Long Beach Poly beats Salesian in Open Division and will be No. 1 in the state. Chaminade adds another title in Division II championship, its third of the school year. Sierra Canyon also wins one for the San Fernando Valley in Division IV.
(D1 and D5 recaps written by Harold Abend; D3 by Mark Tennis)
(All games at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento; attendance for the day was 8,314)
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Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 70, Salesian (Richmond) 52
In a very entertaining game of scoring runs that was a lot closer than the final score indicates, Long Beach Poly (27-3) won its second straight state championship and sixth overall, but this was the first Open Division title since last year’s crown came in Division I.
The win also gives head coach Carl Buggs a record tying sixth state championship. Buggs now joins Kevin Kiernan of Mater Dei, Tom Gonsalves of Stockton St. Mary’s and Los Altos Hills Pinewood skipper Doc Scheppler. The doctor got his sixth on Friday in the Division V state championship.
“Honestly, I didn’t even realize it tied a record,” Buggs said. “What I’m most proud of is the kids getting the state championships and us helping them get to college.”
The way the game started it looked like the college-laden Jackrabbits were going to run away and hide from the Pride.
Poly junior Tania Lamb (13 points) opened the scoring with back-to-back three-pointers, and the next Poly basket was a three-pointer by Louisville-bound Arica Carter. Almost before the seats were warm it was 17-4 Poly and 19-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Salesian (30-7) closed to 19-15 on a 6-0 run, but shortly afterward Louisville-bound McDonald’s All-American and Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year candidate Mariya Moore picked up her third foul and Poly went on a 14-2 run to open a 33-17 lead that ended up 36-23 at halftime.
Moore returned in the third quarter with a vengeance, and coupled with Poly’s Carter picking up her fourth foul, Salesian went on a 16-0 run to take a 39-36 lead.
Two possessions later, Poly’s 6-foot-3 UCLA-bound McDonald’s All-American and Ms. Basketball candidate Lajahna Drummer picked up her fourth foul, and with Salesian leading 41-38 it seemed the NorCal champs had the momentum going their way.
That is until Poly freshman post Ayanna Clark started to her assert herself. The 6-foot-3 State Freshman of the Year candidate had seven of her team’s next 10 points, and coupled with the Jackrabbits’ defense clamping down, Poly took a 48-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
Moore picked up her fourth foul at 7:19 of the final period on an offensive foul, and then fouled out on another offensive foul with 5:47 left and Poly leading 50-44.
“I probably should have pulled up but I was just focused on getting to the rim,” said Moore about the final two offensive fouls. Even with the foul trouble and early exit, Moore played almost 23 minutes and led the team with a double-double 16 points and 10 rebounds with four assists.
With Moore gone, and Salesian’s big girls unable to control her, Clark continued to dominate the paint and eventually finished with game highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds, with 14 of the points and 12 of the rebounds coming in the final 10:41 of the contest.
“It was just a matter of me stepping up to the challenges and making my contribution to the game,” the freshman sheepishly remarked to roaring laughter from her teammates.
By the time Drummer and Carter returned the score was 56-46, and after Carter scored to make it 58-48 with just under three minutes remaining, all Salesian could do was foul and Poly scored its final 12 points from the free-throw line.
“Some of the starters didn’t play very well because of foul trouble and turning the ball over, but the good thing is we were able to overcome it because the role players stepped up and made it a team effort,” Buggs remarked.
“I don’t know what happened in that third quarter but once we spread the floor and started attacking them we had more success,” Buggs continued.
To some on press row, it looked like the big hole Salesian dug took too much effort to climb out of, and the Pride didn’t have the energy to complete the comeback.
“It was more of them making the adjustments than us running out of gas, and yes the freshman hurt us on the boards and muscled us out of position, but that’s a great team with a lot of really good players,” said Salesian head coach Steve Pezzola, whose team has made three straight appearances in a state championship game and lost them all, with the first two coming in Division IV.
An what about this Poly team in comparison with Buggs’ first five state championship teams, and even some of the great teams he had before winning a state title?
“It’s kind of hard to answer. I’ll have to reflect on that. Each team was special in its own way. This was one of the most talented teams we’ve had.”
For the first time since 2007 Long Beach Poly will both finish No. 1 in the final rankings that will be released next week and also be named the State Team of the Year.
For the school, Long Beach Poly also now has 35 all-time CIF titles in all sports combined. The Jackrabbits, who won CIF state titles last school year in girls track in addition to girls hoops, are now 18 in front of second-place Archbishop Mitty of San Jose (which has 17). Although the Mitty girls lost on Saturday, the school’s girls volleyball team picked up No. 17 last December and moved past Berkeley (which has 16).
Chaminade (West Hills) 80, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 51
One day after the Eagles’ boys team won the Division III crown, the girls hoisted the championship plaque after defeating the Monarchs for this year’s Division II title.
In a surprisingly one-sided final, given Mitty’s history of success in the CIF girls finals, Chaminade’s inside power was the difference. Six-foot-3 senior center Devin Stanback was particularly dominant with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
“Absolutely, there was a lot of pressure on us, that we’d better get the hat trick,” said Chaminade head coach Kelli DiMuro, who also was referencing the school’s CIF Division II state football crown that was won last December. “But the girls came out ready to win and did it with purpose.”
Stanback not only joins her younger brother, Trevor, as a CIF state champion but also her older brother, Chace. Trevor was a major factor in the Chaminade boys win on Friday while Chace was the Division I state player of the year in 2007 for CIF Division I champ Fairfax of Los Angeles.
“After the boys won, I really wanted it,” Stanback said. “My brothers were texting me and calling me, telling me, ‘If you don’t win, it’s going to suck for you.'”
Chaminade also had an effective game plan for slowing down Mitty’s Kelli Hayes. The former State Sophomore of the Year who is headed to UCLA only had 13 points and only one other Mitty player reached double figures, which was promising freshman Maddy Holland (11 points).
“We were playing the middle ground too much and weren’t dictating anything defensively,” said Mitty head coach Sue Phillips, who fell to 5-5 in CIF state title game appearances. “We made a nice little run in the third quarter, but wish we could have done that from the beginning. They brought their A game and we didn’t play to our capabilities, but I don’t want to take away any credit to them and to what our ladies have done this season.”
The Eagles didn’t have just Stanback doing damage inside, either. Senior forward Natalie Valenzuela (6-2) grabbed 10 rebounds to go with 15 points while sophomore forward Valerie Higgins (6-1) had 15 points and seven boards. With those three plus Kaylie Fandino (12 points), it all contributed to a 66.7 percent shooting mark from the night. In the first half alone, Chaminade made 19 of 27 shots from the floor.
“We’ve done a lot of shooting recently and this seemed like a familiar arena for us because we played in Ontario last week,” said DiMuro, who also was quick to say this is the best team she’s had in her 17 years at the school. “We just came out with energy and determination.”
Chaminade wrapped up a 29-4 season and could move up a spot for two from No. 13 in next week’s final State Top 20. Mitty finished 20-12.
The last school to pull off the CIF boys-girls title sweep in the same year was Mater Dei of Santa Ana in 2012 when the Monarchs won both boys and girls titles in Division I. Ironically, Mitty also did it the same year in Division II.
Research on schools that have won three CIF state titles in the same school year is not complete, but it was done previously during the 1997-98 school year by Long Beach Poly. In that year, the Jackrabbits won Division I crowns in boys cross country, boys track and girls track.
CIF Boys-Girls Same Year State Titles
1982 — San Anselmo Drake (boys D2, girls D2)
1988 — Ripon Christian (boys D5, girls D5)
1989 — Atherton Menlo School (boys D5, girls D5)
1994 — Ripon Christian (boys D5, girls D5)
2000 — Torrance Bishop Montgomery (boys D3, girls D3)
2001 — Torrance Bishop Montgomery (boys D3, girls D3)
2007 — Ross Branson (boys D5, girls D5)
2008 — Ross Branson (boys D5, girls D5)
2011 — Los Angeles Windward (boys D4, girls D4)
2011 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (boys D1, girls D1)
2012 — San Jose Archbishop Mitty (boys D2, girls D2)
2012 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (boys D1, girls D1)
2014 — West Hills Chaminade (boys D3, girls D2)
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 64, Justin-Siena (Napa) 37
The girls from the San Fernando Valley won their second straight state championship after capturing the Division V title last season.
This year’s Division IV champion had little trouble with a game and spirited, but seriously understaffed Justin-Siena.
The standout junior duo of Cheyanne Wallace and Kennedy Burke had the most complete games on both ends of the floor, as each recorded a double-double.
Wallace, a 6-foot forward and the ESPNW No. 33 ranked junior forward in the nation, registered game highs of 21 points and 18 rebounds with four blocks. Burke, the ESPNW No. 9 ranked junior wing and No. 49 overall-ranked junior, added 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
Zoe Goss, the lone senior on the Trailblazers’ roster had 15 points, while freshman Alexis Griggsby hit three three-pointers en route to 13 points.
Justin Siena held its own for the better part of the first quarter. The Braves only trailed 13-11 before a 3-pointer by Wallace at the buzzer made it 16-13 and ignited an 18-2 run that sealed the fate of the Northern Regional champions.
“At the beginning of the season we had three goals, to win league, to win section and win a state championship. We failed at the first two, but we won a state championship, and that’s the ultimate,” said Sierra Canyon head coach Alicia Komaki, who besides winning two state titles as a coach also won a 2002 CIF Southern Section title as a player under current Santa Ana Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan when he had the helm at Fullerton Troy.
To get to the state title game, Sierra Canyon (28-4) played a tough schedule that included two Alpha League losses to state No. 2 Los Angeles Windward, a loss to nationally-ranked Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.), and a loss in the CIF Southern Section Open Division to state No. 3 Santa Ana Mater Dei.
Since then, the Trailblazers have run off five victories including a 59-52 win in the Southern Regional Division IV title game over a Gardena Serra that had a win over Windward on its resume.
Sierra Canyon was a team that ended the season looking nothing like the team the Cal-Hi Caravan saw get blown out in a preseason scrimmage at Mater Dei.
“Our weakness has been handling pressure, so we scrimmage Mater Dei because they bring a lot of pressure,” Komaki remarked. “We want to figure out our weaknesses early in the year, and that scrimmage helped us when we faced Serra.”
Justin Siena (29-7) got a double-double 17 points and 12 rebounds from Chico State-bound Haley Cremen.
“This thing didn’t end today,” remarked Justin-Siena head coach Mike Boles. “These girls created a lifetime of memories this season.”
With respect to next season and whether Sierra Canyon will shoot for the Open Division, Komaki had this to say.
“We’ll try to keep the momentum going by keeping the schedule tough,” she said. “Ultimately, we’re trying to establish a tradition for our program and make a name for ourselves, but we don’t want to put too much pressure on the girls.”
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 on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports