It’s too hard to choose against the SoCal teams once again in this year’s top two games of the CIF State Basketball Championships, which will be held this weekend at Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento. But there are unknowns. Bishop Montgomery didn’t exactly light the gym on fire when it opened the season in Northern California and Roosevelt has never been to the state finals before.
RELATED: Girls BB Open & D1 Predictions | Girls BB D2-D5 Picks | Boys BB D2-D5 Picks
Note: We hope you enjoy this free story on CalHiSports.com. To see next week’s final State Top 20 & final 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.
(All comments, predicted final scores done with utmost respect to all participants, coaches)
State No. 1 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 30-2 vs. No. 4 Woodcreek (Roseville)
32-2, Saturday, 8 pm
The marquee game of the CIF state championships pits the two teams we expected to be in this game since late December. Not too many others expected this matchup, and quite frankly for a while it looked like Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) was unbeatable and would represent SoCal.
Not many others expected Woodcreek to emerge from NorCal, either, (going with No. 7 Sheldon of Sacramento instead) but when we evaluated them in holiday tournaments against some of the state’s best teams, we knew 6-foot-10 junior center Jordan Brown could be the difference-maker and he has been in the playoffs. Brown went for 38 points and 14 rebounds in a respectable loss to defending open champ and state No. 3 Chino Hills and finished with 31 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots in the regional final victory over Sheldon. Brown will have to stay out of foul trouble and work quickly against double teams because few teams in the state can attack doubles or defend bigger frontlines better than the Knights. While Brown gets most of the attention, senior guard Tyrell Roberts is having an excellent senior campaign and he and his backcourt mates shoot it well enough and can hit enough timely 3-pointers for Woodcreek to pull off the upset.
Bishop Montgomery fell in its opener to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and has not lost to another California team all season long. Coach Doug Mitchell actually feels that loss might have taken some pressure off his team (which wasn’t at full strength in November and December) and his focus this season was to get his team peaking at the right time. It’s a bit scary to think his two best players (senior Mr. Basketball candidate Ethan Thompson and junior guard Davy Singleton) did not make a field goal in the first half of the regional final versus No. 3 Mater Dei and the team still played good enough team defense and had enough offense to defeat No. 2 Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
That scenario probably won’t happen again, so Woodcreek will need to slow down one of those two and hope Montgomery doesn’t go on one of its vintage second half runs. The key in its post-season wins has been the emergence of sophomore guard Gianni Hunt and the rugged work of senior Jordan Schakel. Woodcreek’s Chris Cagle does a lot of the same things Schakel does for the Knights, so if he has a big game Woodcreek will have a chance to pull off the upset. In the end, however, Montgomery’s defense and better depth at key spots will be the difference.
Predicted Score: Bishop Montgomery 69, Woodcreek 64
State No. 8 Roosevelt (Corona) 25-8 vs. No. 20 James Logan (Union City) 28-5,
Friday, 8 pm
In a battle of two teams that did not win CIF section titles, Roosevelt has faced and beaten the tougher slate of teams, but Logan is peaking at the right time and doesn’t back down from anyone.
Roosevelt coach Steve Singleton led Dominguez of Compton to a D2 state title three months before his best player, center Tyson Chandler, was the No. 2 pick of the 2001 NBA Draft. Although he doesn’t have that type of talent on this team, Cal-State Fullerton-bound forward Matt Mitchell and Cal-bound shooting guard Jemarl Baker are as good as any 1-2 punch playing in Sacramento. Baker is one of the state’s best outside shooters and Mitchell is simply a Warrior, whether it be rebounding, getting out in transition or coming up with a clutch defensive play.
James Logan head coach Melvin Easley will have to find a way to slow down Mitchell, so the rebounding and inside play of 6-foot-9 senior Edra Luster will be one of the major keys to victory for Logan. The Colts have a nice blend of size, athleticism and discipline with regards to shot selection and will increase their upset chances by effectively using the shot clock and shooting a solid percentage. Both members of Logan’s backcourt, seniors Noah Conner and Ryan Parilla, have the ability to play after high school and will have to outplay and outscore Roosevelt’s role players if NorCal is going to win this game.
Roosevelt relies heavily on Baker and Mitchell for offense, but players such as David Agba, Brennon Wade and Ty Goodlow play hellacious defense and can hit timely shots. If one of them hits in double figures it will be awfully hard to stop the Mustangs from winning this game. On the other hand, Logan is confident, and has a senior-oriented team. If any team in the D1 bracket can withstand a Roosevelt run, it’s the Colts. A very good Corona Centennial team wasn’t able to figure out Roosevelt in five tries and James Logan will give a valiant effort but run out of time to figure out the
Predicted Score: Roosevelt 74, James Logan 63