The 20th annual West Coast Jamboree concluded in the Platinum Division on Monday night at College Park High in Pleasant Hill where it was a matchup between two of the state’s top five ranked teams. The most historical moment of the night, though, occurred in the third-place game when Archbishop Mitty of San Jose head coach Sue Phillips won the 700th game of her career.
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Before the Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth girls basketball teams hit the floor for the title game of the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree, it was already known that unbeaten Cal-Hi Sports state No. 1 La Jolla Country Day had dropped its first game of the season earlier in the evening in the title game of a different tournament in San Diego to Long Beach Poly.
Sierra Canyon, the defending CIF Open Division state champions with a wealth of returning standouts, was looking to make a statement after losing to La Jolla Country Day by one point in the finals of the top division at the Nike Tournament of Champions.
Instead, the statement after Monday night’s games may be this: It’s going to be a dogfight anytime one of the top four or five teams in the state plays each other and any one of them can win on any given night.
Mater Dei scratched out an early lead against the Trailblazers and really never let it go in posting a 43-42 victory before a packed gym at College Park High in Pleasant Hill. A big moment for the Monarchs, who lost their only game in overtime to Long Beach Poly in a different tourney final, came in the closing seconds of the third quarter when Soleil Montrose buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give them a 31-27 lead.
With the two head coaches, Kevin Kiernan of Mater Dei and his former assistant, Alicia Komaki of Sierra Canyon, employing difficult defensive strategies, getting a four-point lead in that type of a game seemed to feel as if it was much larger. The Trailblazers tried a couple of three-pointers in the last 30 seconds that could have cut it to a one-point lead but the shots didn’t fall. There was one last shot that did go in, but Mater Dei already had secured the win.
Alyssa Frescas led the Monarchs with 12 points and joined teammate and MVP Brooke Demetre on the all-tourney team along with Meaali’i Amosa who finished with 12 rebounds to go with eight points. Demetre, the team’s talented junior forward, was held in check by Sierra Canyon’s defense but was honored for her output from earlier in the tourney. Caia Elisaldez also hit double figures with 10 points while Montrose finished with nine.
Vanessa Smart, who was once the Ventura County Player of the Year at her previous school (Hueneme of Oxnard), kept Sierra Canyon close by making three from three-point land in the first quarter. She ended with a game-high 17 points. The Trailblazers’ other lead guards, Vanessa DeJesus and Ashley Chevalier, got the bulk of the defensive attention from Mater Dei and could only score seven and six points, respectively.
Both teams will have further opportunities to try to secure the important No. 1 seed for the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs (although Long Beach Poly may be the leader for that right now). It’s also important to note that for the second year there will be home sites used for the CIF Southern California Open Division regional final and none of the CIFSS teams will want to have to travel to La Jolla to play in that game.
Third-Place Game Platinum Division
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 75, St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 39
The big storyline after the Monarchs breezed past the Pilots was that head coach Sue Phillips became just the fifth coach in the history of California girls hoops (according to our own Cal-Hi Sports state records) to win 700 games.
Mitty improved to 8-3 with its losses to Mater Dei (in the semifinals of the Jamboree played last Saturday 47-41), nationally ranked Riverdale Baptist of Maryland (58-51) and La Jolla Country Day. The Monarchs led 17-8 over the Pilots after the first quarter and went nuts in the second quarter to take a 54-27 lead.
Phillips’ girls will only get better. She has a lineup almost exclusively of juniors and sophomores and the group may add standout junior Hunter Hernandez (rehabbing a knee injury) before the end of the season.
Vanessa Smart was the Cal-Hi state POY and John Wooden award winner in 2018. Overall 5 time POY in 2018. This is a comeback season, she missed her junior year with an acl injury.