Big winners include Long Beach Poly, Canyon Springs, Chaminade, Santa Barbara, Sierra Canyon and La Jolla Country Day. Jackrabbits seem to have become healthy and have jelled at just the right time. Sierra Canyon wins in matchup of 2013 CIF state champions from different divisions. Look for our CIF state finals’ predictions on Monday.
(Mark Tennis contributed to these writeups)
Note: For expanded State Top 20 rankings plus the next divisional state rankings, please check out a Gold Club membership. It’s less than $2 per month and some of our all-state lists in a few weeks also will be for Gold Club members only. For info, CLICK HERE.
OPEN DIVISION SOUTH
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 56, Etiwanda 46
The Jackrabbits have earned their way back to Sacramento for the CIF state finals in the Open Division. They won top honors in Division I last season. For Ronnie Flores’ recap, CLICK HERE.
DIVISION I SOUTH
Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 66, Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 51
The defending CIF Division III state champions hoped to make it back to state in a higher classification, but the top-seeded Cougars had other ideas. Canyon Springs consistently broke through Alemany’s full court press for high percentage field goals or to get in their offense. Canyon Springs’ execution put it in its first state title game in nine years where the Cougars hope to bring home the program’s first state title.
“When things aren’t going right, we talk to each other and work things out,” Canyon Springs coach Gail Hale said. “We have good chemistry. “Last year, we took a big whippin’ in this game and we didn’t want that again.”
No. 1 seed Canyon Springs was in control throughout and No. 2 Alemany never led. After a shaky start in which Alemany shot 3-of-18 from the field in the first quarter and trailed 14-9, it tied the game at 17-17. Canyon Springs took control by outscoring Alemany, 16-9, in the third period to take a nine-point lead entering the final period. The Warriors fought back to cut their deficit to a basket (34-32) but could get no closer.
Alemany couldn’t slow down San Diego State-bound Cheyenne Greenhouse, as she made two key 3-pointers and other timely baskets whenever Alemany threatened. Greenhouse finished with a game-high 27 points, including 11-of-13 free throws. As a team, Canyon Springs connected on 24-of-32 free throws, whereas Alemany made 13-of-23.
“I thought Canyon Springs was well-prepared,” Alemany coach Bryan Camacho said. “They did a good job of making shots and executing. They also had great spacing.”
Besides Greenhouse, Canyon Springs had three players in double figures, including Charnea Johnson-Chapman with 12 point and 15 rebounds. Alemany’s Breanna Calhoun led Alemany with a team-high 13 points, but she made only 5-of-15 field goal attempts.
Both teams played in the CIF Southern Section’s new open division playoffs. Alemany (25-8*) won the CIFSS Open Division consolation bracket over Lynwood. Canyon Springs (24-6) lost 52-42 to Windward of Los Angeles in the quarterfinals.
Canyon Springs was making its third Division I regional final appearance in four years, including last year’ 63-40 loss to Long Beach Poly, and is now 2-2 all-time in regional title games. In 2005, Hale’s club lost to Oakland Tech in the Division I state final. Alemany defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 46-40 in last year’s D3 state title game.
DIVISION II SOUTH
Chaminade (West Hills) 67, West (Torrance) 50
For most of the game, it didn’t look like it was a question of whether Chaminade would win or not, it was more a question if the Eagles would double up the score on the CIF Southern Section Division II-A champions.
Chaminade (28-4) eventually did double up West Torrance (33-5) on a lay-up by Valerie Higgins right before halftime to give the Eagles a 39-19. The Warriors fought back in the fourth quarter, however, to make it a game before running out of steam in the final minutes.
West Torrance faced a 23-point deficit in the second half, but got back into the game in the final period with its 3-point shooting and hustle plays. With 5:26 remaining in the fourth period, junior Kaya Sato hit a 3-pointer to make it 50-40 Alemany and the Warriors got their deficit under 10 (53-45) on a 3-pointer by sophomore Hayley Tanabe with 4:03 remaining. With 3:55 on the clock, two free throws by Sato made the score 53-47, but West Torrance couldn’t get any closer as Chaminade regrouped to advance to its first state final.
Last season, Chaminade lost to Alemany of Mission Hills 60-47 in the SoCal Division III regional final.
“This group believes in each other, they have chemistry and they are fighters,” Chaminade head coach Kelli Di Muro said.
West Torrance had trouble with Nade’s length, particularly center Devin Stanback. The 6-foot-3 center netted a game-high 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Higgins added 15 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.
Freshman Jasmine Jones had team-highs of 19 points and 13 rebounds for West Torrance, which graduates only two seniors off its roster. Sato added 18 points, but made only 5-of-24 field goal attempts.
The Eagles also kept alive hopes for boys-girls CIF state title sweep (and third CIF state title of the school year for Chaminade, including football).
DIVISION III SOUTH
Santa Barbara 58, Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 48
The Dons will continue what the locals are calling a dream season by knocking off the Eagles. They also reached 30 wins in a season for the first time.
If Modesto Christian wants to improve its chances of winning in next week’s final, it might be a good idea not to foul Santa Barbara. In the win on Saturday, the Dons connected on 25 of 31 from the stripe and were especially good at knocking down free throws down the stretch as the Eagles were attempting to come back.
Santa Barbara used a 13-0 run to take a 30-16 lead at halftime. Santa Margarita (25-14) had some mini-runs in the second half, but could get no closer than six points down.
Amber Melgoza, a sophomore forward who averaged 22 ppg in the regular season, topped the Dons with 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Senior guard Desira Coleman, the only senior starter, chipped in with 15.
The Eagles, also loaded with underclassmen, were led by Zaire Williams with 15 points and eight rebounds. Tori Anderson, a freshman, added 13.
DIVISION IV SOUTH
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 59, Serra (Gardena) 52
Last year’s CIF D4 state champions from Serra were ousted in the regional final by a Trailblazers’ squad that won the 2013 CIF D5 crown. Both teams were in the CIFSS Open Division and have been in the top 15 of the State Top 20 for most of the season.
Sierra Canyon (27-4) posted the win even though star sophomore Cheyenne Wallace sat on the bench for a 13-minute stretch due to fouls. Picking up the slack was freshman Alexis Griggsby with 15 points and Zoe Goss with nine points.
The Trailblazers also had huge edge from the free throw line. They made 22-of-26 on free throws while the Cavaliers were only 10-of-16.
Wallace helped the free throw total by burying 10-of-10 before missing two with most of those shots coming in the fourth quarter when Sierra Canyon gained control.
Kennedy Burke, the team’s other star sophomore, led the Trailblazers with 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.
Serra, which was making its fourth straight regional final appearance and finished 25-5, actually did very well to keep the score as close as it was. The Cavs were short-handed for most of the game when one of its top two players, Chyanne Butler, hit her head in the first quarter and did not return due to having concussion-like symptoms. The team’s other top player, Caila Hailey, also had a bad day shooting, going just 2-for-17 and scoring just nine points.
Serra’s Cydney Bolton and Kayla Bibb were the reasons their team was tied heading into the fourth quarter as they ended with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
DIVISION V SOUTH
La Jolla Country Day 54, Immanuel (Reedley) 33
After getting stuck in the Open Division last year with Kelsey Plum (the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year), the Torreys advanced to their 12th CIF state final and won their seventh regional crown. The only school with more is Brea Olinda with 11. Others with seven are Bishop Montgomery of Torrance and St. Bernard of Playa del Rey.
Immanuel was within striking distance at halftime, trailing by just 22-18, but LJCD rolled in the second half. Sophomore standout Mai-Loni Henson had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Torreys. Immanuel’s Sara Vasquez didn’t shoot well, but still had 14 points to lead her team.