Woodcreek of Roseville doesn’t let CIF Sac-Joaquin Section rival Sheldon win in a rematch and advances to an Open Division final that will be closer to home than either the section final or the NorCal final. Jordan Brown was again the difference on Saturday, but not the same way he was when the two teams played previously. In the D1 game, James Logan of Union City needed overtime, but the CIF North Coast Section D1 semifinalists kept on advancing with a victory against Palo Alto.
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It was only fitting that the most exciting of the four games on Saturday at Leavey Center on the campus of the University of Santa Clara was the CIF Northern Regional Open Division boys final between CIF Sac-Joaquin Section rivals Woodcreek of Roseville and Sheldon of Sacramento.
In the end, it was top-seeded and state No. 5 Woodcreek (32-2) overcoming a 13-point late third quarter deficit to prevail in a 66-59 victory over second seed and state No. 7 Sheldon.
Just like he’s done all season, it was junior 6-foot-11 Jordan Brown that carried the team on his shoulders in the final moments. The Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman and Sophomore of the Year for the last two seasons, who has several Pac-12 offers and even has some interest on the East Coast, had another monster double-double after finishing with 31 points and 17 rebounds with five blocked shots.
With Woodcreek trailing 46-33, Brown led a 16-3 run that knotted things at 49-49 with 4:36 left. His tip-in with 2:44 remaining made it 52-51 and gave the Timberwolves their first lead since 15-13 in the early second quarter.
After Sheldon re-took the lead, Tyrell Roberts (17 points, 10-for-10 on free-throws) hit an NBA-range three-pointer and Woodcreek had a 55-53 lead it would never relinquish.
Twice in the final two minutes Brown came up with blocks that he smothered for rebounds as well and both led to baskets on the other end. His rebound and putback with 51.9 seconds left made it 60-56 and his 17th rebound and 31st point with 31 seconds to go gave the Timberwolves a 62-56 lead and sealed the deal.
“We were down 10 late to Sheldon in the Sac-Joaquin title game,” said Woodcreek head coach Paul Hayes in reference to the Timberwolves 69-68 victory over the Huskies in the CIFSJS D1 championship. “This is a very resilient group that won’t be denied. They just dug down deep.”
Still, the difference was Brown. In that previous meeting two weeks at The University of Pacific in Stockton, although Brown was in foul trouble throughout and didn’t come close to 31 points, it was his two free throws with 0:0.2 showing the clock that accounted for the tying and winning points.
“You can only pound on Jordan so much inside before he takes over,” Hayes remarked.
Naturally Brown agreed with his coach.
“That’s exactly how I feel. I feel like I’m going to outlast them every time – and the team too,” Brown said. “We’ve had other games where we’ve been down but we just kept on fighting.”
Sheldon (30-4) got 31 points from Isaiah Duplechan, but while 15 came in the third quarter he only had two points and committed three of his eight turnovers in the final period. L.J. Williams added 13 points and a team-high six rebounds for a Huskies team that was outrebounded 33-26. They now fall to 1-3 in NorCal title games
Woodcreek goes to 2-3 in the NorCals and now goes to a state title game for a second chance at a crown after losing 70-49 to Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the 2003 CIF Division II state championship. Since both of the Timberwolves’ losses this year have come to Southern California teams (Chino Hills and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake) they’ll be the underdogs going up against a Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) squad that just beat Chino Hills in the SoCal Open Division semifinals. It won’t be Woodcreek playing in a tourney in the south this time, however. It will be the Knights coming north to Sacramento.
James Logan (Union City) 65,
Palo Alto 61 (OT)
Third-seeded James Logan (Union City) overcame a 37-24 late third quarter deficit, and then let a four-point lead in the last minute of regulation slip away before winning 65-61 in overtime over a very game No. 9 seed Palo Alto.
“We didn’t quite dominate inside like we wanted to, and they took us to the wire, but it was a great game and a great win,” said Logan head coach Mel Easley, whose Colts won the rebounding battle 40-27.
Ryan Parilla led Logan (28-5) with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Noah Conner added 17 points and Edra Luster had a solid outing and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Despite being the ninth seed, Palo Alto didn’t look like it and played well, just not good enough to get past a physical Logan group that took over in the extra period. The Vikings had upset upset top seed Dublin to reach the final. Logan entered the bracket after losing to Dublin in the CIF North Coast Section D1 semifinals so getting past Palo Alto was certainly not a given
Palo Alto (26-5) drops to 2-2 in NorCal finals appearances, the last coming in 2006 when the Jeremy Lin led squad went on to win the CIF Division II state championship. The Vikings got 17 points and seven rebounds from Max Dorward and 16 points with four assists from Miles Tention.
Logan is now 2-2 in CIF Northern Regional title games and will play for its first CIF state championship when the Colts meet Roosevelt of Eastvale in the CIF Division I state championship on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbendlmost