By winning CIF state titles on Friday, Corona Roosevelt’s Steve Singleton (D1) and Rolling Hills Prep’s Harvey Kitani (D5) make history by becoming the second and third coaches to win state championships at two different programs. Mission of San Francisco (D3) makes history of its own by becoming the first public school from the City By The Bay to win a CIF state title. Read notes and quotes from each of the victors and check back late Saturday night for day two recaps.
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Roosevelt (Eastvale) 54,
James Logan (Union City) 45
In a game that got off to a slow start offensively for both teams, leave it to Roosevelt’s energizer bunny to kick start the Mustangs from their early-game coma. That player is 6-foot-5 forward Matt Mitchell and he just happens to be one of the best players in the state.
After Logan scored the first points on the game on two free throws by senior Edra Luster with 4:41 remaining in the first quarter, Mitchell answered with a bucket and his Mustangs never looked back, as Roosevelt rolled to its first ever state title in its first championship appearance. With the victory, Roosevelt will finish as the state’s highest-ranked non-open regional playoff participant after losing in the CIF Southern Section Open Division quarterfinals. Roosevelt is also the second Riverside County team to ever win a CIF state title, joining King of Riverside (2001-02).
For head coach Steve Singleton, it is his second CIF title and he becomes only the third person to win a boys CIF state title at two different schools. The second one actually happened earlier in the day, as Harvey Kitani (L.A. Fairfax) got it done with Rolling Hills Prep in D5. The first was Frank Allocco at Northgate of Walnut Creek and De La Salle of Concord.
This one was a bit different for Singleton. In 2000-01, he inherited a talented Dominguez of Compton team that included NBA big man Tyson Chandler, while this team had to fight and scratch with BIG VIII League rival Corona Centennial the past two years to gain statewide acclaim. Singleton molded this veteran unit into a club tough enough to defeat its rival five times, including in the SoCal D1 regional final, and hold off a pesky Logan club.
“I’ve known Harvey for a long time, going back to when I was an assistant at Dominguez and we played (Fairfax) all the time,” Singleton said. “Last year we played him in the first round and won at the buzzer. I have all the respect in the world for him. To be mentioned with someone with, what, 800 wins is humbling.
“I appreciate everything Russell (Otis) did for me at Dominguez, but this one is more special. It’s more my program, my footprint. We do a lot of things here that we did at Dominguez, especially on defense. This is the ultimate goal and we got it today.”
Roosevelt (26-8) led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter and took control of the game in the second period. The Mustangs led 27-20 at halftime as Mitchell had 13 points, five rebounds and one big blocked shot on Luster right before the buzzer. Roosevelt led James Logan (28-6) by near double digits for a majority of the second half, except for a mini-run by the Colts (who split with D2 NorCal representative Moreau Catholic of Hayward in Mission Valley League play) early in the fourth period. The score was 39-29 to begin the fourth period and the Colts had a chance to cut it to four with just over five minutes remaining in the game, but couldn’t convert the front end of a one-and-one situation. After the Mustangs held off that mini-threat, they rebuilt their lead and Singleton was able to substitute liberally in the final minute.
Mitchell, a recruiting steal for Cal-State Fullerton, finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and thee blocks. He made 9-of-10 free throws, had five steals and was able to clean up a lot of his teammates’ misses by simply beating every other player to the front of the rim. No one else scored in double figures for the Mustangs, as Cal-bound shooting guard Jemarl Baker struggled from the field and finished with nine points. The Mustangs, however, got key contributions from senior Xavier Preston (eight points, 4-of-5 field goals) and John Davis (six points, 2-of-2 from field, 2-of-2 from line).
“It’s a great feeling knowing that the hard work paid off,” Mitchell said.
Guard Noah Conner led Logan with 14 points, including nine in the first half. Sophomore Gabriel Hawkins came off the bench to net 13 points and senior Jordan McGlory added 10. As a team, Roosevelt made 17-of-46 shots from the field, while Logan made 16-of-46. The difference in the game was Roosevelt made nine more free throws and Logan lost guard Ryan Parilla to an ankle injury. He played only seven minutes total and did not score.
“For me, the difference is that we lost our leading scorer,” Logan coach Mel Easley said. “Gabe played great tonight and we played solid on defense, but not having Ryan no doubt hurt.”
Division III: Mission (San Francisco) 82,
Villa Park 75 (OT)
With 1:56 remaining in regulation, Mission held a 65-58 lead and in many respects that didn’t play to its advantage in this state title game. Coming in, the Bears won 34 games against only one loss by playing a frenetic style with an emphasis on running, trapping and good passing. According to head coach Arnold Zelaya, running clock and shooting free throws was not the Bears’ strong suit.
Mission let Villa Park get back in the game and tie it with some untimely fouls, a 3-pointer by the Spartans’ Caleb Banuelos, and free throws, none bigger than the two Myles Franklin nailed with 9.1 seconds remaining that tied the game at 65. Mission didn’t get a shot on its last possession of regulation and the Spartans seemingly had all the momentum heading into the extra period.
But with its scrappy disposition and with the never-say-die attitude it has displayed all season, Mission exploded for 15 points in overtime to win a historic CIF state title. With the victory, Mission is the first ever San Francisco public school to capture a CIF state tile in any division. Only one other city public school, Washington, has ever played for a state championship and that was in the first year of the modern era in 1982 when the Eagles lost to Carson.
“I’m really speechless right now,” Zelaya said. “These guys fought and clawed all year long and fought for respect of all the public schools. Clock management and free throw shooting has been an issue all season long, but it’s all love and compassion, plus these guys share the ball.”
It was 74-70 with 1:03 remaining in overtime when Mission (35-1) senior Tyrese Johnson scored a press break lay-up and then came up with a quick steal. Jayden Foston converted the turnover to give the Bears all the cushion it needed. Senior guard Niamey Harris, one of the state’s top Grid-Hoop athletes and an underrated talent, put an exclamation point on the historic win with a one-handed slam dunk in the closing seconds. Harris made 10-of-16 field goals (including 2-of-5 on 3-pointers) and 9-of-15 free throws to finish with 31 points. He also had seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and six steals. Boston finished with 21 points.
Villa Park (27-7) was led by the Northeastern-bound Franklin with 28 points. The senior guard made 13-of-14 free throws for a team that stayed in the game with its work at the charity stripe. The Spartans made 21-of-23 as a team, while Mission missed 14-of-31 attempts. Banuelos added 17. Villa Park was also hurt by the 20 turnovers Mission forced.
“We play together, we’re all strong and we’re a family,” Foston said.
Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 47, St. Francis CCC (Watsonville) 46
In a game we figured would be close the whole way between two teams looking for its first state title, it was the SoCal representative that came up with the big rebounds and defensive stop it needed to win. RHP sophomore guard Chris Koon scored the final two baskets for the Huskies, including the game-winner on a break-out lay-up with 1:07 remaining after senior Ivo Lasich of St. Francis CCC (29-3) banked in a 3-pointer to give the Sharks their last lead.
After Koon (team-high 13 points) missed the front end of a one-and-one situation for Rolling Hills Prep (30-2) with 17 seconds remaining, Sharks’ coach Ed Kelly elected not to call a timeout and allow RHP’s Harvey Kitani the opportunity to set up his defense. St. Francis CCC either started its penetration from too far or waited too late to make its move, as the only shot attempt it could muster in the final 10 seconds was a desperation 3-pointer from Lasich (9 points) that just grazed the front of the rim. RHP corralled the rebound to secure the coveted state title.
In addition to Koon, RHP had two players reach double figure scoring and out-rebounded St. Francis CCC, 30-24. Jason Gallo, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, was the Sharks’ only double-digit scorer with 15 points.
“I have complete and total confidence in our guys,” said Kelly. “I thought it was to our advantage to not allow them to set anything (defense) up. Today I was wrong. In hindsight, everyone is a genius. I had total confidence and would do it again.”
Kitani said he was a bit surprised the Sharks didn’t call timeout, but would have used fouls if St. Francis CCC did. For Kitani, he not only won a state championship in his first year at a program in which the team only carries one senior, he joined Frank Allocco as the second boys coach in state history to win CIF state titles at two different schools. Kitani, who went over 800 career victories during the season, previously won in D1 at state power L.A. Fairfax in 2004 and 2007. Allocco won at Northgate of Walnut Creek in 1995 and at De La Salle of Concord in 2000 and 2006.
“It’s a big deal and I’m thankful,” Kitani said. “Compared to the other titles, it feels even better, because of where they came from (since beginning of the season). The students, school and parental support has been great.”