Go inside here for highlights from some of the biggest boys and girls basketball section championship games from across the state, including monster wins by Windward girls and Monte Vista boys. We’ll also break down any developments relating to projected top seeds for next week’s NorCal & SoCal regional playoffs, including the Open Division.
(Thanks to Harold Abend for covering the North Coast Section games at St. Mary’s College)
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GIRLS: Windward plasters Mater Dei
With All-America guard and leading Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year candidate Jordin Canada leading the way, Windward of Los Angeles rolled past Mater Dei of Santa Ana 61-46 in a matchup of the top two ranked teams in the state to win the first CIF Southern Section Open Division title.
Last year, the Wildcats beat the Monarchs in the first CIF Southern California Open Division regional final. And despite the loss, Mater Dei still should receive the No. 2 seed behind Windward in next week’s Open Division playoffs for Southern California.
In Friday’s game at Azusa Pacific, Windward (26-2) took control early and shockingly raced to a 43-16 lead. The Monarchs fell to 26-2 with their only other loss coming to St. Mary’s of Berkeley after they had won the top division at the Nike TOC and West Coast Jamboree.
According to Steve Galluzzo of the Los Angeles Times, Canada had 14 points and nine assists. Four of her teammates all scored almost the same total – Kristen Simon with 15, Macchi Smith with 14 and Chelsey Gipson with 15. Junior sharpshooter Katie Lou Samuelson of Mater Dei was off her game but led the Monarchs with 14 points.
BOYS: Monte Vista caps run to NCS title; team voting about next week
Cal-Poly-bound Trevor John scored a game high 20 points to lead Monte Vista of Danville (28-1) to its third North Coast Section title and first since 2009 with a 57-41 win over Freedom of Oakley.
Grant Jackson added 12 points with 10 coming in a third quarter that saw the Mustangs take control and extend a 25-22 halftime lead to 43-31 after three quarters, and then to 50-31 early in the final period.
Rodney Strong led Freedom (24-6) with 16 points. Both teams will advance to the CIF Northern Regional playoffs with Freedom going to Division I and Monte Vista deciding on Saturday morning whether it will ask to be moved up to the Open Division.
“I’m going to let the players decide. We’ll vote tomorrow morning,” said Monte Vista head coach Nick Jones, who won an NCS Division I title in 2011 at Castro Valley.
It’s going to be an interesting vote.
On one hand, despite all the team has accomplished, it’s hard to envision a challenge to nationally ranked Mater Dei in the Open Division at the state level, but the Mustangs may want the challenge and also take a possible shot at NorCal No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd (which doesn’t play its section final until Saturday).
On the other hand, Monte Vista would be the No. 1 seed for NorCal in Division I and its chances to eventually earn a state title in that division would be much greater.
There also is a boys team in the south that also would have to petition for the Open Division and that’s Chino Hills, which is playing Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Open Division final on Saturday night. Maybe both will stay in D1 and then play each other in three weeks? That would be fun.
Note: Monte Vista conducted its vote on Saturday morning and announced on its twitter page that it would NOT be seeking to play in the NorCal Open Division. That also would seem to assure a No. 1 seed for the NorCal Division I playoffs.
MORE BOYS SCORES THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION
Modesto Christian 61, Fairfield 50
Sac-Joaquin Section D3 final. The Crusaders won their 16th section crown since head coach Gary Porter (who is retiring) took over the program in 1997. They are now tied with Crenshaw of Los Angeles on the all-time state list.
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 66, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 62
This was the consolation bracket final for the CIFSS Open Division. We saw it also as a battle to see which would be No. 1 seed for the south in Division IV. Both teams are strong enough to be Open Division in the north (Sierra Canyon has a win over O’Dowd) but neither will be Open Division in the south because there is a limit of just four from the Southern Section that can move up.
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 68, Serra (San Mateo) 60
Sophomore Ben Kone led the Monarchs with 26 points and 16 rebounds as they won their second straight Central Coast Section Open Division title. They have a loss to Monte Vista, but because they won the NorCal Open Division title last year they are eligible to be moved up again and they will be moved up. Monte Vista isn’t eligible because of its track record from the last four seasons. If the Open Division concept is continued, we see the CIF perhaps adding a piece of the criteria that any section champion that is unbeaten or has just one or two losses (something like that) can be taken up.
Kearny (San Diego) 73, Sweetwater (National City) 58
This was the CIF San Diego Section D3 final and it marked the first loss of the season for the Red Devils, who were 28-0. With Buckley of Sherman Oaks also falling from the ranks of the unbeaten with its loss to JSerra of San Juan Capistrano, Mater Dei is now the state’s only unbeaten boys team. The Komets are now 25-2 and should be a No. 3 or No. 4 seed for the SoCal D3 bracket.
MORE GIRLS SCORES THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION
Deer Valley (Antioch) 57, Berkeley 47
The Wolverines (25-5) sprinted out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back en route to winning their second NCS title. Senior guard Sierra Dixon led three girls in double-figure scoring with 15 points on four three-pointers. Although she only scored five points, senior Alejandra Cephas pulled down 16 rebounds to lead a 43-26 advantage on the boards for Deer Valley. Berkeley (21-8) got 18 points from Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman and 14 points from University of Pacific-bound Desire Finnie but the rest of the team was ice cold and Finnie was saddled with foul trouble all game with nine of her points coming in the fourth quarter when the game was all but decided. “Two years ago we were in this game and Berkeley put a 32-point whipping on us,” Deer Valley head coach Mark Hurtado remarked. “The difference this time was we came out with defensive intensity and our seniors really stepped it up.”
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 56, Sacred Heart Cathedral (S.F.) 36
With standout GeAnna Summers-Luaulu out with an injury, the Irish were no match for their arch-rivals from the West Catholic Athletic League in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final at Santa Clara. Josie Little stepped it up for the victors with 10 points and 20 rebounds. With the win, St. Ignatius becomes a candidate to be brought up to the NorCal Open Division. The team is eligible, but does have a head-to-head loss to Sac-Joaquin Section D5 champion Brookside Christian. Sacred Heart Cathedral also is eligible but the margin of defeat and the health status of the team make it questionable that the selection committee will choose the Irish for the Open Division.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark, Ronnie Flores and Harold Abend on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports