CIF Basketball Picks & Previews

Two leading players in the state returning to the CIF state championships this weekend in Sacramento are Hannah Jump of Los Altos Hills Pinewood and Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills. Photos: HawaiiPrepWorld.com & Willie Eashman.

Here are the predicted scores, what to watch for and more for each of the 12 CIF boys and girls basketball state championship games coming up this weekend in Sacramento. We will focus most on the Open Division and Division I, but also have the picks for each of the other divisions too. Last year, we went 9-3 with these predictions, which also was close to the 10-2 record of SoCal teams against their NorCal counterparts. Biggest favorites? Perhaps Foothill of Bakersfield on the boys side and Oakland for girls. Good luck to all teams participating.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. Next week’s final state rankings in all divisions and some of our exclusive all-state teams (including juniors, sophomores and frosh) will be for Gold Club members only. Sign up today for our Gold Club for $3.99 per month or as low as $2.08 per month for a yearly subscription. For details, CLICK HERE.

Note: Our lead boys basketball analyst, Ronnie Flores, did the breakdowns for Open Division boys, and Division I boys. Our lead girls basketball analyst, Harold Abend, did the breakdowns for Open Division girls, Division I girls. Editor and publisher Mark Tennis did the rest. Editor Mark Tennis recently was a guest on Ballislife’s “In The Paint” Podcast talking CIF state basketball championships. CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast.

(All games played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento)
(All state rankings references to State Top 20s, which were done before any of this week’s games)

Open Division (Boys)
State No. 4 Sheldon (Sacramento) 28-6* vs. State No. 1 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 31-3, Saturday 8 p.m
.

This marquee boys game is actually a rematch of last year’s CIF open final, which Sierra Canyon won 75-62 to capture its second overall state title and first in the open division. While Sierra Canyon has lived up to expectations this season (losing only one game in-state in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to Rancho Christian of Temecula at the end of the regular season), Sheldon has been up and down because of untimely injuries and suspensions, but is playing well going into Saturday’s showdown. Sheldon actually had a six-point lead with 3:45 to play in last year’s game, but Sierra Canyon closed on a 28-10 run to win going away. Sheldon wants to keep Sierra Canyon from getting early momentum from highlight plays and dunks. If it’s close in the fourth quarter, then the Huskies will have to execute well and keep Sierra Canyon off the offensive boards. Accomplishing both will be a difficult task.

Former NBA star Kenyon Martin hugs his son, K.J., shortly after Sierra Canyon won last year’s CIF Open Division state title. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Sheldon coach Joey Rollings has had to tinker with his lineup all season long and that could help Sheldon make any mid-game adjustments or try different things in order to maintain an advantage and be fresher than it was down the stretch in last year’s game. Top seeded Sierra Canyon is a year more experienced and stronger and could win this game making more mistakes than Sheldon can afford to. Senior forward K.J. Martin went off inside in the 83-73 regional final win over state No. 2 Mater Dei of Santa Ana, making 14-of-15 field goal attempts and finishing with 30 points. Sheldon simply can’t let Martin get off like that or it could be a long night. The Huskies have to make Sierra Canyon work for good shots in order to increase their chances of winning the program’s first CIF Open crown.

Sheldon was also out-rebounded by Sierra Canyon in last year’s game, 44-24, and this year coach Andre Chevalier has 7-footer Christian Koloko around to take pressure off of Martin. That wouldn’t seem to bode well for the Huskies since they’ve been playing without 6-foot-10 Josh Morgan (Long Beach St. commit) since January because of a knee injury, but to its credit the team has adjusted well without him. Last year. sophomore Xavion Brown sparked Sheldon and this year collectively the backcourt is even deeper and better. Brown, a junior, and Cal-St. East Bay-bound Kaito Williams will work to slow down Sierra Canyon’s Cassius Stanley, a Mr. Basketball candidate who is playing his best ball in the post-season. Stanley has turned into a consistent shooter and hit some big shots in the regional final win over Mater Dei and in the CIF Southern Section open title game win vs. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (29 points). Sheldon will probably allow someone like freshman Amari Bailey to beat them before Stanley, but on the other end Stanley and Scotty Pippen Jr. will have their hands full, too. Williams (who scored 10 points in last year’s state final and had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the 58-48 regional final win over state No. 12 Modesto Christian) is a strong slasher and good defender who can turn a game around with a flurry of good plays. Point guard Justin Nguyen has been a spark plug for Sheldon the past two years and is really no longer a secret to Sheldon’s success. If Williams and Brown are playing well, he’ll get some open looks. Nguyen made 4-of-6 on 3-pointers in the Modesto Christian win and if he produces similarly in this game and matches Pippen’s production, No. 2 seeded Sheldon will be in business.

The key to the game may be the play of Marcus Bagley and fellow junior forward Terren Frank. Both players have missed time (Bagley the section playoffs and Frank a majority of the regular season), so whoever wins the forward matchup will put his team in good position to win the game. Bagley, the younger brother of Sacramento Kings big man and former Sierra Canyon player Marvin Bagley, has loads of ability and if he plays well Sheldon will be in good position to pull off the mild upset. Frank can match his physicality and if he is productive, it’s hard to see Sierra Canyon losing this game.

Sheldon’s experience in last year’s game versus much of the same players bodes well for its chances to win. Sierra Canyon, however, is just a bit better and more consistent. Sierra Canyon won’t go on a big run to close the game, but it will make enough plays to put the South at six wins versus one loss to the North in open competition.

Predicted Score: Sierra Canyon 77, Sheldon 69.

Open Division (Girls)
State No. 4 Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 27-3 vs. State No. 1 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 32-1, Saturday 6 p.m.

For the most part, the Trailblazers have been a three-headed monster this season but they are deeper than the top three players. Even so, it’s been juniors Vanessa De Jesus (15.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.8 assists), Ashley Chevalier (12.8 ppg, 3.8 assists) and 6-foot wing Alexis Mark (12.9 ppg, team-high 8.0 rpg) that have carried the heaviest load. In the SoCal title game 74-70 road victory over Clovis West of Fresno, Mark had 19 points and six rebounds, Chevalier came up huge with 18 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

The Panthers are back for another crack at a CIF Open Division state championship and their cast of characters isn’t much different than last year when they faltered in a 58-47 title-game loss to Windward of Los Angeles. Stanford-bound 5-foot-11 Hannah Jump gets most of the ink and she is the leading scorer (17.1 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (5.9 rpg) but in the last two games against Carondelet and then Salesian in the NorCal title game 64-59 victory, one of the nation’s top shooting prospects, who still has 90 treys on the season, only made 3 in 12 attempts. However, in those two games it’s been Yale-bound Klara Astrom plus others that have picked it up big time. The 5-foot-9 Astrom (16.2 ppg, team-high 7.0 rpg), who sometimes plays like a 6-footer that can shoot the 3-ball, had a team-high 17 points against Carondelet and duplicated the honor with 27 points against Salesian. In the two games combined, she was 9 of 20 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Kaitlyn Leung (9.5 ppg) also had 23 points in a quarterfinal rout of St. Mary’s of Stockton.

For the second straight year, this matchup is a perfect example of a competitive equity. Pinewood is up against the top team from what has been the toughest league in the state the last two years, only their Gold Coast League opponent will be Sierra Canyon instead of Windward. Another example of competitive equity working by putting teams in the Open Division based on players and performance is once again, and in each of the previous six years the CIF has had an Open Division, there will be no previous winner so another new school will join the ranks of Open champions.

Six-time CIF Division V state champion Pinewood head coach Doc Scheppler, who has been to the D5 state championship game eight times, last year’s Open title game, and was the 2010 Division V Coach of the Year and 2014 State Coach of the Year when his Panthers last won a state championship, has what looks like his best team ever, even better than last year. However, although they looked good in beating a Salesian team on Tuesday that upset Mitty on a horrid night in the NorCal semifinals, they are playing a Sierra Canyon team that is as good or better then the Mitty team that beat Pinewood 72-51 in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship. While this is familiar territory for Pinewood, the terrain is not strange for Trailblazers head coach Komaki. Her 2014 and 2015 teams won back-to-back CIF Division IV state titles and her 2013 team was a 47-33 winner over Pinewood in the Division V state championship. We’re going to make our prediction based on the rankings, and that means Sierra Canyon in what could be a close game that would not be surprising if it went to overtime, but a factor could be that Scheppler and girls played at the Golden 1 Center last year and this is the first year for Komaki’s girls and they will have a second long road trip in a week after already trekking to Fresno and back.

Predicted Score: Sierra Canyon 59, Pinewood 57.

Division I Boys
State No. 18 James Logan (Union City) 27-6 vs. State No. 11 Chino Hills 24-10, Friday 8 p.m.

This game has an eerie resemblance to last year’s game, and not just because Chino Hills is making a return trip against a North Coast Section team. It has the same look and feel because No. 6 seed Chino Hills wasn’t overly dominant during the regular season, but has rode its best player to the D1 state final for the second consecutive season against a team that was a NCS runner-up in its respective division. Last year, Las Lomas of Walnut Creek came into the game ranked No. 17 in the state, but it was shell-shocked to start the game, as Chino Hills jumped out to a 22-point lead in the first half before the NorCal boys settled in. Two things have to happen for top seeded James Logan to have a chance in this game. One, it cannot get off to a real slow start and two, it has to find a way to somehow slow down the player who has gotten the Huskies back to Sacramento, Onyeka Okongwu.

Last year’s Mr. Basketball, Okongwu had 27 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks in the 73-68 win over Las Lomas and The Big O had been even more dominant this post-season, if that’s possible. In the four regional playoff games, Okongwu is averaging 30.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, and 6.5 bpg, which includes highs of 34 points (versus CIFSS open division entrants St. John Bosco and Rancho Verde), 11 rebounds (three times), seven assists (twice) and eight blocks (versus section champion Mayfair of Lakewood). He was at his best at the end of the Etiwanda game in the SoCal regional final, when he led the Huskies back from a 12-point deficit to win, 49-47, versus a team it lost to on the same floor by 11 points during the regular season. Six-foot-6 Malcolm Steadman, who led the Colts with 17 points in the 54-49 NorCal regional final win over Branson of Ross, and 6-4 Gabriel Hawkins are Logan’s biggest regulars, so they’ll have to stay on the floor, put a body on Okongwu at all times, get some positive plays on offense to make him work harder on defense and hope a couple of bang-bang calls go NorCal’s way. That’s asking a lot, but that what needs to be done in order for the Colts to win this game.

The silver lining for Logan, the NCS D1 runner-ups to open entrant De La Salle, is it has more big-game experience than Las Lomas did last year, has battled some talented big men, and could have the advantage in the backcourt. Logan played all of NorCal’s top teams this season and could have easily been pulled up for the NorCal Open Division if the top two seeds hadn’t received byes. Cousins Brah’jon Thompson (5-10) and Brett Thompson (5-10), the floor leader, both played well in the regional semifinal win over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and Brah’jon Thompson is fearless in the clutch, scoring five points in the closing 90 seconds versus Branson. The cousins are capable of scoring 15-22 points apiece and if they score a combined 40 points, Logan will be in good shape in the second half.

Chino Hills guards Anthony Bell and Will Pluma have been making the correct reads and big plays down the stretch in games and have cut down on the perimeter attempts in the playoffs, with obvious results. Coach Dennis Latimore’s game plan is to pound the ball inside to the Big O, who is an excellent passer and usually patient in his moves. Once in a while he might force it, but not too often. Nick Manor Hall, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, is the one athlete on Chino Hills that Logan may not have an answer for. He’s made plenty of big steals and offensive plays during the course of the playoffs, and coach Melvin Easley can’t let him go off or else it could spell a long night for the NorCal champions.

Since the key to this game is the play of the Big O, how the game is reffed will be a major key. Most CIF state title games are called fairly tight in a big arena setting with teams that typically haven’t played each other. In contrast, the Etiwanda-Chino Hills game was extremely physical and plenty of contact was let go. If Friday’s game is called like that, it puts Logan at a tremendous disadvantage. It likely won’t be, but the Big O likely won’t foul out this time around, either. Last year, Okongwu fouled out and Chino Hills still found a way to hold on for the win. The Huskies’ size and a couple of key plays from Manor Hall will be the difference.

Prediction: Chino Hills 61, James Logan 56

Asia Avinger & Katie Goostrey both were all-tourney at SoCal Holiday Classic in NCAA Silver Division. Photo: Erik Boal.

Division I Girls
State No. 14 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 24-9 vs. State No. 15 Rosary (Fullerton) 26-8, Friday at 6 p.m.

The Dragons are not the same team right now as they were earlier in the season when the team was beset by a ton of injuries. Grand Canyon-bound Jada Holland (11.2 ppg, 5.4 assists) was out 11 games and missed all the big tournaments prior to league. Sophomore Kennedy Johnson (14.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg, four blacks) played the first 12 games before straining her Achilles and missed nine games, but even after she returned head coach Malik McCord had to bring the 6-foot wing along very slowly so as not to re-aggravate the Achilles. Recently, Johnson has been on fire, almost single-handedly taking out state-ranked Miramonte with 32 points and 10 rebounds in the CIF North Coast Section Division II championship 64-59 victory, and then following that up with double-doubles in the first three games of the D1 NorCals and then topped it off with 19 points and 14 rebounds in the Dragons’ NorCal Division I 68-59 title game victory over Bear Creek.

As for Rosary, the buzz around Southern California at the beginning of the season was with the additions of a couple of transfers and some talented incoming freshmen to go with returning junior star Katherine “Kate” Goostrey (16.0 ppg). One of those freshmen, guard Kaylee Byon (10.0 ppg, 5.0 assists), has been a huge contributor. The other freshman, 5-foot-11 wing Soleil Montrose (8.0 ppg) has also been solid and Yoon calls both “very special.” Senior 6-foot center Savannah Felix also came up huge in the Royals 62-53 Southern Regional Division I title game victory over La Jolla Country Day with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

As previously mentioned, O’Dowd is hot but Rosary has seen teams as good or better than O’Dowd having lost three times to Mater Dei, Sierra Canyon, Windward, Etiwanda, and a loss to a Long Beach Poly team they then went on to beat twice. McCord has taken O’Dowd to four state championship games with a loss in 2011 in Division III but wins in three appearances since then. The Dragons won the D3 title in 2012, got placed in the first Open Division game and trounced Windward in 2013 when McCord was named State Coach of the Year, and then back to D3 in 2015 to beat Brea-Olinda in the one year the state championships were held at Cal’s Haas Pavilion. Rosary will be making another journey to Sacramento with Yoon not only bringing his Royals but his wife and five kids aged 5-months to 9-years old. One advantage could be Goostrey. In 2017, when she was named the All State Division III and First Team All State for freshmen, Yoon and the Royals made their one and only appearance in a state championship game and they were a 62-45 winner over Campolindo in the first year of the state championships being held at the Golden 1 Center. She knows and like the home of the Sacramento Kings. Once again, we will go with the state rankings coming into the week which had O’Dowd at No. 14 and Rosary at No. 15 but this could come right down to the wire and like our Open Division prediction could even go to overtime.

Prediction: Bishop O’Dowd 55, Rosary 53

Division II Boys
Campolindo (Moraga) 26-7 vs. Colony (Ontario) 31-5, Saturday 4 p.m.
The SoCal teams on the boys side in all of the state finals this week could all be viewed as favorites, some more than others, so it was a task to try to look for one NorCal team that has the best chance. In our view, that team is Campolindo in this game. Yes, Colony is ranked higher and has one of the hottest scorers in the state for the postseason in Sedrick Altman, a Pepperdine-bound guard who rained down 41 points in the SoCal D2 semifinals and then hit for 34 more in Tuesday’s win against top seed Rancho Cucamonga. The Titans, who are making their first trip to the CIF state finals under longtime head coach Jerry De Fablis (he also won his 400th game on Tuesday), also have been getting big outings from other players. Sophomore guard Brenton Knapper wasn’t far behind Altman with 24 points. Neither team has had an easy path to get this far, including Campo needing overtime to get past Sacramento in its second regional contest. But the Cougars do have a win over a team that it could easily be argued is stronger than any team that Colony has faced. That would be their 63-60 win over Modesto Christian in the semifinals of the Modesto Christian tourney. The Crusaders just knocked off previously unbeaten Salesian of Richmond (the team the Cougars lost to by 11 points in their section final) in the NorCal Open Division before losing to Sheldon of Sacramento in the regional final. Campo’s easy win over Serra of San Mateo on Tuesday also was impressive. Guards also are a strength for the Cougars. Aidan Mahaney, one of the top freshmen in the state, has been averaging 15.7 ppg. His older brother, Carter, is right behind at 13.3. Another versatile backcourt player has been senior David Ahazie, who is the leading scorer at 16.8 ppg.
Predicted Score: Campolindo 64, Colony 63.

Clarice Akunwafo, a freshman at Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro), looks to score during CIF Division 4 state final. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Division II Girls
Menlo School (Atherton) 25-5 vs. Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 27-7, Saturday at 2 p.m.
For the third straight year Rolling Hills Prep is in a state final playing a team from the same CIF Central Coast Section private school league. Two years ago, the Huskies were out-classed 63-40 by Eastside College Prep in D5 (with no competitive equity). Then last year when they were moved up to D4 (with competitive equity) they won the D4 state title with a 57-53 victory over Woodside Priory. This time, they’re in D2 and they’re playing Menlo School. That experience of playing already at the Golden 1 Center could be a difference, especially since Menlo’s roster is on the young side with a lot of sophomores and freshmen. Rolling Hills Prep bounced back from a 51-50 upset loss to Orange Lutheran in the CIFSS D2AA final to win the SoCal D2 crown. The girls needed overtime to get past Mark Keppel of Alhambra and had what we thought was an impressive 59-46 win vs. Bishop’s of La Jolla, a team that had wins this season against St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda and La Jolla Country Day. Junior guard Aly Maxey (15 ppg), junior guard Macy Pakele (4.2 assists) and sophomore center Clarice Akunwafo (18.8 pts, 10 rebounds) have been the team leaders this year and last year. Menlo is looking to win its fourth CIF state title with the other coming consecutively from 1989 to 1991 when current head coach John Paye was in his first stint leading the program. Paye, the former Stanford QB and 1982 Mr. Football State Player of the Year, returned to head coaching the Knights in 2008 after not coaching them since 1994. He’s got a young but talented core of players led by sophomore point guard Avery Lee (17.0 ppg) and freshman forward Sharon Nejad (12.2 ppg). Both of those players were outstanding in the team’s 53-38 win vs. Enterprise of Redding for the NorCal D2 crown.
Predicted Score: Rolling Hills Prep 50, Menlo School 48.

Division III Boys
University (San Francisco) 27-9 vs. La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 22-13, Friday 4 p.m.

The last time University was in the state championships was in 2015 in Division 5 and let’s just say the Red Devils were a bit of an underdog facing Sierra Canyon before the Trailblazers started to routinely become an Open Division team. They lost that game 80-55. It’s going to be tough to get a win again vs. the Torreys, but not nearly as impossible. The most impressive aspect of head coach Randy Bessolo’s squad is the way it bounced league and city rival Stuart Hall in the CIF North Coast Section playoffs after losing three times to that team earlier in the season. Bessolo has had replace several leading players from last year’s 31-4 team and has done it with seniors Max Fried and senior Charley Moore. Christian Heng’s play at point guard also has been more than solid. For University to win its first state title after four defeats in earlier attempts, however, is probably going to require getting around 6-foot-10 Country Day big man Jayson Taylor (6-foot-10 and headed to Tufts University) or slowing down 6-foot-4 shooting guard Ryan Langborg. Taylor had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Torreys’ 71-43 win vs. Crescenta Valley on Tuesday. Langborg, headed to Princeton, had 20 points and has gone over 2,000 points for his career. La Jolla Country Day also has a top-flight point guard in Ray Lu. There was hope that the Country Day girls, no stranger to CIF state basketball with eight titles under longtime coach Terri Bamford, would be joining the boys in Sacramento this weekend. The girls, though, faltered in their D1 regional final vs. Rosary. Instead, it will the boys as the only San Diego team in Sacramento for the weekend and going for that program’s first state title. It’s been an up-and-down season, but most of the losses have come with starting players on the bench with injuries. That’s not been the case in recent weeks.
Predicted Score: La Jolla Country Day 52, University 46.

McFarland head coach Johnny Samaniego is hoping to add a girls hoops CIF state title to a school trophy case already filled with many of them from cross country. Photo: Juan Esparza Loera / vidaenelvalle.com.

Division III Girls
Oakland 29-5 vs. McFarland 31-5, Friday at 2 p.m.

The Wildcats will be the first of the three Oakland schools that will try to win a state title when they take the floor at the G1C on Friday afternoon. They should be considered the favorites in this game, too. We ranked them first for the D3 girls teams in the state when the pairings first came out based on some of their wins, including one in the early going against Bishop O’Dowd. They had two one-possession wins in league against Oakland Tech, but the Bulldogs have shown those were simply good wins by making it to the CIF state finals themselves in D4. Head coach Orlando Gray’s team will have to watch out for being out-worked on the offensive and defensive boards by a strong, bigger group of girls from McFarland, but the guard combo of Morgan Dunbar (19 points in NorCal final vs. Union Mine) and Kya Pearson (16 points) may be hard for McFarland to deal with. For the Cougars, their resume has some impressive wins on it as well, including one over Sierra Pacific of Hanford (last year’s D5 state champion). Neli Diaz had the winning bucket vs. Palisades with two seconds left in the SoCal D4 final and averages 18.1 ppg. Kathy Rodriguez has been very active inside and gets more than 13 rebounds per game to with 13.0 points. Cougars’ head coach Johnny Samaniego was portrayed in the 2015 McFarland USA movie about the team’s legendary cross country program (actor Kevin Costner portrayed head coach Jim White) as was the father of Neli Diaz. Could this be a sequel? Sorry, but we just like a different kind of cat a bit more.
Predicted Score: Oakland 56, McFarland 51

Division IV Boys
Immanuel (Reedley) 26-8 vs. Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) 26-3, Saturday 12 noon

The CIF can’t change any of the rankings of teams that is given to them by the sections when they seed and decide which divisions that each team is in, but it did look like Ribet Academy was too low being in D4. The Frogs have a computer ranking, for example, that is nearly 100 places higher than Immanuel and was much higher than any team in D4 when the regional playoffs began. We’re the first to say that computer rankings have some flaws, but 100 places is hard to ignore. Ribet also has won each of its regional and section playoff games by at least nine points, and cruised past Silverado of Victorville 84-64 in its regional title game. Head coach Reggie Howard’s squad has interior size that will be hard for Immanuel to handle, including 6-foot-9 sophomore Yuuto Williams and 6-foot-8 junior Ignacio Camacho. Point guard Snookey Wigington has been terrific in recent weeks as well. Ribet’s main player to watch, though, is 6-foot-5 sophomore Tyler Powell, who was an all-state freshman last year at St. Bernard of Playa del Rey. Immanuel is making its first trip to a state final after breaking a six-game losing streak in regional finals with its win on Tuesday over Wood of Vacaville. The Eagles have a promising sophomore of their own in 6-foot-4 Winston Williams, who is averaging a double-double 14.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Their leading scorer is senior guard Jordan Rodriguez at 18.4 ppg.
Predicted Score: Ribet Academy 70, Immanuel 59.

Division IV Girls
Oakland Tech (Oakland) 29-6 vs. Northview (Covina) 31-5, Saturday 10 a.m.

If one looks at how well Oakland High did in the NorCal D3 playoffs and then realizes that this Oakland Tech team only lost to the Wildcats by one point and by two points in the last two meetings between the two and that this Oakland Tech team is in D4, then it’s easy to see why we like the Bulldogs’ chances in this matchup. Head coach LeRoy Hurt’s club also was strong in its last two NorCal playoff games with wins of 62-47 over top seed Silver Creek of San Jose and 59-46 over Menlo-Atherton. Stephanie Okowi had 20 points vs. M-A and is averaging 12.4 ppg. Senior guard Tiffany Siu also has been stellar with 14 ppg. The Bulldogs are seeking their first CIF state title after losing in two straight D1 state finals in the middle of the last decade. Northview has had an historic run to CIFSS and CIF SoCal championships. The Vikings beat the same team (Oak Park) to claim both titles and has the type of balanced team that could give Oakland Tech difficulty. Head coach Danny Silva’s leading players include Autumn Rivera (14.2 ppg, 12.4 reb), Giselle Garcia (12.6 ppg, nine rebs) and Gabby Valdez (10.4 ppg, 4.8 assists). Northview has never been this far before, and sometimes these early start games can be quite unpredictable. We’ll go ahead and predict anyway
Predicted Score: Oakland Tech 46, Northview 42

Edward Turner is the 6-foot-8 shot-blocking and scoring specialist for Foothill of Bakersfield. Photo: TurnTo23.com.

Division V Boys
Mt. Shasta 33-1 vs. Foothill (Bakersfield) 23-11, Friday, 12 noon

Looking at the win-loss records might lead one to believe that Mt. Shasta is the big favorite for this game. It’s actually the other way around. That’s not to take away anything from what the Bears have accomplished. Head coach Cliff Blakely said to Shasta County Sports after the team defeated Dinuba in the NorCal title game that the goal for this season was just to win one NorCal game. Foothill is just not your typical D5 team. In fact, the Trojans for some reason were placed in D5 when the team they beat in their Central Section final, Bakersfield Christian, was placed in D3. That’s certainly not competitive equity seeding and doesn’t match any regional seeding we’ve seen before. Foothill also has not had much competition so far in D5, either. The Trojans are looking to become their school’s second-ever CIF state champ with their D2 title team from 1988. One of the top players on that team was Reggie Phillips, whose nephew, Jaden, is one of the top two players on this year’s squad. Jaden Phillips also is one of the top sophomores in the state, a D1 recruit who averages 16.4 ppg. Edward “Squid” Turner, a 6-foot-8 center, has been another force for the team. Turner averages 17.7 ppg plus 4.8 blocks. Add in 6-foot-6 senior Warren Stingley (11.2 rebounds) and it could be a tough afternoon for Mt. Shasta. For the Bears to get the upset and finish what would be a record-setting 34-1 campaign, they’ll need to get tough-nosed outings from their two biggest players — 6-foot-7 Jett Snure and 6-foot-6 Cody Bauman. They’ll also need their two brothers in the backcourt — Kole and Kaden Riccomini — to have the type of shooting day to stay even or surpass the Trojans.
Predicted Score: Foothill 65, Mt. Shasta 51.

Division V Girls
Caruthers 31-4 vs. Ramona (Riverside) 23-12, Friday 10 a.m.

It may be a long weekend for NorCal boys teams in Sacramento, so if the region hopes to do better than 2-10 against the South this year it may be a good idea for Caruthers to win this matchup. We think the Blue Raiders have a chance to do that and it also would be their first-ever CIF state title. The same would be true for Ramona. It’s hard not to be impressed with head coach Anna Almedia and her Caruthers girls for going on a 470-mile trip on Tuesday to play St. Bernard’s of Eureka for the NorCal D5 title and come home with a win. The Blue Raiders also have a win over D3 state finalist McFarland in their first game and have a win over 2018 D5 state champion Sierra Pacific. Felicia “Fish” Ramirez led the way with 18 points in the team’s section title game win and makes a lot of big plays for Caruthers. One advantage that Ramona should have is inside. The Rams gave Anaheim trouble in that department in their 61-43 win on Tuesday for the SoCal title and would appear have a size edge vs. Caruthers. Amari Guiton (6-foot-1 sophomore) and Prentice Burris (6-foot-1 center) are two to watch for that. Ramona also has an effective scorer in senior guard Savannah Petty (16.5 ppg).
Predicted Score: Caruthers 48, Ramona 44.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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One Comment

  1. Just Joe
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Just spent the day at the CIF State Championships.

    On the court there was great sportsmanship and the behavior of athletes was awesome….however, Joe Davidson @sacbee, your right, the boorish behavior of fans toward officials was unacceptable..due to..foul language, insults, threats etc. As a regular follower of yours on twitter and reader of the bee, I appreciate your column….however….I cant understand where you are going with singling out one adult at an Argonaut game that said “you suck” and using it as your poster child for fan behavior. You refusal to cover local games and current CIF games where behavior and verbal assaults are much worse is irresponsible. Making an example of an out of your area foothill school is dangerous, encouraging bad behavior and deplorable for your local coverage. Your attempt to slander last years Boys Northern California Champion is pathetic. Do kids at that schools deserve your judgement to tarnish their accomplishment. Is there more to your slander?

    Is your article retribution for small foothills schools challenging the current model of “competitive equity?” Or is it that local rural communities are easy targets like the rest of the small conservative communities in California and America? Regardless, whatever your obsession is with them, your reporting in your recent story is FAKE NEWS until you hold your own accountable and you know it.

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