Saturday’s CIF state girls basketball finals at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento wraps up with Windward of Los Angeles completing an impressive postseason by winning Open Division title over Pinewood of Los Altos Hills. We also have writeups and photos of the two other CIF state girls finals played on Saturday won by Redondo of Redondo Beach (D2) and Sierra Pacific of Hanford (D5).
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(Note: D2 girls writeup by editor Mark Tennis)
In a nutshell, the story of the 2018 CIF Open Division title game was that there was just way too much of Charisma Osborne on the court to handle on Saturday night in the state’s capitol.
The game was being held in an NBA arena so why not shoot some NBA 3-pointers? Guess what, that’s exactly what the Windward (Los Angeles) junior sensation did and then some in leading the Wildcats to a 58-47 championship game victory over Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Along the way, the 5-foot-9 Osborne finished with 26 points (six rebounds, three assists) on 9-of-15 from the field and 6-of-8 on 3-pointers. The six 3-point shots set a new CIF Open Division title game record by two treys and tied for the second-most all time in any division.
“Charisma is an example of a pyramid of competitive greatness,” said Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “Being at your best when your best is needed. She’s done that repeatedly.”
Pinewood had control early but it didn’t last long. With Windward trailing 12-7 Osborne took over and the worm turned so fast it was almost like the blink of an eye. She made her first 3-pointer and then scored again to tie it at 12-12 before she got some help from teammates to complete an 8-2 spurt that gave Windward a 15-14 lead after one quarter.
Windward fell behind one more time at 16-15 but India Otto hit a 3-pointer and Osborne drained her second trey to make it 21-16 to put Windward in control. When Osborne hit her third long bomb to end the half Windward had a 32-21 lead and all the momentum.
Osborne came out even hotter in the second half than she was in the first. Her fourth 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 40-27 lead but when she followed it up on the next possession with a what looked like a heat-seeking missile from almost two feet beyond the NBA 22-foot line to make it 43-27, it was almost like what next?
Pinewood made a run but Osborne hit another long three-pointer from midway between the high school and NBA arcs, and after the Windward lead got cut to 50-44, Kamil English (14 points) hit her second 3-pointer and Osborne hit a pair of free throws to seal the deal.
As a team, Windward (27-3) was 10-of-24 (41.7-percent) on three-pointers after outshooting a Pinewood team known to rely on long range shooting that was 6-of-17 (35.3-percent) from outside the arc.
“It feels really nice to be able to make threes and I wanted to show I can make some threes, but on the real long one I actually really didn’t realize where I took it from,” said Osborne with a giggle.
“As long as they’re going in okay, bombs away, but if she misses one then attack the rim,” Nygaard said with a bit of humor.
Pinewood didn’t exactly play poorly. The Panthers’ 3-point percentage was above average and their overall shooting percentage of 38.8 percent in a state championship game is usually enough to get the job done.
Junior Klara Astrom led Pinewood (27-3) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Courtni Thompson added 14 points and five rebounds, but Stanford-bound Hannah Jump could not escape the doubling and switching defense of Windward. After shooting the lights out in the NorCal semis against Stockton St. Mary’s and in the NorCal title game win over Archbishop Mitty, Jump didn’t shoot poorly, but couldn’t get open often enough and finished with nine points on 4-of-9 from the field overall and 1-of-3 on 3-pointers.
“I didn’t play my best game today,” said Jump as she fought back tears.” I feel I could have done more but it just didn’t happen.”
“They shot better than us, plain and simple,” said Pinewood head coach Doc Scheppler. “I don’t think we played bad, they just played better. I was very impressed with their team. They were the better team today.”
The Wildcats may have been the better team, and some players other than Osborne and English made solid contributions, like the eight points and eight rebounds by McKayla Williams off the bench, or the four points, nine rebounds and five assists by Kaiyah Corona, but in this game it boiled down to Osborne.
“Yes, definitely,” was Osborne’s answer when asked if she felt she had something to prove after Windward won the CIF Division I title but didn’t make the Open Division last season and she fell short on some personal honors last season. “A lot of people have doubted us so we wanted to come out and show who was number one in California.”
Pinewood was looking for its first state title in the new Open Division and competitive equity era after winning six CIF Division V titles in eight appearances.
With a win over national top 10 St. Mary’s in the NorCal Open semis, and then after beating previous national No. I Archbishop Mitty in the NorCal title game, Pinewood had to go to the top of the state rankings, but the stay will be short.
Windward now improves to 3-2 in state title games and adds a CIF Open title to the D1 title the Wildcats won last year and the 2011 D4 championship.
When the final rankings come out Nygaard and her girls will be number one and the State Team of the Year when that is announced and the updated all-time list of State Teams of the Year is updated.
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 57, Pleasant Valley (Chico) 42
In a matchup of teams that were both seeded No. 1 in their respective SoCal and NorCal regional brackets, it was the Sea Hawks who had all of the answers. Every time the Vikings seemed to be making a run it was answered.
“It’s been a sacrifice and it’s taken a commitment from everyone,” said Redondo head coach Marcelo Enriquez, who has been at the school since 1995 and was back in a state final for the first time since losing in the D2 state final to St. Mary’s of Stockton. “The players understand what we had to do. This is for every kid who has ever played for me.”
Pleasant Valley (25-5) mounted its best challenge in the third quarter with a 6-0 run that trimmed Redondo’s 24-15 halftime lead to 30-25. The Sea Hawks didn’t flinch. They came right back on a 6-0 run and were never seriously threatened again.
Redondo wrapped up a 31-5 season and made a case to be in the higher echelon of the final, expanded State Top 40 rankings. The team will have to be behind South Bay rivals Serra of Gardena (D1 state champ) and West of Torrance (which beat the Sea Hawks twice, won the CIF Southern Section D1 title but then got upset by Alemany of Mission Hills in the SoCal D1 playoffs).
Enriquez said the girls were motivated all season in trying to play in the memory of former Redondo boys player Rhyse Williams. He was a 2017 graduate of the school, earned D1 all-state honors, had a scholarship to Loyola, but died last summer from a rare form of cancer that took his live in just a few weeks.
“We wanted to just keep his spirit alive,” Enriquez said. “We made these shirts to honor him and we broke every huddle all season saying, ‘Rhyse Up.’ His blueprints were all over this.”
Pleasant Valley was playing its final game with four-year starter Serena “Peanut” Tuitele. She had 21 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two assists.
“It’s been a ride,” said Tuitele, who will play next at the University of Colorado. “Since my freshman year I’ve been talking about playing at Golden 1 Center. It’s sad to go out like this in my last game, but I hope I’ve left a tradition that can be carried on.”
Redondo point guard Alyssa Munn was a primary reason for Tuitele’s sadness. She sliced and diced the defense with an impressive dribble and ended with 17 points and four assists. Dylan Horton and Jasmine Davis both shined as well with 11 points.
Sierra Pacific (Hanford) 52, Lowell (San Francisco) 26
For the girls and frenzied fans and media that made the trek from The Valley north to the state’s capitol, it was as if they had won the Open Division title and not the CIF Division V crown.
The bottom line is to them it doesn’t matter because Hanford is back on the girls high school basketball radar screen for the first time in 17 years after Sierra Pacific was a convincing winner over Lowell to secure the first girls state championship for the town since Hanford High won the 2001 Division II state title.
Alana Roberts, a 5-foot-9 sophomore post, led Sierra Pacific with a game-high and double-double 20 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Celeste Roberts added a solid 12 points, eight rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“I’ve known some of these girls for over 10 years and we’re like a family,” said Sierra Pacific head coach Amy Bush, who recorded career coaching win No. 100 and whose daughter and senior Kalea Bush (seven points, eight rebounds) is a member of the Golden Bears.
“We talk about hard work and how hard work pays off,” continued Bush. “That, plus the community support in Hanford and the surrounding communities is what got us here.”
SoCal D5 champion Sierra Pacific (32-5) led 12-5 after one quarter and 22-12 at the half. The Golden Bears extended the lead to 16 points before Lowell closed to 32-23 to start the fourth quarter, however after the run by the Cardinals the tank was empty and the San Francisco girls faded in the final period.
Junior Sammy Quach came off the bench to lead Lowell (20-12) with eight points.
Lowell never was able to find its shooting touch in the cavernous Golden 1 Center and finished shooting 8-of-46 from the field. Even so the experience was worth it.
“I think our nerves got to us,” said Lowell junior Lauren Chan. “But it was a once in a lifetime experience. How many people can say they played in an NBA arena?”
Long after the press conference concluded, the girls and coaches were still hamming it up in the media room for the throng of Fresno area media that came up from The Valley.
“It’s amazing to have the community behind us and not just Hanford, but the entire Central Valley. Even Clovis West (last year’s Open Division state champion) gave us a shout-out,” said senior Haley Bettencourt. “People have been so supportive of us and we just fed off it.”
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: @HaroldAbend