NorCal Tip Off Classic Recap

Players of the Game in the final two contests at Saturday's NorCal Tip-Off Classic were Elijah Hardy of Bishop O'Dowd & Jordan Brown of Woodcreek. Photos: Harold Abend.

Players of the Game in the final two contests at Saturday’s NorCal Tip-Off Classic were Elijah Hardy of Bishop O’Dowd & Jordan Brown of Woodcreek. Photos: Harold Abend.

Here’s the results and recap from the 10th Annual NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.). State No. 15 Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland knocks off preseason boys hoops state No. 1 Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, 70-63, after trailing 17-1 early. Please make sure to check out GrassrootsHoops.net on Sunday evening for exclusive player rankings from the one-day, seven-game event.

RELATED: NorCal Tip-Off Classic Player Rankings

2016 NorCal Tip-Off Classic Results
(Teams listed by CalHiSports.com preseason state ranking)

Game 7: No. 15 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 70, No. 1 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 63 

The main reason Bishop Montgomery was ranked as California’s preseason No. 1 team and No. 7 in the preseason FAB 50 produced by Ballislife.com was the experience and approach of its five returning starters off a team that lost in the SoCal Open Division final to eventual mythical national champ Chino Hills. With the Knights, what you see is what you get, and going into this game they were the prohibitive favorite against a team with a comparable talent level, but less experience and a less mature approach to preparing for a looming battle.

Bishop O’Dowd’s inexperience at the highest level of California basketball was offset by Bishop Montgomery missing one of its best players, junior guard David Singleton, because of a lingering foot injury and San Diego St.-bound Jordan Schakel being limited by a knee injury that made him a game-time decision. Schakel did play off the bench, but after Bishop Montgomery used its skill and intensity to jump out to a 17-1 lead, it looked as though the injuries would hardly matter and the Knights would roll to their first win of what should be an outstanding season.

Bishop O'Dowd head coach Lou Ritchie gives instructions to guard Austin Walker in 2015 Open Division state final. Photo: Willie Eashman

Bishop O’Dowd head coach Lou Ritchie gives instructions to guard Austin Walker in 2015 Open Division state final. Photo: Willie Eashman

A realization happened along the way, however, as O’Dowd’s talented guards figured out what head coach Lou Richie said about shooting too many jumpers being one of the main causes of the early large deficit was indeed true. After the Dragons’ players realized the talent disparity between the two clubs was basically non-existent, regardless of what the rankings said, and they could beat Bishop Montgomery players off the dribble for high percentage shots, the tide of the game completely changed.

To say the game did a complete 180 is an understatement.

O’Dowd took total control of the game, building a 60-41 lead before holding on for a seven-point victory to upset the state’s top-ranked team before a lively crowd at in the marquee game of the seven-game, one-day event at Newark Memorial High School. It was just an incredible turnaround to see an underdog outscore a legitimate, nationally ranked team by 35 points after trailing by 16 before it netted a field goal.

“Our fight was the difference,” said Bishop O’Dowd junior shooting guard Naseem Gaskin, who finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. “We hit a lot of adversity last year and we learned a lot from that. We never got down on each other.”

“I told the guys there was a reason we were down 17-1,” Richie said. “We started 2-of-13 from the 3-point line, but made 11-of-13 free throws. I told them, ‘Hey guys, guess what’s going to work?'”

Gaskin’s backcourt running mate, left-handed junior point guard Elijah Hardy, tied for a game-high with 29 points. He did hit some deep pull-up jumpers that were impressive, but did his most damage driving to the basket. Once Hardy and Gaskin knew they could effectively blow by off the dribble, their confidence grew as did the possibility of O’Dowd pulling off the comeback, upset win. There was a late lapse, but the Dragons sealed the game when 6-foot-10 sophomore power forward Raymond Hawkins hit an off-balance half hook shot to give his team a 69-61 lead with 34 seconds remaining. He also hit two clutch free throws with just under a minute remaining and threw down the dunk of the event, a coast-to-coast one-handed throw down, that sparked O’Dowd in the second quarter after its slow start.

Hawkins finished with 10 points (making 3-of-4 field goal attempts) and added seven rebounds for Bishop O’Dowd (1-0).

Oregon State-bound shooting guard Ethan Thompson scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Bishop Montgomery (0-1). He scored 18 in the first half. Schakel was the Knights’ only other double-digit scorer with 11 points. The preseason No. 1 team in the state scored 18 points combined in the second and third quarters after taking a 20-11 lead at the end of the first period.

Bishop O’Dowd’s victory was its second in three years in the marquee game of the event. Two years ago when the Dragons had Cal standout Ivan Rabb, the 2015 Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball, they defeated national power Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas en route to a CIF Open Division state title and wire-to-wire state No. 1 run. Last season, Moreau Catholic of Hayward defeated a talented Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth team that was preseason No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in the country by at least one national poll.

So what does this O’Dowd’s victory mean? It signifies a talented SoCal team won’t have an easy time winning the NorCal Tip-Off Classic’s main event because the pressure is on the higher ranked team that usually travels from the South. It means Bishop Montgomery’s injuries will be factored into its rankings position when the first regular season Top 20 is published, as will the large lead great teams do not give up in that fashion. It also means Bishop O’Dowd will likely be a serious NorCal Open Division title contender despite a team with a youthful disposition.

“We got some young guys on our team, and some goofballs, but were starting to get more focused,” Gaskin said.

The victory also marked the 100th career win for Richie. He reached the milestone against only 26 defeats.

“In reality, how many coaches have been put in this position?….I’m very fortunate,” Richie said. “I’m on the coattails of great coaches at a program with great players. I have one of the best coaching staffs in the country and we’re a family.”

Game 6: No. 19 Woodcreek (Roseville) 80, Newark Memorial (Newark) 52  

The game was close for one quarter, as Woodcreek led 21-15, but the Timberwolves’ talent level was the difference as they won going away. After Capital Christian’s thrilling overtime victory over Alemany, it was going to be hard-pressed for this game to match the electricity because of the talent level disparity, but the fans got a chance to see one of the nation’s best juniors leave his imprint.

That player was Jordan Brown, the state’s class player of the year by Cal-Hi Sports the past two seasons. The talented 6-foot-10 post player led five Woodcreek (1-0) players in double figures with 27 points. Brown also grabbed a whopping 25 rebounds, controlling the paint and erasing any doubt who was the best player on the floor and what team was going to win after the first quarter. Brown had a couple of turnovers in the first quarter and four in the first half, but those were the only negatives in an otherwise dominant performance.

Decaurey Brown, a 5-foot-11 senior, was Newark Memorial’s only player in double-digit scoring with a game-high 28. He had 21 of the Cougars’ 26 points at halftime when the Cougars trailed 39-26.

Game 5: No. 18 Capital Christian (Sacramento) 82, No. 11 Alemany (Mission Hills) 71 OT 

In a showdown of two evenly matched state-ranked teams, it turned out to be the best game of the one-day event, with the NorCal team overcoming a 17-point deficit late in the third period to pull out the victory in overtime.

Capital Christian (1-0) was able to take total control the final two minutes of the third period, the final quarter and overtime behind the play of 6-foot-4 shooting guard Zach Chappell. His relentless energy and hustle brought the Cougars back, as he hit two free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining after being fouled on a drive. Chappell also scored on a conventional 3-point play with 16.5 seconds remaining to make the score 64-63. Alemany (0-1) had a chance to go up by three points with 13.3 seconds remaining, but Brandon Dante Davis (14 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) made just one of two free throws. After Chappell’s free throws, Alemany had a chance to get off a potential game-winning field goal, but an exchange between Davis and D.J. McDonald was bobbled and the Warriors couldn’t get a clean look.

It was all Capital Christian in overtime, as the Cougars played with more energy and pulled away with a 17-6 advantage.

Chappell finished with 38 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while an aggressive style allowed him to take 19 free throws and make 15 of them. Ranked No. 22 in the 2018 Cal-Hi Sports player rankings, Chappell made a strong case to move up in the next rankings shuffle with nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in addition to his point total.

“We showed a lot of fight to come back,” Chappell said. “We were motivated by the chance to play and we came to turn heads. We’re going to be a team to watch, especially when we get Rick (Barros) and Tolu (Jacobs) back.”

Austin Alexander, a 6-foot-6 senior, added 14 points and seven rebounds for Capital Christian. Trey Jones, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, was the team’s third-leading scorer with 10 points, including three 3-pointers.

McDonald, a 5-foot-11 junior, scored a team-high 31 points for Alemany with 15 of those coming on five 3-pointers.

The game was also the West Coast debut for 6-11 junior Fred Odhiambo of Alemany. The Kenyan transplant who played high school basketball at a small school in Pennsylvania last season displayed the ability to block shots and make an impact on defense with his length and hustle. Odhiambo finished with nine points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.

Game 4: No. 23 Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 72, Immanuel (Reedley) 63 

Despite losing a strong senior class, the Mariners from the North Coast Section showed they still have the makings of a NorCal open division team, outscoring one of the CIF Central Section’s better teams, 22-16, in the final period to pull out the victory. Grand Canyon-bound point guard Damari Milstead gave Moreau Catholic (1-0) all the momentum it needed going into the final period by nailing a straightaway buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Mariners a 50-47 lead.

Milstead finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Also scoring 27 points for Moreau Catholic was the No. 1 prospect in the Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 for freshman (Class of 2020), 6-foot-5 wing guard Kyree Walker. In his first varsity game, Walker displayed a nice combination of power, ball skills, open court quickness and good jump shooting. He made 11-of-15 field goal attempts and added nine rebounds and three assists.

With a young squad with talented new parts, the one area a coach can count on to pay dividends is team defense. That’s exactly what Moreau Catholic coach Frank Knight got from his group and that defense created scoring opportunities. Only Milstead and Walker scored in double figures, but the trapping, pressing and defensive quickness set the tone early and gave the Mariners a 29-13 advantage in the turnover department.

“We wanted to make sure to speed it up a bit,” Knight said. “I’m satisfied with our defense and with our young guys; we’ll get better as we go.”

Forward Darrin Person Jr., a Cal-St. Bakersfield signee, led Immanuel (0-1) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He had some powerful finishes early to keep the Eagles within range, but the turnovers and poor outside shooting (6-of-21 from 3-point range) began to take its toll. Junior guard Nate Kendricks added 20 points for Immanuel.

Game 3: Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 70, Berkeley 59

It was a competitive game for a quarter, when CBS took control in the second and third quarter and won going away in a Sac-Joaquin versus North Coast Section tussle. CBS (1-0) outscored the Yellowjackets 13-7 in the second period and 21-17 in the third.

Leading the way for the Falcons was 5-foot-9 point guard Andre Albason, who impacted the game all over with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He set up teammates for easy buckets and Berkeley (0-1) had trouble slowing down 6-foot-7 senior post Elias King, who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, two steals and three assists.

Berkeley struggled from the field, shooting 37 percent (23-62), while Christian Brothers shot 57 percent (27-47). The Yellowjackets’ best player, 6-foot-2 junior Ben Baker, scored 17 points, but made only 6-of-19 shots from the field. Berkeley was led in the scoring department by 6-foo-4 senior Sean Spikes, who finished with 22 points (8-13 FG) and five rebounds.

Game 2: Dublin 75, Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 64

The Gaels rode some hot shooting to hold off a Las Lomas (0-1) team that made a spirited comeback in the third quarter, only to fall flat in the final eight minutes. After leading 41-39 at halftime, Dublin (1-0) trailed 57-53 entering the fourth period, as Las Lomas outscored the Gaels, 18-12, in the third period, only to be outscored in the fourth, 22-7. Las Lomas trailed 19-8 early in the game.

Dublin shot 59 percent (31-53) from the field and had four players score in double figures, while Las Lomas shot 41 percent (24-58) from the field.

Leading the way for Dublin was 6-foot-6 junior Jack Nielsen, who did not miss a field goal attempt (8-8) and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Steven Houston, a 6-foot-4 senior, had a nice double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Robbie Beasley, a 6-foot-1 freshman ranked No. 8 in the initial Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 for 2020, had 14 points in his high school debut, including nine in the fourth period.

Robert Prince, a 6-foot-1 junior, had an outstanding game for Las Lomas, finishing with 23 points on a variety of pull-up and deep range shots.

Game 1: Monte Vista (Danville) 68. St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) 58

In a game involving two bubble clubs in the state rankings, it was the perennial East Bay Athletic League contender coming away with a season-opening victory. Monte Vista (1-0) got key buckets from junior guard Mark Castro and an excellent game from senior guard Austin Fadal. Castro hit a buzzer-beating field goal entering the fourth quarter to give the Mustangs a 48-42 lead and his 3-pointer made it 55-45 halfway through the fourth period.

Castro finished with 17 points, including three 3-pointers, while Fadal finished with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. St. Patrick-St. Vincent (0-1) got a game-high 25 points from senior wing Tavian Henderson.

RELATED: NorCal Tip-Off Classic Player Rankings


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6 Comments

  1. Dennis Brown
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Hello I’m writing to correct you on the player Decaurey Brown his Height is 5’11 not 5’8 and can that be changed because for college recruiters we would like his height corrected thanks and have a nice day
    Dennis Brown 510 921-8808

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted November 27, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dennis, why is Decaurey listed in the program as 5-8? Usually programs give young players an inch or 2, not take away 3.

      • Dennis Brown
        Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        that has been the same since he was a Sophomore they never changed it this is the 3rd year in a row they’ve listed him as 5’8 he is listed as 5’11 on maxprep and I took him to his physical this year thanks for your response and would be truly grateful for the correction thanks so much and have a great day.

        • Ronnie Flores
          Posted December 3, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          Gotcha, seems odd. I’ll change it.

  2. Chris Kinder
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I saw him play last night and stood by him at halftime. 5-10 or 5-11 is right. either way, he certainly carried his team, which is low on talent otherwise.

  3. Dennis Brown
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Ron
    I wasn’t saying that the height mis print was your fault i was just asking could it be changed but its too late we totally understand i don’t know where the info comes from when they make the program but thanks for responding a have a great day

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