Village Christian takes 4-A title

Village Christian of Sun Valley wins boys CIFSS Div. 4-A title with victory over Windward of Los Angeles. The Crusaders enter the regional playoffs on a 10-game winning streak since a loss to state No. 1 Mater Dei and is a viable contender for the Division IV state title. 

Nothing, not even a flat tire on the bus ride over to the game, was going to deny the Village Christian of Sun Valley boys basketball team a CIF Southern Section title.

The No. 1 seeded Crusaders overcame a late arrival, and a talented Windward of Los Angeles unit, to capture the CIFSS Division 4-A title with a 71-67 victory on Saturday afternoon at Godinez High School in Santa Ana. It was the program’s first section title in boys basketball.

Village Christian is peaking heading into the SoCal regionals after having to overcome injury and personnel issues during the regular season. Village Christian will be gunning for its second state title in four years when the regional opens this week. The Crusaders won the Division V state title in
2012, but did not win a section title that season.

“Our team showed great resilience,” Village Christian coach Jon Shaw said. “We played collectively together and all season long its been phenomenal. The kids have played for each other.”

Village Christian (26-4) jumped out to a 16-5 lead after one quarter as Windward (22-9) didn’t shoot well from the field. The Wildcats missed their first 10 field goal attempts and went 2-of-15 from the field in that opening period. Windward clawed it way back into the game as an underclass-dominated group was trying to hand outgoing coach Miguel Villegas his second section title. He won the CIFSS Div. 5-A title in 2009 and went on to capture the Division V state title that season.

“I knew it was going to be a street fight because Windward is a good team and tough,” Shaw said.

Windward stormed back to take a 38-37 lead with 2:59 remaining in the third period to cap a 10-0 run. Village Christian regained control in the fourth period, mainly behind its free throw shooting. Razhaun “Bear” Henderson made two free throws with under 15 seconds remaining to give Village Christian a 69-63 lead and Bryan Alberts made two with .4 seconds to go after Windward’s Jaylen Harris knocked down a 3-pointer to seal the championship for the Crusaders.

Henderson scored a team-high 17 points while Alberts and junior Bennie Boatwright added 16 points apiece. Boatwright also had 13 rebounds and made all 10 of his free throws attempts. As a team, Village Christian made 23-of-29 while Windward made 16-of-25.

Sophomore forward Breland Brandt led Windward with 22 points. Villegas also got a big game from junior forward Mason Shepard. He had 18 points and seven rebounds while putting tremendous pressure on Village Christian defenders.

There has been some talk that Village Christian could be a team seriously considered for one of the Southern Section’s four open division berths in the SoCal regional. After evaluating the Crusaders for the third time this season and having seen all 16 CIFSS open division teams numerous times, we don’t think selecting Village Christian makes much sense. The Crusaders are playing better now that Alberts has returned from injury, but there are at least four better and eligible teams for the state open division among the 16 CIFSS open division teams.

It wouldn’t surprise us, however, if Village Christian is seeded higher in the SoCal Div. IV regional than at least one of the four Division IV teams that competed in the CIFSS Open Division bracket (Cantwell Sacred Heart, Gardena Serra, Bishop Montgomery, and Sierra Canyon). Most likely Village Christian will be seeded lower than Sierra Canyon, which won the open division consolation bracket.

“Wherever they place us is fine, I’m just happy were going to go to state,” Shaw said.

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