Friday CIF Boys Finals

Damien of La Verne players get pumped at center court moments after the final horn sounded in the CIF Division III state final at Haas Pavilion. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Damien of La Verne players get pumped at center court moments after the final horn sounded in the CIF Division III state final at Haas Pavilion. Photo: Willie Eashman.

San Ramon Valley gives city of Danville another Division I state title but it takes two overtimes this time. Damien earns Division III state title to go with Baseline League crown. In Division V, Sierra Canyon way too much for S.F. University.

RELATED: For a historical look at teams from the same league to win CIF state titles, CLICK HERE.

Note: For next week’s final divisional state rankings plus state record updates, much of it will be for our Gold Club members. To join our Gold Club today, please CLICK HERE.

Note: All games played at UC Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion. D1 & D3 breakdowns/writeups by Mark Tennis; D5 by Ronnie Flores.


Favored Southern California teams in this game aren’t going to want to keep running into a team from Danville.

Last year, it was Centennial of Corona falling to Monte Vista of Danville. This year, the Mustangs’ arch-rivals did the same thing to Chino Hills.

San Ramon Valley point guard Keith Smith dishes for one of his eight assists in 2 OT win over Chino Hills. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

San Ramon Valley point guard Keith Smith dishes for one of his eight assists in 2 OT win over Chino Hills. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

“Our league (East Bay Athletic League) is incredible,” said victorious head coach Brian Boteen. “Another EBAL team may be here next year. We’re just glad to hold the tradition of Danville.”

It was a much different type of game, however. Monte Vista didn’t need any extra time for its state title, but San Ramon Valley needed two.

In both overtimes and in the final minutes of regulation, Chino Hills, which was No. 8 overall in the state coming in, was limited in its options due to junior Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year candidate Lonzo Ball having fouled out.

Ball was sensational in his debut before many in Northern California who had not seen him before. He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Despite Ball being out, the Huskies still had a chance to win the game at the end of the first overtime but senior Cameron Shelton missed a 30-foot shot at the horn.

“A lot of times when a player like that fouls out, teams relax,” said Boteen, whose team was No. 15 overall in the state. “I told them to stay focused. A couple of plays and it could have gone the other way.”

San Ramon Valley (27-6) couldn’t close it out in regulation and also missed a chance to win it at the end of regulation. The Wolves had called a play for senior Christian Fuca, but the ball got loose and in the scramble Fuca picked it up and tried a heave that missed.

In the second overtime, the Wolves got the advantage on a three-pointer by Keith Smith and a tip-in by Kyle Spackman. They basically held on from there by making their free throws. A basket by Drew Kunde also helped.

“I’m disappointed we weren’t allowed to play with the guys who deserved to be on the court,” Chino Hills coach Steve Baik said Ball’s five fouls. “San Ramon Valley did play a great game.”
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The Huskies (24-8 with forfeits not included) came out wearing t-shirts in honor of Nnamdi Okongwu, a teammate who died last June from a skateboard accident. They didn’t start fast, though, falling behind 6-0 before freshman Andre Ball finally got them on the board.

A 10-0 run later in the first quarter enabled Chino Hills to take a 14-10 lead, which was quickly answered by a 6-0 spurt by the Wolves.

In the second quarter, the Ball brothers, Lonzo and LiAngelo, combined for 15 points as Chino Hills grabbed a 29-25 lead at the break. Back-to-back threes by LiAngelo Ball were critical in that sequence.

Smith had a huge game for San Ramon Valley with 20 points and eight assists. Fuca came out hot in the second half with a trio of 3-pointers to help turn the tide and had 18 points.

Another big difference for the Wolves was 6-foot-7 Kyle Spackman. He wasn’t much of a factor in their NorCal final win over Woodcreek of Roseville, but against Chino Hills he had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Gregg Polosky and Kunde also reached double figures for San Ramon Valley with 12 points each.

The Ball family was additionally represented in the scoring column by LiAngelo, Lonzo’s younger brother. He took 29 shots, but had 23 points and six rebounds. Andre Ball, the freshman cousin of the two brothers, added seven points and seven rebounds.

In the end, though, it was too much depth for San Ramon Valley, which resulted in the school’s zany rooting section having the biggest ball of the night.

“This is going to take awhile for this to sink in,” Batteen said. “I’m so glad to represent San Ramon Valley. So many guys called us this week from Mark Madsen (former NBA player) and Randy Wynn (former MLB player) to a lot of guys from the 1990s. I told our guys we weren’t just playing for us but for everyone in the 100-plus years of the school.”


With two wins in Baseline League play over D1 state runner-up Chino Hills, you’d think that it should have been a breeze for the Spartans against the Cougars.

Not true. The score didn’t get out of hand until the middle of the fourth quarter plus Campolindo big man Chris Hansen proved to be a load with game highs of 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Campolindo's Chris Hansen looks to score against Justin Hemsley of Damien. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Campolindo’s Chris Hansen looks to score against Justin Hemsley of Damien. Photo: Willie Eashman.

In pulling away from the Cougars with a 31-22 final quarter, Damien (ranked No. 7 overall in the state) earned its first state title. The Spartans (29-5) also kept alive the possibility of getting a final national ranking in the FAB 50.

“We finally made some shots,” said Damien head coach Matt Dunn. “In the first half, I though we were getting good shots. I felt we were playing tremendous defense. We also finally got the game going more to our speed in the fourth quarter.”

Jeremy Hemsley was stellar for the Spartans in his final game wearing the uniform before he heads to San Diego State, which was represented in the stands by his future head coach, Steve Fisher.

“I said to myself earlier today that losing is not an option,” said Hemsley, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. “I just wanted to win. I knew we’d play our best. I knew we had come to win.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Spartans only led 39-35, but built the lead to 45-35 on a three-pointer by Micah Robinson and then a traditional three-point play by Malik Fitts.

Robinson was left open far too many times by the Campolindo defenders. He wound up with five 3-pointers in all and had 17 points to go with Hemsley’s 20.

“Guys just find me when I have the hot hand and they kept giving it to me,” Robinson said. “All week we put in a lot of work get this win.”
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Damien got a lift in the final minute of the first half after the Spartans fell behind for the first time in the game at 20-19. They reclaimed a 23-20 lead on a basket by senior guard Andy Torices, who then promptly recorded a steal and layup.

Hansen, who was a force throughout the game, sparked a 7-0 run for the Cougars in the second quarter with a tip-in. He ended the first half with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We knew they had some size and it took me awhile to get started,” said Hansen, who will play next at UC San Diego. “In the second half, I kind of found my groove. I had to use more of my moves and be more intelligent.”

“The toughest part about playing them is we couldn’t replicate what they do in practice,” said Campolindo head coach Matt Watson, whose team finished 28-5 and was No. 16 overall in this week’s state rankings. “The mean streets of Moraga are only so tough. They (Damien) were just so long it was ridiculous. It was like spiders coming at you.”

Dunn also talked about how the Baseline League prepared his team for its run to the state title.

“We knew it was going to be a great league before the season started,” he said. “I thought all of the teams were well-coached and the different styles of play really helped us. We had the experience of playing against a team like Campolindo. Etiwanda (CIF Southern Section Open Division finalist) really helped with that.”

Sophomore Remy Martin is on the move for Sierra Canyon. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Sophomore Remy Martin is on the move for Sierra Canyon. Photo: Willie Eashman.


The boys’ team from Sierra Canyon came into this game like the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament: highly-ranked with plenty of hoopla and a ton of highly-regarded underclass recruits.

Its opponent, NorCal representative University, didn’t do – or more importantly say anything — to wake a sleeping giant. Still, the talent discrepancy was rather large and the difference in speed noticeable, as Sierra Canyon raced to a 25-point victory to claim its first CIF state title.

Unlike the University of West Virginia — which fell to Kentucky 78-39 in the regional semifinal on Thursday night — University just let its play do the talking and actually gave a valiant effort. The Pacific Heights program, which lost to Stuart Hall (San Francisco) in the North Coast Section D5 championship game but came back to win the D5 NorCal crown, fell to 0-4 in CIF state title games.

Sierra Canyon (26-4), which entered the week ranked No. 30 in the Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 national rankings, had four players in double figures, led by sophomore point guard Remy Martin. He finished with 19 points and seven steals. Sophomore forward Cody Riley added 18 points and 22 rebounds.

Riley’s rebounding mark set a single-game state title game record. It surpassed the previous record of 21 held by Aaron Gordon (Mitty, San Jose 2011), Isaiah Fox (Crossroads, Santa Monica 2001) and Bobby Jones (Dominguez, Compton 2001).

Sierra Canyon out rebounded University (28-8) for the game 54-32, but University only had one more turnover (18-17) than the Trailblazers.

“It’s a great feeling to win state,” said Riley, one of four sophomore starters for Sierra Canyon. “It’s something we set out to do a long time ago.”

Sean Gilmore (23) of S.F. University applies the block against Sierra Canyon's Remy Martin. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Sean Gilmore (23) of S.F. University applies the block against Sierra Canyon’s Remy Martin. Photo: Willie Eashman.

“I’m thrilled for Cody,” Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols said. “He deserves to have his name in the record books. The entire team is happy for him.”

Senior guard Brandon Lew led the Red Devils with 15 points and a team-high three assists. Junior forward Sean Gilmore was Uni’s other double-digit scorer with 10 points.

University trailed 13-0 to begin the game and scored its first points of the game with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter on a Gilmore 3-pointer. After relaxing and realizing they had nothing to lose, the Red Devils played a bit better the rest of the quarter. They trailed 16-10 going into the second period. After University closed its deficit to four points (16-12), Sierra Canyon promptly went on a 14-1 run and led 36-23 at halftime.

Sierra Canyon, which only lost in-state to L.A. City Section Open Division champ Fairfax and to CIFSS Open Division finalist Etiwanda, was playing in this division because of its loss to the Eagles in the CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals. Had it beat Etiwanda for the second time this season in that game, Sierra Canyon would have played in the SoCal Open regional and University would have played an opponent it wouldn’t have been such a big underdog.

“Our athletic director called the CIF to request to put us in the open division,” Nichols said. “After that, we could only concentrate on playing who was in front of us.”

After over a two-week lay-off between the CIFSS playoffs and the regionals, the young team with the high expectations kept its focus and fulfilled what it had set out to do from the beginning of the season.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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One Comment

  1. Dick Sands
    Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you – I love reading many of your articles on high school sports……..

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