These 12 teams were supposed to have played on Friday at the Golden 1 Center in the CIF state basketball championships. As a salute to the teams and players we won’t get to see due to the event’s cancellation (we have gone to every CIF state championship since the event began in 1981), here is a lineup of those squads. Congratulations on a great season to boys teams from San Domenico (San Rafael), Eastside (Lancaster), St. Mary’s (Berkeley), Arroyo Grande, Campolindo (Moraga) and Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) plus girls teams from Branson (Ross), East Bakersfield, St. Mary’s (Berkeley), Paloma Valley (Menifee), Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) and Rosary (Fullerton).
Note: There will be final state rankings for each division in which one of the two finalists will be ranked lower than the other one, but to be respectful of the state championship event being cancelled for the first time we won’t mention rankings in this post. We’ll never know which one of the lower-ranked teams would have been able to pull off an upset.
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DIVISION I BOYS
Ribet Academy Fighting Frogs (Los Angeles)
Final Record: 30-3
Head Coach: Reggie Howard
SoCal Regional Championship: Facing a team that Ribet split with in regular season games in the Harbor League, senior guard Snookey Wigington scored 15 points to lead the way in a 45-31 victory over Renaissance Academy of La Canada. Junior forward Tyler Powell, who sank the game-winning shot in the regional semifinals against Windward of Los Angeles, added 10 points.
History: The Frogs won last year’s CIF D4 state title (the program’s first) and were looking to win a second straight in a much higher division. They also won a CIF state title in 1991 in D5.
Campolindo Cougars (Moraga)
Final Record: 26-6
Head Coach: Steven Dyer
NorCal Regional Championship: Coming from a No. 7 seed, the Cougars completed their run to the regional title with a 54-49 victory vs. De La Salle of Concord. They beat higher-ranked Salesian of Richmond in the regional semifinals. De La Salle advanced after top seed Archbishop Riordan had to drop out. The Spartans made it close at the end after trailing by 41-23 in the third quarter, but Campolindo made its free throws in the final minutes. Emmanuel Callas led all scorers in the game with 18 points.
History: The Cougars won last year’s CIF D2 state title and were looking to win a second straight in a higher division. Since standout guard Aidan Mahaney will be back next year for his junior season, Campo should be back as a NorCal Open and D1 title contender.
DIVISION I GIRLS
Rosary Academy Royals (Fullerton)
Final Record: 23-12
Head Coach: Rich Yoon
SoCal Regional Championship: San Diego State-bound Asia Avinger showed some of her future fans down in the San Diego area what to expect with 20 points in leading Rosary past Cathedral Catholic of San Diego 55-48. Loyola Marymount-bound Nicole Rodriguez also had a big game with 19 points. Cathedral Catholic had an earlier win over the Royals, but in this game a 10-2 run to start the game gave Rosary an edge that it never relinquished.
History: The Royals won last year’s CIF D1 state title (the program’s second in three years) and were looking to win a second straight state title in the same division. They also were trying to make it three state title in four years (the title in 2017 was in D3).
Bishop O’Dowd Dragons (Oakland)
Final Record: 23-7
Head Coach: Malik McCord
NorCal Regional Championship: After losing to St. Joseph Notre Dame in the CIF North Coast Section Open Division playoffs, the Dragons came back to win another NorCal crown. They had lost earlier in the season to their NorCal finals’ opponent, Salesian of Richmond, 55-52, but got past the Pride in the game that mattered the most, 62-60.
History: The first-ever CIF Open Division state champions from 2013 lost in last year’s CIF D1 state final to Rosary and was hoping to beat the Royals in a rematch. O’Dowd already had beaten Rosary 43-40 in a game earlier this season. McCord also has two CIF D3 state championships from 2012 and 2015.
DIVISION III BOYS
Arroyo Grande Eagles
Final Record: 28-6
Head Coach: Ryan Glanville
SoCal Regional Championship: This team blew up in the SoCal portion of this state bracket after losing to Clovis West in the first-ever CIF Central Section Open Division playoffs. The Eagles topped Providence of Burbank 79-69 to win their regional title after beating three straight L.A. City Section teams to get that far. Senior guard Gage Gomez averaged 21 ppg for the season and 24 for the playoffs. Robert Hutchens, another senior, wasn’t far behind with 19 ppg overall.
History: This would have been school’s first trip to the CIF state finals (boys or girls). We remember seeing Arroyo Grande in the 2012 CIF Southern Section finals in D3AAA when they had all-state grid-hooper Brent VanderVeen.
St. Mary’s Panthers (Berkeley)
Final Record: 26-10
Head Coach: Rich Buckner
NorCal Regional Championship: Two years after losing in the regional finals, the Panthers got it done with a 68-53 victory over Carmel. Jason Roche popped in 23 points, Leo Tillson added 14 and Hugo May had eight assists to go with six fourth-quarter free throws. Five of St. Mary’s losses came to higher-ranked teams Salesian (Richmond) and St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo). Salesian also was in D1 while St. Pat was in D2 so being in D3 was a great spot to be for St. Mary’s. Buckner also won his first regional title after losing three times in previous region finals when he was at Archbishop Riordan and then again two years ago.
History: The Panthers won a CIF state title in D4 in 2001 with a victory over Crossroads of Santa Monica. They lost in D4 state finals in 2008 and 2010 and in 2008 were the losing team in the final prep game of North Hollywood Campbell Hall standout Jrue Holiday (now in the NBA).
DIVISION III GIRLS
Paloma Valley Wildcats (Menifee)
Final Record: 34-3
Head Coach: Matt Dale
SoCal Regional Championship: Mya Pierfax knocked down 19 points while Sydney Woodley came through with 16 points and 15 rebounds as Paloma Valley captured its regional crown by beating Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates 60-48. The Wildcats also won their 19th straight game and took control with a 15-0 run in the second quarter.
History: The Wildcats were scheduled to be in the school’s first-ever CIF state championship (boys or girls) and if they had won would have ended with 35 wins. The state record of 38 was set at 38 in 1994 by Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton and tied the next season by the same school. A total of 34 still gives Paloma Valley a listing in our all-time state records. One of those others with 34 is Riverside Poly 1982, another Inland Empire school.
St. Mary’s Panthers (Berkeley)
Final Record: 27-7
Head Coach: Chris Toler
NorCal Regional Championship: Ameyla Taylor pumped in 20 points while Kayla Rosemon double-doubled with 12 points and 16 rebounds in a 68-59 victory over Woodside Priory of Portola Valley. Several of the Panther seniors were freshmen on the 2017 team that lost in the regional finals. They beat a Woodside Priory team that won the NorCal D4 title two years ago.
History: St. Mary’s was hoping to win its first CIF state title after losses in two straight trips to the D4 state finals in 2010 and 2011.
DIVISION V BOYS
Eastside Lions (Lancaster)
Final Record: 19-13
Head Coach: Francisco Munoz
SoCal Regional Championship: Playing an L.A. Roosevelt team that had won its first-ever L.A. City Section title, the Lions made their free throws down the stretch to clinch the win. The top-seeded team in the bracket was led by Aubhrey Pender with 15 points and Omarion Barber with 10 points.
History: Munoz completed his first season as Eastside’s head coach. The team improved from a 7-14 season from 2019.
San Domenico Panthers (San Anselmo)
Final Record: 21-12
Head Coach: Mike Fulton
NorCal Regional Championship: Top seed Pierce of Arbuckle had been unbeaten at home, but the Panthers wore down the Bears in the second half with their 10-man depth and pulled away for a 58-37 victory. San Domenico, which didn’t win a game in its league last season, was led in scoring for the season by Serbian transfer guard Aleksa Melentijevic with 14 ppg. Senior Grey Snyder also was a frequent double-digit scorer at 10 ppg.
History: This would have been the first appearance for the Panthers, but their head coach previously worked with the nearby Branson of Ross girls and in 2007 and 2008 guided those teams to back-to-back state titles.
DIVISION V GIRLS
East Bakersfield Blades
Final Record: 23-9
Head Coach: Bobby Sharp
SoCal Regional Championship: Senior guard Kanyah Patterson poured in 25 points to lead East Bakersfield past Madison of San Diego 56-42. Sharp completed his fourth season for the Blades, which were 1-22 in the previous season before he arrived.
History: This school has won a CIF state title before on the boys side in 1994 when J.R. Henderson led the Blades to a D2 title. The Blades also were looking to duplicate the D5 boys title won by a different Bakersfield school (Foothill).
Branson Bulls (Ross)
Final Record: 26-9
Head Coach: Zach Borello
NorCal Regional Championship: Bouncing back from a loss in the NCS D5 final to Cloverdale, Branson went on the road to knock off top seed West Valley of Cottonwood 57-48 in the regional final. The team, which probably benefited in D5 by playing strong competition in the Marin County Athletic League, received 24 points from freshman Hannah Golan and inspiring play from sophomore guard Jaliyah Williams.
History: It’s been awhile but Branson was a D5 regular in the NorCal playoffs in the 2000s and in 2007 and 2008 won back-to-back CIF state titles in D5. The coach of those teams, Mike Fulton, would have been in the arena in the next game after this year’s D5 girls state final since he’s now the head coach of the San Domenico boys.
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