It didn’t gain any style points in doing so, but CIFS Southern Section Open Division champ Bishop Montgomery of Torrance will play for the CIF Open Division state crown next week vs. Woodcreek of Roseville after downing Mater Dei of Santa Ana, 60-53. THe Knights use big fourth quarter to overcome 36-33 deficit heading into the fourth. Also winning on Saturday in D1 region final at the Long Beach State Pyramid was Roosevelt of Eastvale.
Note: We hope you enjoy this free story on CalHiSports.com. To see next week’s new State Top 20 & new divisional state rankings will require a Gold Club membership. Some of the annual all-state teams this year and all state record updates also will be for Gold Club only. You can get this membership, however, for as low as $9.99 for three months. For info, CLICK HERE.
Montgomery Guts Out Win
to Advance to CIF Open Final
In a SoCal Open regional final game with tons of whistles and game stoppages, the team with the stars who woke up in the final period gave it enough pop to put it over the hump and into next week’s CIF State Open Division final in Sacramento.
That team was Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, which was trailing Mater Dei of Santa Ana, 36-33, entering the final period. Up until that point, the Knights’ star guards, senior Ethan Thompson and junior David Singleton, had shot a combined 1-of-14 from the field.
Mater Dei was battling, but also struggling offensively. Bol Bol, Mater Dei’s 7-foot junior center, didn’t have a field goal up into that point, either. Bishop Montgomery kept up its defensive intensity, but the Monarchs couldn’t contain Singleton and Thompson for the entire 32 minutes, as Singleton erupted for 13 fourth quarter points and Thompson made contributions on both sides of the ball to give the Knights a 60-53 victory before 4,537 fans at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
“I just had to have confidence in myself (in fourth quarter),” said Singleton, who finished with 15 points, including three fourth quarter 3-pointers. “You’ve got to keep shooting. You can’t make them all but can’t stop.”
With the victory, state No. 1 Bishop Montgomery (30-2) advances to its first-ever CIF Open state final and its fifth overall state championship game. It was also the Knights’ second victory over state No. 2 Mater Dei in two weeks, as they defeated the Monarchs in the CIF Southern Section Open Division title game. Montgomery also defeated defending CIF Open division champ Chino Hills and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth on its way to the CIF open final versus Jordan Brown and Woodcreek of Roseville.
Thompson, a state Mr. Basketball candidate headed to Oregon State, finished with 13 points, making only 3-of-15 shots from the field, but he came up with some key rebounds and hockey assists in the final period. The one assist Thompson was credited for, on a drive and kick to sophomore guard Gianni Hunt for a 3-pointer, gave Bishop Montgomery a 49-42 lead with 3:20 to go.
With the game tied 38-38, Singleton hit his second 3-pointer and his third gave the Knights, whose only in-state loss (so far) was to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in their first game, a 46-42 lead. Behind the scoring drives and heady play of Cal-bound Justice Sueing, Mater Dei (33-3) still had opportunities to win the game down the stretch.
After four consecutive free throws by Hunt (12 points), Mater Dei junior guard Spencer Freedman made two free throws and came up with a steal and lay-up in the backcourt to cut the Monarchs’ deficit to two points (55-53). Just as it looked like Mater Dei had a golden opportunity to snatch back the momentum and potentially the game, the Monarchs were called for two offensive fouls in the last 30 seconds to deny the program an opportunity to advance to its 17th CIF state final under head coach Gary McKnight.
“I didn’t expect a lot of things that happened tonight (on the fact that his two top players hadn’t done much in first three quarters),” said Bishop Montgomery head coach Doug Mitchell. “Ethan hasn’t been 0-for-9 all year. The end was crazy, but those were the right calls, though.
“It’s fantastic what we’ve been able to do the last couple of weeks. Mater Dei doesn’t lose twice in a row to the same team very often.”
Sueing finished with game-highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. Freedman was the Monarchs’ other double digit scorer with 16 points.
For Bishop Montgomery, it did slow down Bol, but the task next week to slow down Brown will be even tougher. It’s nothing new, however for the state’s top ranked team to slow down bigger opponents on its way to national prominence. The program has been nationally ranked since the 2012-13 season, Thompson was a freshman standout on a team that won the CIF D4 title the next year, won a CIFSS Open division title his sophomore year and is currently ranked No. 7 in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings.
“It’s great to go (to state) no matter what, but it’s nice to say it was in the open,” said Thompson, who was joined on that 2014 team by current starter Jordan Schakel. “You’re coming through a lot of great teams. It shows we have some talented players and great coaches.”
D1: Roosevelt (Corona) 68, Centennial (Corona) 65
The two interesting aspects of this SoCal regional involving Big VIII League rivals was not so much the two squads had already played four times, but that one of them had lost the previous four meetings and still had the opportunity to advance to a CIF state title game. It also was the first time these two actual lineups had faced each other.
That unique situation was caused by player injuries, 30-day sit outs, and roster additions for Centennial. In the end, it didn’t matter what lineup was on the floor because the slightly better team won each time, as Roosevelt closed a close game behind the play of Cal-State Fullerton-bound forward Matt Mitchell to advance to its first ever CIF state title game.
With the game tied at 54-54, Roosevelt (25-8) took control even after Mitchell picked up his fourth foul halfway through the final period. Cal-bound Jemarl Baker (17 points) and Ty Goodlow (5 points) made back-to-back layups to make it 58-54.
Centennial (27-10) made one last push with the potential to tie the game with just over one minute remaining. On the ensuing possession, Centennial freshman D.J. Davis (8 points) had miscommunication with a teammate on a pass to the top of the key and Mitchell easily picked it off and went in for a dunk to give his team a 62-58 lead with 58 seconds remaining. Mitchell also made four consecutive free throws in the final 35 seconds to keep the Huskies at bay.
Mitchell scored 15 points in the final quarter to finish with a game-high 35. He also made 17-of-18 fee throws to set an individual regional record for most charity stripe makes. The Mustangs made 23-of-26 free throws as a team, while Centennial made 6-of-10. As the previous four games were, this higher-stakes contest was closely played with a 18-13 third quarter advantage for Roosevelt ultimately making the difference.
Centennial was led in defeat by UCLA-bound center Jalen Hill. He scored a team-high 19 points, grabbed a game-high 14 points, dished off five assists and had two steals. Senior guard Isom Butler added 12 points, four assists and two steals.
“I told my athletic director I will be at Roosevelt’s graduation to see Matt Mitchell off,” said Centennial coach Josh Giles, whose program fell to 1-3 in SoCal regional final contests. “He’s killed us every time. Every single time we had a lead in the second half, they found a way to win, and unfortunately, we found a way to lose. Every single game plays out the same, I don’t know what it is.”
When two teams play so many times in the same season, there is always the thought that eventually the lesser team is bound to win. Roosevelt coach Steve Singleton, however, kept his team’s thoughts positive.
“We envisioned going to play for a state title…no negative thoughts,” said Singleton, a Valley of Santa Ana graduate who led Dominguez of Compton to a CIF state title in 2000-01. “Yes, it is hard to beat a good team five times, but it’s also hard to beat a team that you haven’t beaten four times.”