Monte Vista bombards Centennial with 3-pointers early and wins Division I championship of first-time finalists. Chaminade tops Drake for first crown in Division III while St. Joseph Notre Dame becomes first NorCal school to reach five state titles with win in Division V final.
(D3 & D5 recaps written by Ronnie Flores; D1 by Mark Tennis)
(All games at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento; attendance was 6,176 for the day)
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Monte Vista (Danville) 66, Centennial (Corona) 55
A magical ride by the Mustangs, which now has to go down as one of the best seasons in recent Northern California history, ended with a CIF state title and a 32-1 record.
No, it wasn’t the Open Division and it’s not quite the same as McClymonds of Oakland going 32-0 and winning the D1 title in 2008, but considering that coach Nick Jones’ team posted a convincing win over one of the top three to four teams from Southern California all season and that the team’s only loss came in overtime to a San Ramon Valley of Danville squad that the Mustangs later beat twice, it should ensure a final Student Sports FAB 50 national ranking plus a final overall state ranking of at least No. 4 and possibly No. 3.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet but it was a magical season, a special season and a great run by a special group of kids,” said Jones, whose team became just the second public school from Contra Costa County to win a state title (the first was Northgate of Walnut Creek in 1995). “The chemistry has been phenomenal.”
Heading into the week, Monte Vista was No. 6 in the state overall and was No. 50 in the nation in the FAB 50.
Trevor John’s deadly 3-point shooting set the tone in the first half for Monte Vista. He made his first five 3-pointers in the first quarter, added a sixth in the second quarter and combined with teammate Brendan Pedley’s two 3-pointers to push the lead to 26-13 before the Huskies responded with a mini-run that helped cut the score to 35-28 at halftime.
In the second half, Monte Vista went inside instead of outside with two baskets from 6-foot-9 center Spencer Rust. Centennial never did seem to get untracked. In fact, the Huskies never led after falling behind 6-0 to start the contest.
John ended with 23 points and six 3-pointers. He tied the CIF Division I title game record of six set in 2012 by Mater Dei’s Kaitin Reinhardt. Grant Jackson added 12 points for the Mustangs while Pedley had nine and Rust had eight.
“We hit nine threes last week in the NorCals and 10 tonight,” Jones said. “Hey, we like shooting here.”
For Centennial, which ended 29-4 and was No. 4 in this week’s state rankings, Sedrick Barefield had 16 points but only made 5-of-20 shots from the field. Deontae North, the team’s other leading scorer, was saddled with three fouls by the second quarter, but did have 14 points. Also scoring 14 points for the Huskies was sophomore guard Jordan Griffin.
“We didn’t shoot very well, it’s very simple,” said Centennial head coach Josh Giles. “They shot 8-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half and that ended up being the game. We can’t get into our press like we wanted because it’s hard if we don’t score. They shot it a bit better than I thought they would but that happens in basketball.”
If Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland doesn’t win in Saturday’s Open Division final against Mater Dei of Santa Ana and loses by 10 points or more, there’s also an argument that Monte Vista should be placed higher even than the Dragons in the final rankings. O’Dowd has been higher ranked than Monte Vista all season both locally and in state and national polls. This performance, however, could certainly help to change that.
“No regrets, we’re good,” Jones said about his team’s decision to not move up to the Open Division. “That’s a good team we beat and we showed we were clearly the better team. We’re the D1 champs and that banner is going to look good hanging in the Monte Vista gym.”
Chaminade (West Hills) 71, Drake (San Anselmo) 51
The Eagles needed a near-miracle to advance to their first-ever state final and on paper it looked like it was going to take a near-miracle for NorCal champion Drake to knock off its Southern California counterparts in this division.
Prior to the game, it appeared as though Drake may have caught the break it needed when it was reported Long Beach State-bound Chaminade forward Jack Williams would not suit up due to a bout with mononucleosis. That looked good on paper, but of course, the game is played on the court and Chaminade’s artillery was still too strong as the Eagles captured their first state title.
After losing in the first round of the CIF Southern Section’s new Open Division playoffs, which featured many of the state’s top-ranked teams, Chaminade coach Todd Wolfson credited playing in the state’s toughest league with helping his team rebound to win its last game of the season. The Mission League also produced the state champion in this division in 2012 (Alemany of Mission Hills).
“The league we play in has some supremely talented teams,” Wolfson said. “Supposedly, it’s the best league in the nation and we have to beat some of the best teams in the nation. When we beat Loyola on their home court, we felt we could play with anyone.”
Chaminade, which came in ranked No. 15 in California, can also thank the abilities of junior guard Michael Oguine for joining the school’s football team as a state champion. He hit a buzzer-beating bank 3-pointer to get Chaminade (27-6) into the state final and dominated Friday afternoon’s game from the onset. Oguine hit two early 3-pointers to give Chaminade a 14-7 lead and had 12 points in the first quarter as the Eagles led 19-12 after eight minutes.
Drake (25-9) made its move near the end of the second quarter with an 8-0 run, but Chaminade’s Jordan Ogundiran hit a running bank shot at the halftime buzzer to end the run and give his team a 35-25 lead. It was just one of those nights when Drake could never catch a break and when Nade’s role players stepped up in Williams’ absence.
Oguine had 20 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 26 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Wolfson also got a big offensive game from senior guard Justin Eisen, who nailed three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.
Drake, which posted a string of upsets in the NorCal regional playoffs, also had trouble adjusting the the big arena setting and the shot blocking ability of sophomore center Trevor Stanback. Last year’s Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year blocked three Drake shots in the first half and altered plenty of others after the Pirates adjusted. Drake shot 12-of-49 from the field (25 percent) as Stanback finished with 12 timely points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
“We didn’t finish shots we normally do,” said Drake coach Doug Donnellan, whose program was looking to capture its second state title. “We played our best basketball of season in the prior four games and we were hoping that would carry into this one. We wanted to get into the NorCals and gained a lot of confidence the past two weeks, but two things were key. They turned us over, they got points off of it. When we turned them over, we just didn’t finish.”
Junior Jesse Hunt led Drake with 16 points while classmate Malik Huff added 10. Drake won the first Division II modern era state title with a 87-85 victory over Banning. That team was led by current California State University San Marcos coach Jim Saia and also featured St. John’s coach Steve Lavin.
SoCal teams have won eight of the last nine games in this division and for Stanback, it’s the second state title in his family. His older brother, Chace, the 2007 Division I State Player of the Year, led Fairfax of Los Angeles to a state title that season. His older sister (and Chace’s younger sister), Devin, a senior, will look to lead Chaminade to a Division II title on Saturday.
“When I was younger we went to see as many of Chace’s games as we could,” Trevor Stanback said about his younger sister and himself. “It was neat to see him win state and a good feeling to do it too. It’s a wonderful feeling to be up here at state with my sister and I’m hoping she can carry on the tradition.”
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 57, Renaissance Academy (La Canada) 43
The Pilots didn’t forget. Veteran coach Don Lippi wasn’t about to let his veteran club forget. Every year and team is different, but there is no doubt St. Joseph used the motivation of last year’s Division V title game loss – one of the most heartbreaking we’ve ever seen – in a Friday afternoon win over the Wildcats.
In last year’s game, St. Joe’s lost at the final buzzer by one-point on a 28-foot 3-pointer by San Diego Horizon’s Ethan Underwood. The players, especially Long Beach State-bound Temidayo Yussuf, were inconsolable afterward. Yussuf, Lippi and the rest of the Pilots used that motivation to erase the memory of last year to romp to this year’s D5 title and make history in the process.
“I didn’t get over that until today,” said Yussuf, who finished with game highs of 21 points and 16 rebounds. “This win meant a lot. When we won state when I was a freshman, I didn’t contribute much so I didn’t take it like I won state. This season, I had to step it up. In the timeout (when Renaissance Academy made a couple of baskets), I told the guys, ‘Don’t let up, let’s finish it out strong.”‘
Not only did Renaissance Academy (24-8) have no answer for a motivated Yussuf, who at one point in the third quarter had the same amount of points as the Wildcats (12), St. Joseph (31-5) shot well from the field as a team.
The Pilots shot 61 percent (27-of-44) from the field while Renaissance Academy shot 25 percent (10-of-40). Renaissance Academy did not score in the second quarter as St. Joe took a 29-8 halftime lead.
“It kind of snowballed, and once we didn’t make shots, we got frustrated,” said Renaissance Academy coach Sid Cooke, whose program is now 0-2 in state title games after losing to Branson of Ross in 2008. “It’s hard to play tight from behind.”
In addition to Yussuf, junior bruiser Lamont Banks netted double figures for St. Joseph with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Junior guard Marquise Mosely, who was recently named the CIF Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year, led Renaissance Academy with 12 points.
When Lippi was asked if last year’s game played a role in Friday’s performance and the season in general, he was straightforward with his answer.
“It had a lot to do with today’s performance. We had a picture of the last shot we put on a wall. I looked at it each day. We practice hard all the time, but we really practiced hard this season. This morning, we took the picture out and burned it. I told them ‘it’s in the past.'”
With its resounding victory, St. Joseph set an all-time NorCal record with its fifth state title overall. Now defunct Stockton High School won four state titles during the early era of the CIF state championships, all in the 1920s.
Friday’s title was the program’s third under Lippi, with two of them coming in Division V (2011) and one in Division IV (2004). The first two were won under the late Frank La Porte when the team was led by point guard Jason Kidd, arguably NorCal’s greatest high school player of all-time. In 1991, the Pilots were the first NorCal team to win in Division I and they repeated the following season.