For NorCal boys basketball pairings reaction, CLICK HERE.
For NorCal girls basketball pairings reaction, CLICK HERE.
For SoCal boys basketball pairings reaction, CLICK HERE.
For SoCal girls basketball pairings reaction, CLICK HERE.
(Thanks to Harold Abend & Ronnie Flores for covering games this weekend)
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BOYS: Mater Dei tops Chino Hills in historic CIFSS final
It was a nip-and-tuck triumph for the Monarchs (ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the FAB 50 national rankings) in the first CIF Southern Section Open Division championship. For managing editor Ronnie Flores’ account, CLICK HERE.
GIRLS: A St. Mary’s kind of night in NorCal
After Saturday’s CIF North Coast Section & CIF Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball championships, it’s obvious that St. Mary’s will be the top seed for this year’s CIF NorCal Open Division. But which one?
After St. Mary’s of Stockton won its seventh straight Sac-Joaquin Section title (this time in D1) with a 77-53 victory over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, the Rams improved to 24-4 and wouldn’t be moved from their current overall state ranking of No. 4, which is the highest for a Northern California squad.
But it’s been proven over the years in CIF selection meetings how important a head-to-head win is, and the other St. Mary’s, the one in Berkeley, happens to own one over St. Mary’s of Stockton. The Panthers (26-7) won the NCS D4 title on Saturday with a 65-57 triumph over Salesian of Richmond. That reversed three earlier losses to the Pride, which is why St. Mary’s of Stockton has been higher-ranked in recent weeks (the Rams also have a win over the Pride).
Stockton St. Mary’s coach Tom Gonsalves knows that it’s not too important to be No. 1 or No. 2 because those two would eventually play in the big arena at the end anyway and despite some anxious moments against Oak Ridge thinks there are some matchup problems against certain teams the Rams could play in the NorCal tourney.
“We’d be better against certain teams than others depending on the matchups,” said Gonsalves, whose team has played Windward of Los Angeles (will be No. 1 in the state next week), Mater Dei of Santa Ana (was No. 1) in addition to Salesian, Berkeley St. Mary’s and Etiwanda (five D1 starters). “I’m confident about a top seed, but more interested in the draw, whether they take six teams or eight and what other teams from our section are chosen. If it’s them (St. Mary’s of Berkeley) at No. 1, I’d rather play them in the final anyway.”
In Saturday’s game, the Rams trailed Oak Ridge 19-14 after the first quarter and needed a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Kat Tudor in the last 20 seconds of the third quarter to break a tie and take a 52-46 lead into the final period.
In that fourth quarter, it was all St. Mary’s. A series of turnovers and baskets quickly upped the lead to double-digits and more.
Tudor connected of 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and ended with 24 points. Freshman guard Naje Murray also had one of her best games with 15 points while sophomore forward Angel Johnson had 15 points and 10 rebounds. St. Mary’s young cast has had to grow up quickly due to the loss of junior Bri Moore (no longer at school) and senior Charisse Holloway (injury).
Oak Ridge, which despite the loss showed it could be a major factor in what looks like a relatively weak NorCal D1 field, was led by Ali Bettencourt with 19 points.
For more on the St. Mary’s of Berkeley girls, CLICK HERE.
MORE BOYS SCORES THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 54, Mission Viejo 46
The one CIF Southern Section team from the State Top 20 that wasn’t chosen for the first section Open Division seemed glad to win the Division I-AA title by powering past the Diablos. The Jackrabbits (26-7), who were No. 14 in this week’s State Top 20, were led by Kameron Murrell with 19 points, including 13 of 13 on free throws. Poly claimed its 20th CIFSS title since 1921, which is second-most in the section behind Mater Dei. Depending on whether Chino Hills is in the Open Division or not, the Jackrabbits could get a top four seed for the SoCal Division I playoffs. They probably wouldn’t be seeded in front of CIFSS Open Division teams such as Corona Centennial or Loyola, which wouldn’t be in the SoCal Open Division and instead are bouncing back down to D1.
Folsom 79, Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove) 62
It’s hard to fathom that the Bulldogs, who are now 29-2 and No. 15 in the state, only won 12 games last season. They pulled away in one of the games we paid close attention to on Saturday at Sleep Train Arena to win the Sac-Joaquin Section D2 title and seem like a lock to be the top seed for the NorCal D2 bracket. Next year, Folsom won’t sneak up on anyone since it’s an all-underclass starting five led by sophomore point guard Jordan Ford. He led the scoring with 33 points and for a few moments seemed like he might break the section D2 title game record of 36. “I wouldn’t be surprised if all four semifinalists in our section were in the semifinals of our division of NorCals,” said Folsom coach Mike Wall when asked how strong the SJS D2 bracket was to win. Cosumnes Oaks, which almost didn’t even get to the semifinals after surviving a trip to St. Mary’s of Stockton with a two-point win, was topped by 19 points each from Alex Van Dyke and Eric Toles. The Wolfpack (No. 17 in the state) had a 28-game on-the-court win streak snapped.
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 89, El Cerrito 69
For recap, CLICK HERE.
El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 58, Westchester (Los Angeles) 56
Maleke Haynes knocked down four free throws in the final minute as the Conquistadors won in an upset over the Comets, who came into the game ranked No. 9 overall in the state. El Camino Real won its first-ever L.A. City Section title in the top division. The team also is eligible to be taken for the CIF SoCal Open Division and likely will be chosen on Sunday. Even with the loss and in a close game, Westchester also may be taken up to the Open Division. It all depends on how badly the CIF SoCal commissioners want to have an eight-team bracket. There also was a big upset (see below) in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division final.
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 62, St. Augustine (San Diego) 60
Throughout the season, last year’s CIF D3 state champs from St. Augustine have been the team to beat in the CIF San Diego Section. La Costa Canyon, which reached the CIF D2 state final two years ago, ended up being the team to beat the Saints. The Mavericks (28-5) did it by holding off a late push by St. Augustine that trimmed a 62-54 lead in the final minute to just one basket. With the Saints leading 52-51 earlier in the fourth quarter, Brady Twombly scored two baskets and a free throw for a 56-52 La Costa Canyon lead. St. Augustine (28-3) never led again. Twombley ended with 20 points and five rebounds. Trey Kell topped St. Augustine with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Both teams are eligible for the CIF SoCal Open Division and while only St. Augustine has been in the State Top 20 both could be taken because there is a limit of just four that the CIF can take from the Southern Section.
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 71, Windward (Los Angeles) 67
For recap, CLICK HERE.
Washington (Easton) 59, Coalinga 50
The Panthers have been reported by the Fresno Bee as winning their 23rd section title, which was later corrected to 22. This one came in the CIF Central Section D4 final. We did a quick calculation on Friday night and thought it was 22, but got the final answer from section historian Bob Barnett on Sunday. He said he had told the Bee an incorrect total. At 22, Washington would be tied with Edison of Fresno and Mater Dei of Santa Ana for the state record. The Monarchs also won a section title on Saturday.
Edison (Fresno) 55, Bullard (Fresno) 39
A few hours after Roosevelt and Fresno High played in the first Central Section final in 100 years in which both teams represented the Fresno Unified School District, the Tigers beat the Knights in another one and claimed the Division I title. Edison, which was led by Tyquan Neal with 23 points and Daylon Potts with nine points and 14 rebounds, also won its 22nd section title. That total is tied for first on the updated all-time state list.
MORE GIRLS SCORES THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION
Sacramento 53, McNair (Stockton) 52
In a matchup of two teams that have been on the verge of the State Top 20 for most of the season, the Dragons survived when Tiara Tucker missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that would have won it for the Eagles. Ayanna Edwards, who is headed to Arizona State, had a blocked shot on McNair’s previous possession in the closing seconds and ended with 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. Sophomore Alana Matthews broke a 52-52 tie with 5.5 seconds left by making a free throw. “We could have freaked out when they banked in a couple of those threes, but we battled it out to the end,” said Sacramento coach Michelle Massari, whose program has now won four straight section titles. The Dragons may have eight losses – they are 23-8 overall – but six of those came consecutively in December when the team was playing the teeth of its national-level schedule. The scenario that could prevent the team from going up to the NorCal Open Division is that it has a loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco, which was the runner-up to St. Ignatius on Friday in the CCS Open Division. St. Ignatius, in turn, has a head-to-head loss to Brookside Christian of Stockton, the SJS D5 winner. All of those teams are eligible for the Open Division.
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 53, Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 47
After finishing as runner-up to La Jolla Country Day in nine of the last 11 CIF San Diego Section Division IV finals, the Knights got it done in the first Open Division title game. Bishop’s has been the No. 1 team in San Diego for the entire season and came back from an eight-point deficit. A 19-6 surge in the third quarter was key and featured freshman Destiny Littleton hitting on nine of her 17 points. Bishop’s, which is eligible for the Open Division and will probably be seeded No. 5 (possibly playing Etiwanda first) for the SoCal Open Division, also was led by senior Imani Littleton with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Clovis West (Fresno) 45, Hanford 30
Coach Craig Campbell’s squad, ranked No. 15 in the state overall, avenged an earlier two-point loss to the Bullpups and won its second straight CIF Central Section Division I title. Hanford, which had risen to No. 19 overall in the state, won 59-57 in early December. The Bullpups also had their streak of winning five straight section titles snapped last year by Clovis West. Emily Anderson had 11 points to lead the Golden Eagles with Aysha Kirkland adding 10 points and 10 rebounds. Both teams are eligible for the SoCal Open Division. As the two-time champion, Clovis West is going up. Hanford may or may not be, depending on whether the CIF commissioners go with a six-team bracket in the South. To us, seems like the big four from the CIFSS plus Clovis West and Bishop’s is enough. And while they’re at it, make sure there’s only six from the north going to the Open Division as well.
Miramonte (Orinda) 94, Encinal (Alameda) 42
Yes, this was a section final, the North Coast Division III. It no doubt would have matched the Matadors against Bishop O’Dowd, but the defending CIF Open Division state champs were disqualified two weeks ago. Miramonte improved to 29-1 with the running clock win and it was mentioned on a tweet afterward that the girls had petitioned to move up to the NorCal Open Division. In their case, though, petitioning would not matter. The Matadors are eligible regardless. It’s nice to know they are embracing the opportunity and anyone taking them for granted just based on that one loss to Salesian is making a big mistake.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark, Ronnie Flores and Harold Abend on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports