NorCal Tip Off Classic Recap

UCLA signee Jake Kyman shined with 23 points as Santa Margarita defeated Modesto Christian on Saturday in matchup of state-ranked teams. Photo: Ronnie Flores.


Here’s the results and recap from the 12th Annual NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Newark Memorial. State No. 7 Modesto Christian battled one-loss and No. 12 Santa Margarita in the marquee matchup. The SoCal club came away with the victory behind a 23-point, 11-rebound effort from UCLA-bound Jake Kyman. State No. 5 Sheldon of Sacramento and Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland also win key games.

RELATED: To see 2018-19 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 2018-19 season, CLICK HERE

2018 NorCal Tip-Off Classic Results
(Teams listed by CalHiSports.com preseason state ranking)

Game 8: No. 12 Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 72, No. 7 Modesto Christian 66 

In past seasons, this event was the tip-off game for both clubs in the marquee game and with event director Gerry Freitas usually brining in a high-powered SoCal team, it has been traditionally a tough atmosphere for the traveling club. But with this season starting as early as Nov. 12 around the state, many SoCal clubs have already played in a big tournament or in some non-league games.

That was the case for the Eagles of Santa Margarita, which came into the contest having lost to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, which started out No. 25 in the preseason state rankings, at the Ryse Williams Pac Shores Tournament to open the season. Instead of seeing where its team stood to open the season, Santa Margarita used the game to get back on the winning track against a quality and higher ranked foe in the final game of an eight-game slate at Newark Memorial High School.

Santa Margarita was in control, leading 51-41 in the third quarter. That’s when Modesto Christian came roaring back, taking a 53-51 lead heading into the fourth period on a lay-up by Earv Knox. Modesto Christian eventually extended the run to 16-0 and a 56-51 lead, before Santa Margarita adjusted and closed the game strong to up its record to 5-1 on the season, while the Crusaders fell to 0-1.

Shengzhe Li & Max Agbonkpolo are quite an inside duo for Santa Margarita. Photo: Ronnie Flores.


Modesto Christian was forcing turnovers and hit its outside shots to get back in the game, but Santa Margarita got more disciplined down the stretch and got some terrific play from UCLA-bound wing Jake Kyman that sparked a 11-0 run in the final minutes. With 1:23 remaining, the Crusaders made a final push, cutting their deficit to 68-66 on a 3-pointer by Baljot Sahi, but USC-bound Max Agbonkpolo converted a running lay-up with 58 seconds remaining to give the Eagles the cushion it needed to close out the “road” win.

“We started spreading the floor a bit because they were aggressive and playing our passing lanes,” said Santa Margarita head coach Jeff Reinert. “They got behind early because they were missing shots, but they played better in the second half.”

So how much of an advantage did Santa Margarita have going into this matchup having already played high-level games?

“The advantage was having Jake Kyman and Max Agbonkpolo more than whether or not it was our first game,” Reinert said. “Those guys have played in many big games and whether it’s our first or eleventh, they have a lot of experience.”

Kyman scored on a variety of jumpers and put backs, including a big one to give Santa Margarita a 66-60 lead with just under two minutes remaining, and came up with a key defensive deflection in the paint when the Crusaders were threatening. The UCLA signee finished with game-highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Agbonkpolo had 21 points, six assists and four steals. Shengzhe Li, the Eagles’ big man bound for BYU, added 13 points and seven rebounds while doing a solid job on Modesto Christian’s Tsotne Tsartsidze (nine points, seven rebounds) around the basket.

Without the outside shooting of Sahi, a six-foot junior, and Devin Day, a 6-foot-2 freshman, Santa Margarita might have run away with victory. Sahi made all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 14 points. Day, one of the better freshman in NorCal, also made four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Knox added 11 for Modesto Christian, which will look to bounce back against James Logan of Union City at its Gary Porter Showcase December 1 before heading to Hoophall West in Arizona against two quality out-of-state opponents.

Santa Margarita next heads to Las Vegas next weekend to take on quality foes Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) and Clark High School.

Game 7: No. 5 Sheldon (Sacramento) 89, No. 37 St. Bernard (Playa Del Rey) 66

The Huskies looked like a nationally-ranked unit and had no trouble with the Vikings, who had come into this game with three victories under their belts. The defending CIF NorCal Open Champs have a bigger and deeper team that last season, but are still working on establishing a rotation and fitting in new talented pieces. It showed at times, as Sheldon had small lapses, but the game was never in doubt as the Huskies won going away.

“It’s just going to take time to find the right combinations and who pays well together,” said head coach Joey Rollings. “We actually play well together, but I thought we just took some bad shots and rushed some others.”

Sheldon (1-0) led 21-13 at the end of the first period and St. Bernard (3-1) went into a mini-drought to begin the second period. The Vikings scored nine points in the quarter and trailed 34-22 at halftime. The Vikings got as close as nine points (45-36) in the second half, but Sheldon used its interchangeable parts and stable of athletes to pull away down the stretch. The Huskies showed it will take a huge effort to keep them from repeating as regional open champions.

Sheldon is not worried about a potential monster showdown with state No. 7 Modesto Christian or any rankings.

“We’re just trying to get better every day and peak when the playoffs come,” Rollings said.

Newcomer Marcus Bagley, a 6-foot-7 wing forward and the younger brother of the Sacramento Kings’ Marvin Bagley (who played one season at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth), led five Sheldon players in double-digit scoring with 19 points while adding seven rebounds. Another newcomer, Long Beach State-bound Josh Morgan (a transfer from Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove), had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Veterans Justin Nguyen (15 points) and Marquis Hargrove (14 points) did their jobs and the Huskies also got a big-time performance off the bench from 6-foot-3 junior Josh Williams, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three steals.

Nick Bowden, a 5-foot-11 junior, and Mook Harris, a 6-foot-1 senior, each netted 23 points for St. Bernard.

Sheldon got tons of easy finishes at the rim and was credited with making 17-of-19 free throws. According to the provided box score, St. Bernard made 4-of-14 free throws.

Game 6: Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 60, No. 35 Grant (Sacramento) 58

In a classic game of runs, there were two big ones to close the game and the Dragons pulled it out with a 14-2 run. The spurt was capped when 6-foot-1 sophomore Jarin Edwards put back an errant shot in front of the rim by O’Dowd’s Will Chaverin with 2 seconds remaining to give the Dragons their third consecutive win at this event.

The game-winning basket basket was the only field goal of the game for Edwards. Last season, O’Dowd defeated L.A. Fairfax in the event’s marquee game. Two years ago, it was a big win for coach Lou Richie’s program over a Bishop Montgomery of Torrance team that went on to capture the 2017 CIF Open Division state crown.

Grant (0-1) had taken a 56-46 lead on a 14-0 run of its own earlier in the fourth quarter. O’Dowd (1-0) began to make its move with just over three minutes remaining and was aided by some costly Grant turnovers off passes against pressure defense. The biggest difference in the game, however, was the game’s 3-point shooting, particularly by one O’Dowd player. The Pacers made 1-of-9 shots from behind the arc, while Bishop O’Dowd made 6-of-17.

Doing a majority of the damage was 6-foot-5 junior Monty Bowser, who hit 4-of-5 3-pointers and finished with game-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds. Chaverin had 11 points and also giving the Dragons a big lift was 6-foot-1 senior Brenden Patrick, who finished with 17 points.

David Jones, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, led the Pacers with 14 points. Despite major foul trouble, fellow 6-foot-7 senior Deejuan Pruitt contributed 11 points for Grant.

Game 5: No. 28 Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 60, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 46

The Mariners jumped all over the depleted Cougars and rolled to their first victory of the season. Moreau Catholic (1-0) led 16-8 after one period and held Capital Christian (0-1) to five points in the second quarter to take a 34-13 halftime lead. Moreau Catholic, which is still missing a few football players and sophomore transfer D.J. Johnson, had three players score in double figures and substituted liberally.

Muscular senior guard Glen Byrd and returning Mission Valley League MVP Leonard Turner (9 steals) led the way for Moreau Catholic with 15 points apiece. Capital Christian was led by senior guard Preston Hall with 13 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

Game 4: Newark Memorial 77, St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) 64

The Bruins built a 35-29 halftime lead on the host club at Newark Memorial High School, but the Cougars used a big third quarter and strong defense down the stretch to blow the game wide open. Newark Memorial (1-0) outscored the Bruins, 23-9, in the third period and forced some turnovers down the stretch when St. Patrick-St. Vincent (0-1) threatened and got within six points. Newark Memorial’s lead was only six halfway through the fourth period and the final score is not quite indicative of how competitive this game was.

Five-foot-11 senior Isaiah Cabrera led Newark Memorial with 29 points. He made three 3-pointers, 10-of-11 free throws, grabbed seven rebounds, had five assists and three steals. Jalen Scott, a 6-foot-1 junior, had 30 points for the Bruins while highly-regarded big man D.J. Jackson had a monster stat line in a losing effort. The 6-foot-10 junior finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocks.

Game 3: No. 23 Dublin 73, No. 36 Riordan (San Francisco) 69

In a matchup of state-ranked teams that were both missing key players, it was Dublin who got off to a roaring start, took a lead as big as 15 points, and then held on to win at the end. Dublin (1-0) was without standout junior guard Robby Beasley (ankle) and did not start two other regulars. Riordan was without Sacred Heart Cathedral 30-day sit-out transfer Bryce Monroe, but it might not have mattered the way 6-foot-2 junior Elijah Alonso was shooting the ball.

The Dublin junior guard (one of seven 2020 players who contribute for the Gaels), scored 19 points in the first half and didn’t miss a field goal (7-7) or free throw (5-5) in the process, as Dublin led 42-30 at intermission. Riordan (0-1) trailed 58-45 entering the final period, but made a frantic comeback in the game’s closing minutes. Riordan trailed 70-65 after Je’Lani Clark, a muscular 6-foot-3 junior guard, scored on one of many repeated drives in the fourth period. After forcing a Dublin turnover in the backcourt, Clark scored on an offensive rebound put back of his own miss and teammate De’Sean Johnson, a 6-foot-5 senior, blocked a shot on the other end that went out of bounds on the shooter.

With 28.4 seconds remaining, Riordan’s Dominic Wilson was fouled and made both free throws to get the Crusaders within a point (70-69), but they couldn’t get any closer as the Gaels’ Jaden Saunders and Alonso made a pair of free throws to seal the victory. Alonso also made a free throw with 10.8 seconds remaining to give his team a two-possession cushion. He finished the game with 24 points on 8-of-10 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws. Sanders had 15 points, but also had 10 turnovers.

For Riordan, Clark scored a game-high 31 points. He made 11-of-13 free throws, but missed 15 of his 25 field goal attempts, including all six from 3-point range. The only other player in double figures for the Crusaders was talented 6-foot-9 junior Riiny Riiny.

Game 2: James Logan (Union City) 69, Campolindo (Moraga) 64

James Logan (1-0) executed better in the final minute to pull out close victory over Cougars, who started two freshmen in the season opener for both clubs. Campolindo (0-1) was leading 64-63, when Logan’s Brett Thompson hit a jumper in the key. A turnover by James Logan on the next possession led to a break away lay-up by Logan’s Brah’jon Thompson and the Cougars last quality chance to tie the game on a 3-pointer by freshman guard Aidan Mahaney was short of the mark.

Gabriel Hawkins, who hit a 3-pointer to give James Logan a 63-62 lead, finished with 20 points as did the Colts’ Thompson. Carter Mahaney, a junior and the older brother of Aidan, gave Campolindo its final lead on a field goal after Thompson’s big 3-pointer. Carter Mahaney made 7-of-15 field goals and finished with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds. Aidan Mahaney scored 16 points in his varsity debut, including a 55-foot heave from behind the half court line to tie the score at 51-51 at the end of the third period.

Game 1: Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 57, Stuart Hall (San Francisco) 48

The Fightin’ Irish used a big second half to record a season opening victory over Stuart Hall (1-1). The Knights led 23-21 at halftime, but 6-foot-8 junior Oscar Cheng and 6-foot-1 senior Elijah Flowers both had a big second half to lead Sacred Heart Cathedral (1-0).

Cheng finished with 19 points and eight rebounds while Flowers had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Miles Amos, a 6-foot-1 senior, led Stuart Hall with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

RELATED: To see 2018-19 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 2018-19 season, 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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