Check our site again very late on Saturday night or right away on Sunday morning for our special State Top 20 overall rankings, final projections for teams we’d pick for both the north and south Open Divisions plus projected top seeds in each CIF division. On Sunday night, we’ll then have reaction to all of the CIF regional pairings.
Note: All of the CIF section finals from Friday were shown on the NFHS Network. They also can still be watched anytime on demand. Sign up now only through Cal-Hi Sports for an amazing 50 percent off for a one-year subscription so you can see all of these highlights and all of these games. CLICK HERE for sign-up box.
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Jake Killingsworth from Serra of San Mateo and Vince Romeo from De La Salle of Concord were put in almost the exact same position playing in different CIF section boys basketball championship games on Friday night.
With Serra having fallen behind league rival St. Francis of Mountain View 38-37 with 16 seconds left in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final at Santa Clara’s Leavey Center, Killingsworth was sent to the free throw line with 0:0.6 seconds left and was given three free throws.
Whether the foul called on St. Francis was legit or not, Killingsworth still had to make at least one to tie and two to win. He did better than that. He made all three to give Serra a 40-38 win.
Less than two minutes later in real time, Romeo, who has been a standout senior all season for the Spartans, found himself in almost the same situation. With De La Salle trailing Monte Vista of Danville 50-49 in the closing seconds, he was fouled on a back-door play. There were 0:0.5 seconds on the clock. Unlike Killingsworth, Romeo only had two free throws. Both clanged off the back rim, so instead of the Spartans finally getting a win over Monte Vista it was the Mustangs celebrating the 50-49 triumph.
Serra (22-4) won its first CCS Open Division title after league rival Archbishop Mitty won the first two. The Padres also will almost for sure be chosen on Sunday for the Northern California Open Division.
Whether St. Francis (22-5) also goes into that bracket seems more unclear. The Lancers, who had two previous wins over Serra, wouldn’t have been eligible last year, but since the CCS has an Open Division any team that at least gets to a semifinal from a section with an Open Division can be taken up. How many teams from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section go to the Open Division will impact St. Francis’ placement and that may depend on whether Sacramento or Modesto Christian win in that section’s D2 final on Saturday.
Monte Vista repeated as the NCS D1 champion and has now topped perennial power De La Salle six times in a row dating to last season. The Mustangs also went on last year to win the CIF Division I state title. They were ineligible for the Open Division last year, but this year they are eligible and will be in that bracket this time.
Stefan Mitu, who has been a major problem for De La Salle all season, had his best game yet against the Spartans with 36 points. He had 12 at halftime, but the Mustangs still led the low-scoring contest 19-17.
De La Salle’s missed opportunity also impacted fellow NCS school El Cerrito. If the Spartans had won that game, they’d have probably also clinched an Open Division slot with Monte Vista seemingly in a situation of being Open Division-bound win or lose. El Cerrito then would have been the team to drop a spot and thus out of the top four from the NCS headed to the Open Division. Instead, if El Cerrito wins the D2 section final on Saturday, it’s probably the fourth NCS team in the NorCal Open Division.
In other notable section hoop finals played on Friday night:
The Irish (17-10) used a 14-2 run in the third quarter to turn around a game they were trailing for most of the first half. They won their 13th section title. Nothing shows how much the team has improved since a lopsided January loss to St. Ignatius at USF since this win (Pinewood won over SHC earlier in the year as well) and two wins the last two times out against the Wildcats.
Standout sophomore Ilmari’ Thomas had 22 points and 10 rebounds for SHC, which along with Pinewood (24-3) will go to the NorCal Open Division. Since St. Ignatius also lost in the CCS third-place game on Thursday to Eastside Prep, it may now be down in Division III instead of the Open Division.
Central Section Division II Boys
Hanford 64, Mission Oak (Tulare) 49
The Bullpups defended their D2 section title by pulling away from the Hawks in the second half. Hanford (26-4) also avenged two earlier league losses to Mission Oak, which came into the game at No. 9 in the Division II state rankings.
Hanford has a number of top grid-hoop athletes on its squad, including sophomore Ryan Johnson, the QB from the football team. He led the Bullpups in scoring with 17 points.
Southern Section Division 4-A Boys
Maranatha (Sierra Madre) 59, Campbell Hall (North Hollywood) 53
For recap by Ronnie Flores involving two of the top players in the state, Maranatha’s Tyler Dorsey and Campbell Hall’s Aaron Holiday, CLICK HERE.
Southern Section Open Division Boys (Consolation)
Long Beach Poly 48, Redondo (Redondo Beach) 40
In a defensive slugfest dominated by Poly’s ability to block shots, the Jackrabbits made enough free throws down the stretch. Both teams have been in the State Top 20 all year and for portions have both been in the Top 10. Both also will now move on to the CIF SoCal Division I bracket with Poly in a position at 25-4 to be the top seed. Redondo fell to 23-7.
Southern Section Open Division Girls (Consolation)
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 45, Serra (Gardena) 40
With a win in this game, the Lions become one of the favorites to win the CIF Division IV state title. They improved to 25-6 and will not be going up to the Open Division due to the rule that limits any section from having more than four teams in that bracket. Oaks Christian bounced back after losing in its first CIFSS Open Division outing to Chaminade of West Hills, which is playing top seed Mater Dei on Saturday.