Boys/Girls BB: More Section Finals

Players from the Mater Dei (Santa Ana) girls basketball team celebrate after winning CIFSS Open Division title on Friday night in Long Beach. Photo: Scott Kurtz / KurtzPhoto.

This isn’t a recap of all of them, but several of Friday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title games and the showdown between state No. 2 Mater Dei and No. 4 Windward (Los Angeles) for the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls championship were witnessed by Cal-Hi Sports editors. Boys state No. 4 Sheldon (Sacramento) was nearly knocked off by Capital Christian of Sacramento in what would have been a monumental upset. Mater Dei’s girls, meanwhile, won the 11th section title for head coach Kevin Kiernan.

RELATED: Sierra Canyon boys win CIFSS crown

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CIFSS Girls Open Division:
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 77, Windward (Los Angeles) 65

The final score didn’t reflect the back-and-forth nature of this contest since Windward led at halftime (36-33) and the two teams were tied 54-54 early in the fourth quarter. Mater Dei just took over down the stretch as its full-court press created turnovers.

The Monarchs (30-2 and No. 2 in the state) likely will be the No. 2 seed for the upcoming CIF Southern California Open Division regional playoffs (unless current state No. 1 La Jolla Country Day were to get upset in its section final on Saturday night). Windward (25-5 and No. 4 in the state) along with perhaps four other CIFSS Open Division teams also will be in that bracket, which will be finalized and announced on Sunday.

It took a group effort for Mater Dei to get past Windward on a night when team’s most accomplished player, junior Brooke Demetre (the 2019 State Sophomore of the Year), had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Soleil Montrose connected on 4-of-4 on 3-pointers and led with 20 points. Caia Elisaldez, just a freshman, had 14 points and nine assists while Alyssa Durazo-Frescas chipped in with 16 points.

JuJu Watkins, the freshman sensation for the Wildcats stepping into the same role former Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Charisma Osborne had in the program for the previous four years, had 22 points in the first half and had 26 heading into the fourth quarter, but facing the full-court press she only had two points after that.

Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan won his 11th CIFSS title, but the Monarchs hadn’t won one since 2013 and for this one the state’s winningest coach ever was able to share it with his daughter, senior starter Camryn Kiernan.

Marcus Bagley played much of the second half in foul trouble but still led all scorers with 21 points. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Sac-Joaquin Sec D1 Boys:
Sheldon (Sacramento) 49, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 46

Other than mentioning that it was “just a flat game all around,” Sheldon head coach Joey Rollings stressed the positives after the state No. 4 Huskies (and viewed to be the only team in Northern California with much of a chance at being close to the top team from Southern California in the final game of the season) escaped a strong upset bid from the Cougars in their section title game played at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

Plagued by poor shooting — even just 13 of 27 on free throws — Sheldon (27-5) also had to overcome a poor start (five points in the first quarter). Capital Christian had the game tied and had the ball in the last two minutes of the game, but never got the lead after two free throws by Marcus Bagley (game-high 21 points) with 1:29 left. Dontrell Hewlett also canned a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left for a 48-44 lead, but two missed free throws on the front end of one-and-one situations in the last 6.9 seconds gave the Cougars a chance at a possible game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Sione Lose’s shot, however, fell far short.

Rollings’ squad captured its seventh section title and its second in a row and will now look to win a third straight CIF NorCal Open Division crown. It should be a top seed and first-round bye, but the coach stressed that none of that matters.

“Either way, we’re used to playing three games (in 10 days),” he said. “It’s going to be hard battles no matter what.”

Capital Christian (24-8) may be in the NorCal Open field as well after playing the Huskies so close. Head coach Matt Filer has a young group, though, (including sophomore Darrion Williams, who had 17 points on Friday), so being in the D1 bracket may make the most sense. The Cougars lost to Sheldon 88-68 earlier in the season and have other losses that make them not look like an Open team, but they also have a win in their second game over Salesian of Richmond.

Sac-Joaquin Sec D1 Girls:
St. Mary’s (Stockton) 56, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 45

Amaya Oliver had 18 points with five rebounds and three assists as the Rams (23-4) won their eighth straight D1 section title, their 13th straight overall and 18th in 19 years under head coach Tom Gonsalves. Oak Ridge has often played a determined brand of basketball under head coach Steve White, who recently won his 600th game. The Trojans (23-8), who were led by Teagan Brown with 18 points, never could get to the point to really pressure the Rams after the teams were tied at the end of the first quarter and then it was a 16-6 edge for St. Mary’s in the second.

Freshman Nia Anderson was a standout for St. Mary’s with 10 points as she’s the one who seems to be having to step up the most after another freshman, Brooklyn Perry, went down with a knee injury. Sophomore Tai Sherman added 12 points and three steals.

Gonsalves is hoping for a No. 2 seed for the NorCal Open Division and proudly pointed out that his program is the only one in California that has been in every Open Division bracket for Northern California since the format was adopted in 2013.

We agree with the No. 2 spot for the state No. 8 Rams, but advised the coach not to be shocked if the CIF were to put Clovis West of Fresno in that spot. Clovis West still has to play its section final on Saturday night. A lot of girls basketball coaches in Northern California aren’t used to the Clovis schools even being in the north (they’ve been in the south before) but that has been the trend in other sports the last few years.

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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