There were what you’d call upsets in each one of the four NorCal & SoCal brackets that had games on Friday, but the sizzler of the first night of the CIF Open Division state playoffs had to be the Chino Hills boys topping L.A. City champ Birmingham 130-110 in one of the highest scoring games in state history. We’ll go into detail why we’re not sure completely it’s a state record for a playoff game.
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(Thanks to Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens for doing many of these writeups)
No. 1 seed Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 64, No. 8 Torrey Pines (San Diego) 49
After taking over the state No. 1 ranking due to their win over Santa Ana Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Open Division title game, the Knights stayed in control in turning back the San Diego Section Open Division runner-up. Leading scorers were Fletcher Tynen with 14 points and then Ethan Thompson and Davy Singleton with 12 and 11, respectively. Ethan Esposito topped the Falcons with 14 points. Head coach Doug Mitchell’s crew will now try to slow down Chino Hills when those two play next Tuesday in the semifinals at El Camino College.
No. 4 seed Chino Hills 130, No. 5 Birmingham (Lake Balboa) 110
It was expected that this was going to be a racehorse contest, but this is ridiculous. The Huskies, also ranked No. 4 overall in the state, went bonkers in their first game since losing two weeks ago to Mater Dei in overtime in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Li’Angelo Ball had 52 points while La’Melo Ball only scored 17 but had 15 assists and 10 rebounds. The team’s other big two — Eli Scott (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Onyeka Okongwu (22 points, 15 rebounds) — also had huge outings. Birmingham concluded its best season ever with senior Devante Douvitre pouring in 39 points. The two teams’ combined total of 240 points is tied for third on the all-time state list, a list that is now topped by Chino Hills and Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga at 269 from last month. In that game, the Huskies won 146-123. There is a 243 on the list and then two others for Los Angeles Jefferson games in 1975 and 1978. In the 1975 game, Jefferson defeated Los Angeles High 124-116 and in the 1978 game it was Jefferson defeating Fremont 122-118. We don’t think either one was a playoff game, but don’t know with complete certainty without digging further. We know for sure of course that the Chino Hills-Los Osos game wasn’t in the playoffs and we know that North of Torrance’s 129-114 win against Lawndale in 2006 also wasn’t a playoff game. Chino Hills also scored more than 100 points for the 17th time and is now one away from tying the state record of 18 set in 1996 by Balboa of San Francisco and tied last season by the Huskies.
No. 6 seed St. Augustine (San Diego) 88, No. 3 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 81
For the second season in a row, Sierra Canyon saw a season with a lot of promise get derailed at the end in a loss to a San Diego Section Open Division champion. Last year, the Trailblazers fell to St. Augustine’s arch-rivals from Cathedral Catholic. This time, it was the Saints turn. Despite playing on the road, St. Augustine used a 30-14 second quarter to take control. Beating a team that was No. 3 in the state overall and was No. 1 two weeks ago and also set to play No. 2 Mater Dei next in the semifinals could jump St. Augustine as high as No. 4 in the next rankings. The Saints moved up from No. 8 to No. 7 last week after winning their section crown.
No. 2 seed Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 74, No. 7 Westchester (Los Angeles) 60
It was a solid win at home for the Monarchs, who are looking to duplicate the path of their CIF state title teams in 2011 and 2013 and that’s to come back and win a state title after losing in a CIF Southern Section championship. They took a strong first step in turning back the runner-up team from the L.A. City Section Open Division. Mater Dei 7-foot-1 junior Bol Bol had 22 points and nine rebounds while teammate Michael Wang contributed 16 points and six assists. Head coach Gary McKnight’s squad has already defeated St. Augustine twice and will now have to get past the Saints a third time after that team upset Sierra Canyon.
No. 1 seed Woodcreek (Roseville) 68,
No. 8 Capital Christian (Sacramento) 66
Once again, a Woodcreek game came down to the final seconds. This time, the Timberwolves got the defensive stop as the Cougars had the ball with 10 seconds left but their shot at the buzzer was no good. Ty Roberts had 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter while Jordan Brown had 19 points and 16 rebounds. The Timberwolves will now face the No. 4 seed De La Salle of Concord next week and the last time those two teams faced off was two seasons ago in the Division I regional semifinals which saw the seedings reversed. In that game, Woodcreek went on the road and ended the Spartans’ season with a 43-39 win. That also was the final game for head coach Frank Allocco as the leader of the DLS program. The Timberwolves were No. 5 in last week’s state rankings and although No. 3 Sierra Canyon lost, it likely will be the team that beat Sierra Canyon, St. Augustine of San Diego, moving up.
No. 4 seed De La Salle (Concord) 36, No. 5 Salesian (Richmond) 31
For the second season in a row, the Spartans ended the Pride’s season in the NorCal Open Division as they won a low scoring slugfest in come from behind fashion. Trailing 29-23 after three quarters of play, DLS held the Pride scoreless for over six minutes to start the fourth quarter to take a 31-29 lead before knocking down free throws at the end for a little breathing room. Some on twitter were shocked a team could win a playoff game by scoring 36 points (especially anybody at the Chino Hills-Birmingham game), but grinding, intense defense is how the Spartans have won these games for many years.
No. 6 seed Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 67,
No. 3 St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 61
All four games in NorCal went down to the wire but the Monarchs were the lone lower seeded team to win. They knocked off a state No. 16 Pilots’ teams that was playing without Pepperdine-bound guard Jade Smith, who had to sit out the game because of being ejected during the section semifinals. Riley Grigsby and Joseph Vaughn both finished with 19 points and Mike Diaz added 16 points for Mitty, which led by 17 after three quarters of play. Cameron Ba had 18 points and Darne Duckett scored 14 points in the losing effort. The Monarchs will now play a Sheldon of Sacramento team that they lost to 71-64 back in December.
No. 2 seed Sheldon (Sacramento) 47, No. 7 Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 46
Nearly having their season come to an end on their own floor, the Huskies got a three-pointer from Isaiah Duplechan with 10 seconds left for the win. Elishja Duplechan had 15 points for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I runner up. It was a similar situation for the Huskies like their section championship game against Woodcreek. They once again took the lead with under 10 seconds left but this time they were able to get the stop and no foul was called to send someone to the line, either. Sheldon, ranked No. 8 overall in the state, was on the right side of a one-point decision this time.
No. 1 seed Clovis West (Fresno) 68, No. 8 Troy (Fullerton) 61
We had the visiting Warriors ranked higher than other teams in the bracket so the close nature of the contest was not a surprise. With less than 15 seconds left, Troy was within 64-61. That was when Golden Eagles’ senior point guard Danae Marquez buried a pair of free throws. She next got a rebound and hit two more free throws to account for the final margin. Clovis West, ranked No. 2 in the state behind Archbishop Mitty of San Jose due to a head-to-head loss but now showing at No. 1 in the nation in one computer ranking, will be playing at home again in the semifinals against San Diego Section Open Division runner-up Bishop’s of La Jolla. As the tweets on Friday mentioned, the Golden Eagles just got past one McDonald’s All-American, Kianna Smith of Troy, and will now have to play another one, but Destiny Littleton of Bishop’s is more than that. She’s the all-time state scoring leader and one of the best for a career in U.S. history.
No. 5 seed Bishop’s (La Jolla) 64, No. 4 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 61
There hadn’t been a signature win by Destiny Littleton’s team until this one, and knocking off the runner-up team from the CIFSS Open Division definitely qualifies. A late regular season loss to arch-rival La Jolla Country Day also contributed to the Knights not being in the State Top 20, which will obviously have to change next week. Although the USC-bound Littleton was held below her 44 ppg average by the Wolverines, she got to the free throw line frequently and finished with a game-high 26 points. Teammate Alessandra Aguirre also had a strong outing with 16 points. Harvard-Westlake had a chance to tie at the buzzer when Melanie Hirsch got a good look at a three-pointer but the shot rimmed out. It it had gone in, the game would have extended into overtime.
No. 3 seed Mission Hills (San Marcos) 54, No. 6 Etiwanda 40
After winning an unprecedented fourth straight CIF San Diego Section title, the Grizzlies kept up their strong recent play. And with Bishop’s knocking off Harvard-Westlake, facing a team that beat Bishop’s by 18 in that San Diego final is a fact that should cause concern for Long Beach Poly, which will host the Grizzlies in Tuesday’s semifinals.
No. 2 seed Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 77,
No. 7 Fairfax (Los Angeles) 58
The expected march toward the SoCal Open final between the Jackrabbits and Clovis West didn’t encounter much resistance from the L.A. City Section champs. Poly had a 9-0 run in the early going and a 10-0 run in the second quarter and was never seriously threatened. Jasmine Jones topped head coach Carl Buggs’ squad with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. All-American Ayanna Clark also was dominant with 22 points. Poly is ranked No. 3 overall in the state. One of its losses was in overtime to Clovis West. Poly, Clovis West and Archbishop Mitty were all in the Iolani tourney in Hawaii that Mitty won and they were all at the Nike TOC in Arizona that Clovis West won.
No. 1 seed Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 92,
No. 8 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 71
The top seeded Monarchs (also No. 1 overall in the state rankings) made sure their game wouldn’t come down to the final minutes as they opened up a nine-point lead after the first quarter and by halftime they led 51-28. It was the third time this season they defeated the Fightin Irish after a 20- and 26-point wins earlier this season. Head coach Sue Phillips’ squad will now play the No. 4 seed St. Mary’s of Stockton on Tuesday next week. Last season, the Monarchs played the Rams and ended up on the losing end of a 86-73 final score at the Nike Tournament of Champions.
No. 4 seed St. Mary’s (Stockton) 72, No. 5 Salesian (Richmond) 49
Five Rams scored in double digits with Neenah Young scoring a team-high 15 points while Ariel Johnson and Amaya Oliver both added 12 points. The other two were the duo of Aquira DeCosta and Naje Murray (11 points) who’ve been the ones most prominent on the injury list. It was the second time this season the Rams defeated the Pride as they defeated them 63-41 back in December at the West Coast Jamboree. One year ago heading into the CIF NorCal Open semis, St. Mary’s was riding high as the defending state champions and ranked No. 1 in the nation. That’s when the Rams were shocked by Pinewood of Los Altos Hills and now this year’s team has gotten back to that same point in the season.
No. 3 seed Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 51, No. 6 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 43
The Panthers had a tough first half but a strong second half saw them come from behind and avoid a first round upset against the Dragons. Trailing 18-9 after one quarter of play, they cut the deficit down to five by halftime thanks to holding the Dragons scoreless over the final 3:52 of the first half. Outscoring the Dragons 15-6 in the third quarter, they led 37-33 entering the fourth quarter. The lead then changed hands several times and it was still a two-point game with under one minute left before Pinewood finally pulled away. With the win, Pinewood not only advanced to the Open Division regional semis for the second straight year but the team also avenged an earlier loss to the Dragons.
No. 7 seed Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 48, No. 2 Carondelet (Concord) 47
The lone upset in the Northern California portion of the Open Division on the girls side saw the only No. 2 from either boys or girls go down. The No. 7 seeded Cardinals did the honors and also ousted a team that was No. 5 in last week’s state rankings. It took a basket by Avery Cargill with under 10 seconds remaining to win it. Leading at the end of every quarter, the Cardinals saw the lead go back and forth in the fourth quarter before the game-winning basket on an assist from Hailey Vice-Neat. A battle tested team, the Cardinals earlier this season had two wins over Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco and a win over St. Mary’s of Stockton. In all, Cardinal Newman played six games against teams that would make the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs.