NorCal Tip Off Classic Recap

Isaiah and Evan Mobley were both dominant for preseason state-ranked Rancho Christian in win on Saturday at NorCal TipOff Classic. Photo: @ncalpremierball/Twitter.com.

Here’s the results and recap from the 11th Annual NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Newark Memorial. State No. 5 Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland takes down No. 4 Fairfax (Los Angeles) in the marquee matchup, 58-56. It was the Dragons’ fourth win in the final game of this event in five years. 

RELATED: To see 2017-18 preseason state rankings, CLICK HERE  ; To see the list of major tournaments and showcases involving California’s best teams, CLICK HERE  ; To see a list of all-time preseason No. 1 teams in our current state Top 20 format (1988-89), CLICK HERE ; To see the vast list of transfers that will impact the 2017-18 season, CLICK HERE

2017 NorCal Tip-Off Classic Results
(Teams listed by CalHiSports.com preseason state ranking)

Game 7: No. 5 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 58,
No. 4 Fairfax (Los Angeles) 56

This showdown of highly-ranked clubs had plenty of storylines and the game-play surpassed the drama. For one, the two teams came in as top five clubs in the preseason state rankings and were eager to settle the rankings on the hardwood. Fairfax dealt with the fact head coach Steve Baik was not in attendance because of an important family commitment. The Lions are a veteran team, so that probably didn’t affect them as much as the opponent they lined up against on the road. The Lions were also dealing with a team that is accustomed to winning the big game at NorCal’s premiere opening showcase. Last season, Bishop O’Dowd downed preseason state No. 1 Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (which went on to capture the CIF Open Division title) at the same event.

Naseem Gaskin is part of a tremendous backcourt at Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland along with teammate Elijah Hardy. Photo: Harold Abend.

O’Dowd was dealing with the unavailability of talented junior forward Raymond Hawkins against a team that had plenty of talent of its own. O’Dowd was also missing two key inside cogs (Miles Owens and Tyler Garay-Harris) because they participated in the Dragons’ football NCS D3 semifinal playoff loss to Marin Catholic earlier in the day.

As the game wore on, all the side angles were thrown out the door and it came down to which players made the big plays in a game that featured two evenly matched clubs. With six seconds remaining in the contest, Utah-bound shooting guard Naseem Gaskin knocked down one of two free throws with his Bishop O’Dowd team holding a one-point lead to account for the final point in the Dragons’ 58-56 victory over Fairfax at Newark Memorial High School.

Fairfax (1-1) had a chance to tie or win the game on its last possession, but senior guard Jamal Hartwell’s last-second, contested 3-pointer was off the mark. With the victory, Bishop O’Dowd (1-0) got its season off on the right foot by winning the marquee game at this event for the fourth time in five seasons. In 2013, the Dragons downed Bullard of Fresno and in 2014, O’Dowd downed a talented Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas team that opened up No. 4 in the preseason FAB 50 National Rankings and counted four McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster. After beating Bishop Gorman, O’Dowd went on to win NorCal’s lone CIF Open Division state title. 

This Fairfax team may not be quite as talented as that Gorman team, but under the circumstances it was a big win nonetheless for a club that edged talented Modesto Christian for the top spot in the preseason state rankings among NorCal clubs. Bishop O’Dowd could potentially meet Fairfax up to three more times this season: at the Iolani Tournament in Hawaii, the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego and perhaps in the CIF Open Division state title game.

With 15.3 seconds remaining in the game, junior Will Chaverin of O’Dowd (nine points, two steals) made one of two free throws to give the Dragons a 57-53 lead. With 7.4 seconds remaining, Hartwell answered with a clutch 3-pointer to set up the dramatic finish.

“We were able to overcome an incredible performance by Hartwell,” said Bishop O’Dowd head coach Lou Richie about the unsigned senior guard who finished with 22 points, including 5-of-9 on 3-pointers. “The main takeaway from this game were how we handled adversity; facing it and then responding.”

Bishop O’Dowd, which had Gaskin jump center and started no one taller than the 6-foot-4 senior D1 bound guard, jumped out to a 19-9 lead, only to see the Lions roar back in the second quarter, out-scoring the Dragons 21-7 to take a 30-26 halftime lead. It was a nip-and-tuck affair after intermission, as Fairfax never led by more than the five points it did late in the second quarter.

Hartwell hit 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters, as Fairfax only trailed by two points (44-42) entering the final period. Ross Williams, O’Dowd’s 5-foot-9 senior spark plug, hit a 3-pointer to begin the final period to offset Hartwell’s bomb. Williams had nine points and made only 3-of-9 shots, but his overall contributions were invaluable. He ball-hawked Fairfax’s quick guards (Hartwell had five turnovers) and made other clutch plays in picking up loose balls and rebounding long misses. Without any true big men on the court, Williams, Gaskin and Washington-bound Elijah Hardy (12 points) combined for 16 rebounds and were comfortable playing an uptempo style of small-ball.

“We have good energy, good attitudes and the guys are trying to buy in,” Richie said of his small lineup.

The other double-digit scorers for Fairfax besides Hartwell were junior wing Robert McRae (11 points) and junior guard Ethan Anderson (10 points). McRae and Anderson combined to shoot 7-for-18 from the field. The main difference in the game (on the court) was O’Dowd converted 16-of-24 free throws, while Fairfax made 9-of-14. Gaskin made 7-of-10 and Hardy 6-of-6 while nobody on Fairfax shot more than five.

“This group has a lot of confidence because we’ve been working out and playing in open runs together since right after last season ended,” said Gaskin, who scored a team-high 20 points and made 6-of-7 field goal attempts. “We like to get up and down and we’re all good defenders.”

Bishop O’Dowd’s next game is Saturday December 2 versus Capital Christian at a showcase event at Modesto Christian, while Fairfax is off until it participates in the Beverly Hills Tournament beginning on December 4.

“In the second half, I thought we didn’t hit our free throws nor get to the 50-50 balls,” said acting Fairfax coach Jamal Hartwell, a longtime assistant and the father of the team’s standout senior guard.

Game 6: No. 12 Rancho Christian (Temecula) 84, No. 40 Capital Christian (Sacramento) 63

The NorCal team in this game had some positive vibes coming in, as the Cougars upset a higher ranked SoCal club at last year’s Tip-Off (Alemany of Mission Hills). In this game, Capital Christian got off to a roaring offensive start as it looked for its second consecutive upset at the event.

Capital Christian led 21-18 after one period of play behind junior guard Trey Jones. He knocked down four 3-pointers and had 14 points at the end of the first quarter. Another good omen was the Cougars had Zach Chappell playing fairly well and he was the player that went off against Alemany (38 points in an OT win).

Things were going well for Capital Christian in the first half, as it led 36-32 at halftime, but it was a classic game of two halves as Rancho Christian (1-0) used its size to wear down the Cougars after intermission.

Isaiah Mobley, a 6-foot-9 junior, and Evan Mobley, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, asserted themselves and eventually took their toll on the smaller Cougars. After leading by as much as eight points in the second quarter, Rancho Christian eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter and made a game that was quite competitive seem lopsided. Coach Ray Barefield’s club outscored Capital Christian (0-1) by 15 points (26-11) in the fourth quarter as Isaiah Mobley dominated on the glass.

Mobley, one of the top juniors in the country, had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the second half and finished with 28 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked shots. His younger brother, who is coming into his own after dealing with injury as a freshman, ended up with 23 points, and nine rebounds. Rancho Christian out-rebounded the smaller Cougars, 20-7, in the second half and 48-33 for the game.

Capital Christian’s lack of size seemed to wear it down in the second half and likely affected its shooting. Jones, for example, finished with 14 points. Chappell scored a team-high 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Capital Christian shot 33.8 percent from the field (22-65) while Rancho Christian made one half of its field goal attempts (29-58), as eight different players scored a basket.

“I was pleased everyone contributed (to the win),” Barefield said. 

It could be a big season for Mason Forbes and teammates at Folsom. Photo: @ncalpremierball/Twitter.com.

Game 5: No. 9 Folsom 75, St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 49

In arguably the most impressive team performance of the event, Folsom served notice that it will be a major NorCal Open Division contender with a wire-to-wire victory over traditional NCS power St. Joseph. The Bulldogs had a couple of early moments where they went through the motions of playing a less-talented team, but their teamwork and defense was in mid-season form.

All five starters netted double figures for Folsom (1-0), as Harvard-bound Mason Forbes was the catalyst on both ends of the floor. He finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and six blocks. The leading scorer for the Bulldogs was 5-foot-7 senior guard Eljay Gallegos with 17 points, including 3-of-4 on 3-point field goals. Also playing a well-rounded game for the Bulldogs was strongman Martis Johnson, as the bullish guard netted 16 points and came up with four steals.

Folsom shot 59.9 percent from the field (29-57) compared to 40.9 percent for St. Joseph (0-1). The Pilots were led by senior guard Cameron Ba with 17 points. Ba had six turnovers, as The Pilots had 21 as a team while Folsom had 10.

Game 4: No. 19 San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 78,  Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 67

The top-ranked team from the CIF Central Section had a strong start and held off a pesky Mariners team that started five underclassmen. Jalen Green, who some experts feel is the nation’s top sophomore prospect, came out strong and got the crowd going with two impressive dunks and a conventional 3-point play. San Joaquin Memorial (1-0) led 18-11 after one quarter.

As the game wore on, the consistent production of Dameane Douglas, a Loyola Marymount recruit, proved to make a huge difference. He scored on a variety of field goals around the basket and had nine offensive rebound putbacks, finishing with game-highs of 36 points and 12 rebounds. Green was the Panthers’ other double-digit scorer with 26 points. He made 9-of-10 free throws and had nine rebounds.

Moreau Catholic (0-1) trailed by as many as 17 points, but battled back with some scrappy defense and some good outside shooing by 6-foot-5 junior Amil Fields. The Mariners got to within 46-45 with approximately one minute left in the third quarter, but could get no closer. Fields, who made 4-of-10 on 3-pointers, finished with 16 points. Junior forward Leonard Turner also netted double figures (14) in a losing effort for coach Frank Knight’s club.

Game 3: Lincoln (Stockton) 77, Newark Memorial (Newark) 57

In a contest that the Trojans led the entire way and the outcome was never in doubt, Cal-bound Andre Kelly made his mark early and often. The 6-foot-7 strongman dominated early and gave his team confidence throughout, finishing with 17 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Lincoln (1-0) had three players in double-figure scoring, including senior Josh Bracher. After nailing a 65-footer at the end of the first quarter to give the Trojans a 24-16 lead, he finished with 12 points. Bracher made four 3-pointers, as Lincoln made 7-of-23 as a team.

Jamal Frenchwood led Newark Memorial (0-1) with 20 points. The Cougars only made 4-of-20 on 3-pointers. 

Game 2: Berkeley 71, Dublin 68 OT

Reserve Jordan Ashworth, a 6-foot-2 junior, calmly made four consecutive free throws in the final 16.5 seconds to help Berkeley (1-0) outlast Dublin (0-1) in a game that neither team led by more than seven points. Ashworth made all five of his free throws attempts and both of his field goal attempts to finish with nine points.

Ben Baker scored a team-high 23 points for the Yellowjackets. Sophomore Robbie Beasley led Dublin with 23 points. He made a living at the free throw line, making 13-of-14. As a team, Dublin made 35-of-39 free throws and held Berkeley to one made 3-pointer, but still couldn’t pull it out.

Game 1: Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 60, No. 25 St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 43

SI came into the game as the WCAL favorites and highest ranked team from the prestigious league, but the Wildcats were not ready for Las Lomas. The Knights exploited SI’s zone defense with timely shooting and it could never recover after a slow start. 

Las Lomas (1-0) got an excellent performance from senior guard Nathan Robinson, a transfer from Sacred Heart Cathedral. He hit four 3-pointers in the first half to put St. Ignatius (0-1) in big hole by halftime (40-21). Las Lomas outscored the Wildcats, 24-7, in the second quarter, as Robinson had 20 points himself. He finished with 23 points, while senior guard Jason Holman was also able to get open outside looks against SI’s zone. Holman made 6-of-16 3-point shots and netted 20 points.

Darrion Trammell led Las Lomas with 17 points.

RELATED: To see 2017-18 preseason state rankings, CLICK HERE  ; To see the list of major tournaments and showcases involving California’s best teams, CLICK HERE  ; To see a list of all-time preseason No. 1 teams in our current state Top 20 format (1988-89), CLICK HERE.  

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores


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