Saturday CIF Boys Finals

Austin Walker of Bishop O'Dowd is about to score the game-tying basket with 10.1 seconds left in Open Division final against Mater Dei. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Austin Walker of Bishop O’Dowd is about to score the game-tying basket with 10.1 seconds left in Open Division final against Mater Dei. Photo: Willie Eashman.

An Ivan Rabb free throw with 0.8 seconds left helps O’Dowd get off the schneid with overtime win over Mater Dei in Open Division. In Division II, La Mirada goes two OTs to beat Archbishop Mitty. In Division IV, De’Anthony Melton makes plays in the final seconds as Crespi triumphs.

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. Division II & Division IV writeups by Ronnie Flores. Open Division by Mark Tennis.

OPEN DIVISION:
BISHOP O’DOWD (OAKLAND) 65,
MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 64

Maybe it’s a good omen for the future career of Bishop O’Dowd All-American Ivan Rabb that he was able to celebrate getting a win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the CIF state finals.

The last two players to help lead their teams to titles over the Monarchs were Jeremy Lin of Palo Alto (2006) and Ryan Anderson from Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (2005) and both are in the midst of successful NBA careers.

Mater Dei's La'vette Parker looks to get by O'Dowd's Jeevin Sandhu during CIF Open Division state championship. Photo: Josh Barber/OCSidelines.com.

Mater Dei’s La’vette Parker looks to get by O’Dowd’s Jeevin Sandhu during CIF Open Division state championship. Photo: Josh Barber/OCSidelines.com.

Neither Lin or Anderson, however, had to endure the pressure that the 6-foot-11 Rabb faced with 0.8 seconds left showing on the clock in this game. With O’Dowd’s eight-game losing streak in state finals and Mater Dei’s streak of four straight state titles on the line, Rabb stood at the free throw line with two shots in a tie score of a contest that already had gone into one overtime.

“I almost had to laugh,” said O’Dowd head coach Lou Ritchie. “It was his last game and here he was in that situation.”

Rabb air-balled the first of those free throws, but he rattled in the second for a 65-64 O’Dowd lead. Mater Dei could only get off a desperation heave that was well short, touching off a wild celebration.

“I didn’t think about the first one or the second one,” said Rabb, who had 19 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks. “I was just glad the second one went in.”

“When Ivan made the second one, I was speechless,” said senior guard Paris Austin, the Boise State recruit who led the Dragons with 21 points and had seven assists. “He came through when we needed a basket. It was indescribable. It’s like a dream come true.”

With the win, the Dragons (28-4) completed a wire-to-wire run at the top of the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings and on Monday will officially be named the State Team of the Year. The Monarchs (29-5) not only had their streak of four straight state titles end, but were prevented from improving their state record total to 12 for winning state titles. They’ll remain at 11, at least until next season.

“We definitely went in thinking that streak (eight straight title game losses) was going to end,” Rabb said. “We could have done it last year, but they got us. Coach (Gary) McKnight does such a great job and they are such a great team. I felt I forced a few shots in the first half, but felt better in the second half.”

Mater Dei had a 55-50 lead with 2:12 left in regulation, but gave O’Dowd an opportunity with 22 seconds remaining on a missed front end of a one-and-one free throw situation. That set the stage for senior guard Austin Walker to hit a game-tying layup with 10.3 seconds on the clock.

The Monarchs still had a chance to win but Rex Pflueger missed a shot and M.J. Cage missed what would have been a game-winning put-back at the final horn.
CIF logo 216
Pflueger and guard K.J. Smith then scored for Mater Dei to get the overtime period started. Yet O’Dowd still came back again and grabbed its first lead of the game at 64-63 with 1:12 left on a high-flying tip-in by Franklin Longrus.

With 36.8 seconds left, Mater Dei had to get a stop and Pflueger came through with a steal. He also got fouled with 25.3 seconds left. Pflueger made the first free throw, but missed the second, resulting in a 64-64 tie.

O’Dowd then went for the last shot. Austin had the ball on the baseline, penetrated toward the lane and got a pass to Rabb. The shot didn’t go in, but it was clear that a foul had been called.

After the officials conferred, they put 0:00.8 seconds on the clock and put Rabb on the line for the deciding free throws.

Television replays also seemed to show an O’Dowd player trying to call a timeout in those last seconds of regulation, but the officials didn’t react. The issue with that is the Dragons didn’t have any left and if noticed it would have been a technical foul.

In addition to Austin and Rabb, Alex Zhao also hit double figures for O’Dowd with 10 points. Longrus added eight points and four rebounds off the bench.

Pflueger turned in an impressive outing for Mater Dei. He had 19 points and was backed up by Smith (13 points), Bailey Stout (12 points, four 3-pointers) and La’vette Parker (11 points).’’

“We didn’t go down without a fight,” Pflueger said. “It just didn’t go our way and we came up short. I am extremely proud of our team to come back from losing against Etiwanda (in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals). It was a great game.”

After the game, some in the media swarmed Rabb thinking he might issue a commitment to Cal since the Bears are one of his two final colleges (the other is Arizona). He didn’t. He indicated he wanted to confer more with his family and said it might not be appropriate to deflect any of the well-deserved attention from his team (and for what was one of the best CIF state finals ever played).

DIVISION II:
LA MIRADA 71,
ARCHBISHOP MITTY (SAN JOSE) 70 (2 OTS)

This was yet another game of attrition at this year’s CIF state championships — the third one of the weekend to go into a second extra period (with a fourth that came in Saturday’s nightcap).

Both teams made big plays that could have broken its opponent’s back, but both the NorCal representative (Mitty) and the SoCal rep (La Mirada) kept fighting. In the end, the team that executed better and had more breaks go its way pulled it out. That team was the Matadores, who won the program’s first CIF state title in its first championship game appearance.

Ben Kone and Kendall Lauderdale battled it out underneath the basket throughout the D2 title game. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Ben Kone and Kendall Lauderdale battled it out underneath the basket throughout the D2 title game. Photo: Willie Eashman.

“The thing that sticks out about me is just our resiliency,” said La Mirada head coach Bryce Jones. “To go into overtime on a shot like that, that could have rattled us. To keep battling the way we did shows our character.”

The shot Jones was referring to was a clutch 3-pointer by Mitty sophomore wing Sebastian Much. With La Mirada (31-5) leading 62-59 after a layup by junior Vittorio Reynoso-Avila (14 points, eight rebounds, three steals), Cameron Korb of Mitty (20-11) missed a runner and La Mirada senior forward Kendall Lauderdale secured the rebound with 10.5 seconds remaining. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation with 1.5 seconds to go – which set the table for Much to calmly swish a 3-pointer on the left wing in front of his own bench to send the game into overtime.

Mitty, a semifinalist in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, held a 12-point lead in the third period, but tired physically in the fourth. Mitty outscored the Matadores 24-12 in the third period to take a 50-41 lead heading into the fourth quarter, where the Monarchs were outscored by the CIFSS Division 2A semifinalist, 21-12.

La Mirada made its fourth quarter comeback with Lauderdale saddled with four fouls and battling Mitty power forward Ben Kone, one of the most powerful low post players in the state. He picked up his fourth with 6:14 remaining in the fourth period and Mitty leading 50-44.

“We wanted to keep doing what we do, you don’t throw everything out,” Jones said of La Mirada’s ability to come back from its deficit. “Kone is just a load; he looks like a NFL tight end out there.”

Kone finished with game-highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds. But in crucial moments, Mitty couldn’t get him the ball to go after Lauderdale, nor could it get the ball to Much for the potential game-winner during the second overtime.

Both teams scored three points apiece in the first overtime period. Reynoso-Avila had a big blocked shot of Dakari Monroe with his team leading 65-64, but Monroe was able to tie the game on a free throw with 37.7 seconds remaining. La Mirada did not get a good look on its final possession of the first overtime and after securing the rebound, Mitty seemed to have an advantage on the break, but Monroe was called for traveling while attempting to shoot the potential game-winner.

In the second overtime, the game was still up for grabs with the shot clock off. La Mirada’s Kai Labasan drove to the basket and was fouled with 9.1 seconds remaining and the score tied 70-70. He converted one free throw then Mitty came down and tried to get the ball to Much. The ball ended up in the hands in Korb, who had to shoot it under duress. The ball was long and La Mirada stormed the court.

“We came out great in the third quarter, but I didn’t do a good job of managing the game, and getting my team the proper rest,” Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy said. “I didn’t manage the substitutions well. I am proud of our guys’ effort.”

Lauderdale led the Matadors in scoring, along with senior forward Dezmon Murphy, with 18 points each. Labasan was La Mirada’s fourth double-digit scorer with 11 points.

“I didn’t even think about having four fouls, I just had to play smarter and just keep my hands straight up,” Lauderdale said. “I have never played against someone like Ben Kone; I respect him a lot.”

Much made 4-of-7 on 3-pointers and finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Nick LaBruna added 14 points for the Monarchs.

La Mirada made 14-of-33 on 3-pointers and it made up for the difference in rebounding, where Mitty held a 45-28 advantage. According to Kennedy, the difference was obvious.

“I look at our turnovers,” Kennedy said. “We had 19 turnovers. With that and you give up 14 3-pointers, it’s tough to battle.”

In perhaps the game-winning moment, De'Anthony Melton blocks shot for Crespi in closing seconds. Photo: Willie Eashman.

In perhaps the game-winning moment, De’Anthony Melton blocks shot for Crespi in closing seconds. Photo: Willie Eashman.

DIVISION IV:
CRESPI (ENCINO) 47,
CAPITAL CHRISTIAN (SACRAMENTO) 44

Somebody in this game was going to win a CIF state title for the first time, so Crespi’s De’Anthony Melton made sure his team was going to be the one holding the hardware at the end.

In a game of runs, Crespi (29-7) made the first big one, shooting 60 percent from the field to build a 31-20 halftime lead.

The Celts only made one field goal in the third quarter, as Capital Christian (27-9) roared back to take a 35-34 lead entering the final period. Crespi was outscored 15-3 and its only field goal came near the end of the period to give it a 34-32 lead, only to see senior guard Justice Shelton-Mosely nail a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to give the Cougars a 35-34 halftime lead.

Capital Christian led 44-40 with just over two minutes to go and looked like the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division IV champions were in complete control.

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That’s when Melton, a 6-foot-4 junior already named the CIF Southern Section Division 4-AA Player of the Year, took over with his rebounding, defense and will to win.

With 2:15 remaining, Melton’s offensive rebound put-back made the score 44-42. With the score tied, Melton then came up with another huge rebound on the offensive end with 40.3 seconds remaining. He was fouled and made one of two free throws to give Crespi a 45-44 lead.

With 30.1 on the game clock and 25 left on the shot clock, the Cougars worked the ball around to look for a good shot. Senior guard Dante Henley (10 points) ended up firing a 3-pointer and Melton was fouled on the rebound he corraled with nine seconds remaining.

Capital Christian wasn’t done, however, as Melton again made just one of two free throws. The Cougars, and Shelton-Mosely specifically, wanted to take the ball to the basket on the move. It’s always hard to defend that play because the defense doesn’t want to foul in a one possession game. Shelton-Mosely got a step on Melton and took it down the left side of the key, only to see the Crespi defender pin block the layup attempt on the back board and grasp the ball to secure the CIF state title.

Edward Ware of Capital Christian tries a shot in the lane against Crespi. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

Edward Ware of Capital Christian tries a shot in the lane against Crespi. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

“Everyone told me that I would have to guard No. 10 (Shelton-Mosely),” Melton said. “I didn’t want to let him roll the ball (to save time). He’s quick and he did get a step ahead of me. Turns up I ended up getting the block, so it worked out good.”

Melton finished with game-highs of 13 points and 13 rebounds along with the understatement of the weekend. No other Crepsi player scored in double-figures.

“I thought I had a chance,” said Shelton-Mosely, who finished with a team-high 11 points and three steals and will be headed in the fall to Harvard. “I told the team, if were going to do anything, it’s going to be on my back. Hats off to him (Melton), he made a great play.

“At the end of the day, we coach Xs and Os, but it’s about players making plays,” said Crespi coach Russell White, who also serves as the school’s athletic director. “He’s the player of the year for a reason.

“In the first half when we shot 60 percent, we just said in the pre-game to shoot open shots. Midway through the third quarter, we needed the defense to step up.”

It was a gut-wrenching loss for Capital Christian. In 2014, the Cougars lost by 10 points to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the Norcal Open Division regional final.

As for Crespi, the Celts ended their season winning 13 of 14 games, including a CIFSS Div. 4-AA title win over Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo, since a 59-58 loss to Mission League rival Alemany of Mission Hills.

“Ever since the Alemany game, our mantra has been to play for 32 minutes,” White said.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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


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