The first champions on the female side crowned at the Golden 1 Center are Windward of Los Angeles (Division I), Rosary of Fullerton (Division III) and Eastside College Prep of East Palo Alto (Division V). Eastside repeated, Windward won its second crown while Rosary topped a school that was going for its fifth title and won its first.
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(D1 story by Harold Abend; D3 & D5 by Mark Tennis)
Windward (Los Angeles) didn’t win a CIF Open Division state title but the school of 400 students got the next best thing after a 53-41 victory over McClatchy (Sacramento) rewarded the girls from West L.A. with a CIF Division I state championship.
With the victory, Windward (30-4) goes to 2-2 in state title games. The Wildcats won the Division IV title in 2011, lost the D4 games in their initial state championship game appearance in 2006, and lost the inaugural Open game in 2013.
Last year’s State Freshman of the Year Charisma Osborne did not disappoint the Golden 1 Center crowd after finishing with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Junior Sela Kay added 10 points in what turned out to be a team effort even though Osborne scored all nine of the Wildcats first quarter points and their first 13 points in the game.
Even so, in the third quarter with Windward unable to shake McClatchy, other players like Kay and sophomore Kaiyah Corona came up with some big plays.
“Some in the media have said we only have one player but that’s far from the truth,” Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “We have 15 players that win and lose as a team.”
The game had five ties but Windward never relinquished the lead, and after the last tie at 29-29 in the late third quarter it was all Windward as the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run, and then after a three-pointer by Richelle Turney of McClatchy for her only points of the game, the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to seal the deal.
“”McClatchy gave us all we could handle today,” Nygaard remarked. “We’ve seen it all this season, like coming from 18 down in one game and Charisma hitting a half-court buzzer beater in another, but we know we can do it and the girls get all the credit for coming together as a team.”
They certainly did come together but without Osborne there is little chance Windward would be anywhere near being the No. 15 team overall in the state. Even so, the sophomore sensation refused to take all the credit.
“I know I do a lot of the scoring but most of my scoring is off my teammates’ passes and screens,” Osborne said.
Although only 11 of her 26 points came in the second half, eight of Osborne’s points came in the big run and she scored the Wildcats last three points as well.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said McClatchy head coach Jeff Ota, who was the longtime boys head coach before taking over the girls program this season. “And Osborne? She’s the best guard we’ve seen. We denied her in the second half but she still got hers and other stepped up. We just couldn’t get the stops. I’m very proud of our girls. We just ran into a better team.”
Utah-bound Jordan Cruz had a team-high 11 points for McClatchy (31-5), and sophomore Kamryn Hall added eight points and a team-high six rebounds, but no other starter had more than six points and the bench contributed only 10 points and a mere one rebound for a Lions team that was out-rebounded 36-28.
Besides attacking the glass on both ends of the floor, Windward seemed to be in the right place at the right time throughout the game.
“Before the game we talked about hitting the floor and getting all the loose balls,” Osborne remarked.
Windward does graduate two senior starters but besides Osborne, Kay and Corona they also return junior power forward Myrrah Joseph (game high seven rebounds) for a Wildcats’ team that should be one of the top Southern California teams in the preseason rankings.
Rosary (Fullerton) 62,
Campolindo (Moraga) 45
After scoring the first seven points of the game, the Royals (30-5) really never looked back in claiming their school’s first state title.
Rosary, which won by 17 after winning the CIF SoCal D3 title game by 20 against Serra of San Diego, showed tremendous improvement over the final weeks of the season.
“It was more of just continuing to play together, coming here and getting comfortable with each other,” said Rosary head coach Rich Yoon, who had to sweat out two overtime wins in the CIFSS Division 2AA playoffs (one of which against Twentynine Palms would have ended the Royals’ season if they had lost). “They came to understand the importance of tempo. We had to keep reminding them to force teams to play to our tempo.”
It’s not like the Royals run-and-gun. It’s more of an inside-out approach and in this game it was the outside shot of freshman Katherine Goostrey and the inside dominance of senior center Rebekah Obinma. Goostrey broke the D3 title game record by making six 3-points and ended with a game-high 26 points. Obinma racked up a triple-double with 12 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Campolindo (27-7) threatened to cut its halftime deficit of 31-18 to single digits late in the third quarter and then when Rosary scored the first six points of the fourth quarter it was over.
“They’re very good,” said Campolindo head coach Art Thoms III. “(Obinma) did a good job clogging the middle. We just never seemed to get into the flow, which is just a tribute to their defense.”
Campo’s Haley Van Dyke, who soared for a NorCal regional record 46 points last week, had 22 points and 25 rebounds against Rosary. She took an amazing 37 shots to get those points, however, and only made one 3-pointer. The Cougars’ other top player, Ashley Thoms, was only 2-of-12 on 3-pointers and was held to eight points.
Rosary also benefitted from playing the rugged competition in the Trinity League where it suffered two of its losses to D2 state finalist Mater Dei of Santa Ana and also lost twice to Orange Lutheran.
“The Trinity tells us where are weaknesses are,” Yoon said. “With all the great coaches and all the great players you know you’re always prepared for something like this.”
Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto) 63,
Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 40
Once it became certain that the defending champion Panthers were going to be in Division V once again, winning a second straight title seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Still, it’s not always easy to go ahead and win those type of championships.
“It was the media that said we were the favorites,” said Eastside head coach Donovan Blythe, whose team lost in the D5 state final to La Jolla Country Day two years ago as an underdog and then won last year’s D5 title in more of a tossup contest with Village Christian (Sun Valley). “We didn’t come here underestimating them. Eventually, I could see them winning a state championship.”
Eastside, which competed in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division and finished 23-8, was never threatened after taking a 13-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and then 34-16 at halftime.
The primary suspense turned out to be how many 3-pointers that sophomore guard Zion Gabriel was going to make. She had the girls record for the most in any state final by halftime (surpassing a record held by Kelsey Plum and Candice Wiggins, both of La Jolla Country Day) and by the end her total of eight was the most in any state final by a boy or a girl. The record for boys is seven set in 2008 by Klay Thompson from Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita.
“Those are definitely some big names,” said Gabriel, who also told the media that her favorite player is indeed the Golden State Warriors’ star. “It’s amazing. I feel a little overwhelmed.”
Gabriel finished with 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting on threes. Kayla Tahaafe didn’t break any state records, but had nine assists, eight rebounds and seven points. Mina Tameilau added 12 points for the Panthers while Kayla Mahan hit on three 3-pointers.
Rolling Hills Prep (32-4), which played in Division 6 in the CIFSS, will return all of its players next season and was led by freshman Aly Maxey with 12 points.
“For us, it was a learning experience,” said Huskies’ head coach Richard Masson. “Our youth showed, but we put forth the effort. We’re a diamond in the rough; they’re polished.”
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
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: