Boys BB: CIF Saturday Finals

Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake operates against the defense of Santa Maria St. Joseph during CIF Open Division state championship. Photo: Samuel Stringer.

In a year with a lot of individual players in the state getting major media attention, Harvard-Westlake of Studio City proved what a great team can do as it wins the CIF Open Division state title. The Wolverines defeated St. Joseph of Santa Maria in a game that the Knights kept within 10 points for most of the way. San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno also wins the CIF D2 state championship (the first for the storied program) while Valencia breezes to its first title in D4.

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Note: Editor and publisher Mark Tennis did the writeup for Valencia vs Half Moon Bay.

The crowd at the CIF State Championships usually anticipates big plays as much as a great game. The crowd at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday night waited for the explosion, but instead got a workmanlike performance from a Harvard-Westlake of Studio City squad that does its job with stellar results.

The result was a 76-65 victory over St. Joseph of Santa Maria in the Open Division state final. It is the program’s fourth overall CIF state crown, but the first in the coveted open division.

In completing their task, the Wolverines showed resiliency after coming up short in their benchmarks in a season that began last June. Harvard-Westlake lost in the title game at the Section 7 event during the June Scholastic period, fell in the title game of the Border League fall event in Las Vegas and lost in the championship game of the top division at The Classic at Damien holiday tournament. The one that hurt the most, however, was falling to St. John Bosco of Bellflower during CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play and not advancing to the section’s open title game versus preseason and then state No. 1 Centennial of Corona.

Jacob Huggins is about to slam one home for Harvard-Westlake in victory over St. Joseph of Santa Maria. Photo: Samuel Stringer / Cal-Hi Sports.

The Wolverines had to wait 14 days for their rematch with St. John Bosco and to try to exercise some demons against Centennial that had won the CIFSS Open title. Harvard-Westlake won on the road vs. Bosco, 69-64, and team catalyst Trent Perry felt the wait and anticipation made the team even more hungry and focused.

“When we had to wait, there is no question it helped (our focus),” said Perry, who finished Saturday night’s open championship game with 16 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals. “I’m just glad we were able to get a second chance.”

Perry led a charge for a team that opposing coaches will always find most difficult to prepare for: a talented one that is capable of having a different scoring leader every night. Even more than Perry’s numbers, it was his vision, play-making and crisp passing that led a team that had four players score between 15 and 18 points in the open title game.

NorCal rep St. Joe’s, the Central Section D1 champ, never led in Saturday night’s game. SoCal is now 8-1 in open division title games (no game was played in both 2020 and 2021).

In an interesting scenario, the Wolverines actually defeated St. Joseph in last year’s SoCal open regional, 63-55. Going North from the CIF Central Section increased the probability of the Knights playing for the CIF state open crown. No team from Santa Barbara County has ever won a major division CIF title and the Knights represent the first team ever from the county to make an appearance. St. Joseph was part of the CIF Southern Section through the 2017-18 season and traveled hundreds of miles in the regional to make it this far as NorCal’s No. 3 seed.

“We didn’t play a great first half,” said St. Joseph coach Tom Mott. “Heading into the fourth quarter, we thought if we could go on a 7-0 or so run, anything could happen at the end. They are not going to let you go on a run, and that’s why they are state champions. Harvard-Westlake did a great job of that tonight.”

St. Joseph (28-7) stayed in range in the first half behind the play of 6-foot-5 senior guard Luis Marin, who used his combination of size and skill to score on a variety of shots around the basket. He had 15 first half points, as the Knights trailed Harvard-Westlake, 35-31, at intermission. In the second half, Harvard-Westlake’s lead got to as big as 15 points, but the Knights did a good job of chipping away and staying within range. The Knights trailed 56-46 entering the fourth period and trailed only 68-61 with 1:22 remaining in the game after Marin nailed a NBA range 3-pointer.

“Our No. 1 goal was to keep Tounde Yessoufou off the offensive glass as I thought they (St. Joseph) do a great job of rebounding the ball,” said Harvard-Westlake coach Dave Rebibo. “As far as slowing Tounde down, Nikolas Khamenia has been saying ‘I got him’ for the past four days.”

Harvard-Westlake out-rebounded the Knights, 34-23. The Wolverines had five turnovers, while St. Jospeh had 10.

As it has throughout the season, Harvard-Wesltake (33-2) had balanced offensive play, as Khamenia, in addition to his defensive work on the state’s top sophomore, had 16 points. Senior forward Brady Dunlap finished with a team-high 18 points, while senior forward Jacob Huggins added 15 points and 12 rebounds, with the overall play of Perry, a junior guard, making a huge difference. He came in battling a shoulder separation and was wearing a harness, but it had no ill effects on his state championship night.

Marin finished with a team-high 18 points for St. Joseph. Yessoufou made 4-of-10 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and finished with 14 points. Senior center Caedin Hamilton had 14 points and tied with Marin for a team-high five rebounds.

As for Rebibo, he won his second state crown after winning in D4 in 2016. On Monday, the Wolverines will officially be named the state’s No. 1 team by Cal-Hi Sports for a second time in program history. In 1996-97, Harvard-Westlake won the D3 state title and finished No. 5 in the National Prep Poll (FAB 50 precursor that our state rankings have factored into since the late 1990s), losing only to a Tracy McGrady-led Mt. Zion club from North Carolina in a Las Vegas Holiday Tourney title game.

Instead of focusing on comparing clubs, Rebibo wanted to focus on what this team accomplished on Saturday and what it did to get to this level, including five consecutive Mission League titles, one of the state’s toughest in recent years. The league also produced D1 state champ Notre Dame on Sherman Oaks on Friday night.

Mike Davis Jr. (5) and head coach Brad Roznovsky of San Joaquin Memorial are shown at the podium of the Golden 1 Center’s press room. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Division II Boys
San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 58, Pacifica Christian (Newport Beach) 47

Through the first nine games of the CIF state championships, the contests didn’t provide any late game drama and many, quite frankly, were not very competitive. That all changed with this intriguing matchup of teams making first time appearances. In fact, the first five boys’ games of the event featured all teams gunning for their first CIF state title and this was the best game of the lot.

San Joaquin Memorial, a CIF Central Section D1 quarterfinalist who lost to NorCal open champ St. Joseph of Santa Maria, topped the Tritons, 68-58, in the first round of the second division (Gold) at The Classic at Damien Tournament after Christmas. This title game was close early with Pacifica Christian (27-10) holding a 25-23 lead. The Tritons had a 30-27 lead, when the Panthers went on runs of 7-0 and 22-4 to take control in the second half and deliver the tradition-rich program its first CIF state title.

When the Panthers’ clawing was done, San Joaquin Memorial (26-9) had a 49-34 lead and was in control with five minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the Tritons employed a full court press in an attempt to speed up San Joaquin Memorial and force some turnovers. Pacifica Christian did make things interesting, but in the end the Panthers made enough free throws and kept its composure to finish the historic victory.

The game’s crucial run was highlighted by a buzzer-beating, desperation corner 3-pointer by junior Dre Davis off a feed from senior guard Amari “Scooter” Carraway that gave the Panthers a 41-33 lead and deflated Pacifica Christian’s fan base.

“I didn’t know that I had room and I thought the clock had run out, but I shot it confidently,” Davis said of his big 3-pointer.

Pacifica Christian had San Joaquin Memorial standout senior forward Mike Davis Jr. with two early fouls, but he didn’t pick up another and dominated the interior, finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds. It was just that type of day for a program from the Central Valley that has produced a plethora of collegiate and professional standouts, including current NBA stars Jalen Green and Brook Lopez, but had never advanced to a state title game.

Added Mike Davis: “That (picking up a third foul) would have had a big effect on the game. Coach told me to be smart and disciplined. Dre’s three was a buildup of our momentum and we took off from there.”

Including this title game, Davis averaged 22.0 ppg through the regionals. Carraway finished with 13 points and three steals and put a lot of pressure on the defense with his play-making. Davis finished with eight points for the Panthers.

“It’s just surreal right now because not too many teams lose in the quarterfinals of section and win a state title,” said San Joaquin Memorial coach Brad Roznovsky, a 1987 graduate of the school and a hoops-baseball guy who was a bit reluctant at first to take over coaching duties. “This is really for our school and program. The guys really bought into us as coaches and what we were trying to do defensively. We can win in different ways.”

San Joaquin Memorial shot 16-of-35 from the field (46 percent). Pacifica Christian shot 14-of-45 from the field (31 percent). When the Tritons’ EJ Spillman converted a field goal with 4:35 to go in the game, it ended a nine-minute scoring drought. The Tritons had three players in double-digits that finished with 11 points: Northwestern-bound Parker Strauss, senior Tanner “Sarge” Seal and Spillman.

“I’m really proud of this group and I just didn’t want it to be over with this group,” Pacifica Christian coach Jeff Berokoff said. “You got to make a few chippies down there near the basket in the fourth quarter when you’re fighting hard. It just wasn’t there tonight.”

Junior center Bryce Bedgood (left) and father Bill, the head coach, got to experience winning a CIF state title in what is the last game that Bedgood has coached for the Vikings. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Division IV Boys
Valencia 89, Half Moon Bay 59

The lopsided nature of the final score might have been expected given Valencia’s placement into Division IV when it’s a team that lost by less than 15 points in two Foothill League games to a West Ranch (Valencia) team that has been nationally ranked. There was more to the story, however.

Half Moon Bay was tied with the Vikings after the first quarter 20-20 and was hitting its open three-pointers. Then disaster struck when promising 6-foot-8 junior Jaeden Hutchins (who had a 33-point game earlier in the playoffs) suffered a sprained ankle.

Hutchins was the only Half Moon Bay player capable of matching up with Valencia’s two front court stars, 6-foot-8 junior Bryce Bedgood and 6-foot-6 senior strongman Mikah Ballew. He did not come out for the second quarter and never returned to the game. Valencia (27-10) outscored the Cougars, 20-6, after Hutchins’ injury and led 43-32 at halftime. After the intermission, Valencia played like a team that played competitively with West Ranch.

“For sure, his absence was felt,” Valencia head coach Bill Bedgood (the father of Bryce) said of the injury. “We made it an emphasis to get inside without him there.”

Bedgood’s dunk with 5:02 in the 3rd period gave Valencia (27-10) a 54-34 lead and the Vikings were off to the races from there with their first CIF state title. Ballew finished with 25 points in his last game and Bedgood had a terrific all-around performance with 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and two steals.

The coach also talked about the team coming back this season from winning just five games last season and about his own decision to step away from coaching to be more of a fatherly presence for his son in his senior year plus to his other two childern (age 5 and 12).

“A lot of guys up here experienced it,” Bedgood said as he motioned to the players standing around him. “It was just a mentality that was changed. We’re not here without that experience.”

As for coaching, he said: “Being a dad makes you a better coach, but I don’t know if being a coach makes you a better dad.”

Bedgood is a teacher at Valencia and will be continuing to work at the school.

His son said during the same exchange with reporters: “I wanted to send him out with a win. He’s done a great job.”

Half Moon Bay (20-11), which had to win in its regional final in a road trip to Chico, was led by Gio Garduno-Martin with 18 points. Dio Lucido also capped his senior season with a strong outing. He had 11 points, nine assists and three steals while Drew Dorwin had 13 points.

“I’m extremely proud of the guys for the season they had,” said Cougars’ head coach John Parsons. “Of course when Jaeden went out early it put us behind the 8-ball.”

Hutchins said he hoped the injury wasn’t a broken foot, which is an injury he’s had before, but the trainers wouldn’t clear him to go back in after he had the foot and ankle taped.

Parsons also was asked how the team helped the Half Moon Bay community heal from a mass shooting in late January that killed seven people and injured another.

“It was dark times in Half Moon Bay with the shooting and with all of the mass shootings in this country,” Parsons said. “These guys gave the community something to rally behind. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done to help the community.”

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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