barefield (Centennial, Corona) 6-1 G 2015
Iman Chatman (Mater Dei, Chula Vista) 6-2 G 2014 (American Div. MVP)
Joey Covarrubias (Cantwell Sacred-Heart, Montebello) 6-1 G 2014
Jaylen Hands (Mater Dei, Chula Vista) 5-11 G 2017 (American Div.)
Max Hazzard (Loyola, Los Angeles) 5-10 G 2015 (National Division MVP)
Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Loyola, Los Angeles) 5-9 G 2014
Tommy McCarthy (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad) 6-0 G 2015 (American Div.)
Deontae North (Centennial, Corona) 6-5 G 2014
Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-10 C 2015
Devearl Ramsey (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 5-10 G 2016
Kendall Small (Mayfair, Lakewood) 5-11 G 2015
Tom Welsh (Loyola, Los Angeles) 7-0 C 2014
Sam Worman (Torrey Pines, San Diego) 6-5 F 2014

For more national coverage of the UA Holiday Classic and more details of the National Division championship and semifinal games, please visit StudentSportsBasketball.com

Related Photo Galleries From UA Holiday Classic: Westtown vs. Newark Memorial | More From UA Holiday Classic | St. Augustine vs Chino Hills | Bishop O’Dowd vs O’Dea | Cantwell Sacred Heart vs Corona Centennial | Cantwell Sacred Heart vs Newark Memorial | Bishop O’Dowd vs Sierra Canyon | Corona Centennial vs Westtown | Wesleyan Christian vs Chino Hills | Bishop O’Dowd vs The Patrick School Loyola vs Sierra Canyon | Corona Centennial vs Chino Hills  

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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  1. […] and the No. 14 player in the state, though that number is subject to change as the year progresses. As CalHiSports notes, he wasn’t much of a factor for Long Beach Milikan or his travel team in the past, but that […]

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