SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Game stories, box scores, live blogging and pictures from state finals on Friday.
DIVISION II BOYS
Eisenhower (Rialto) Eagles (31-3) vs. Rocklin Thunder (33-2)
Final score: Eisenhower 73, Rocklin 61
Down 11-3 early, Eisenhower co-captain and emotional leader Nazareth Richardson, a smallish 6-foot-1 forward, went up for a putback and got rejected by 6-10 UCLA-bound giant Brendan Lane.
The major majority of the 10,033 fans at Arco Arena, clad in rich Rocklin blue and white, let out a giant roar.
Richardson got the ball back and put up another shot.
Another rejection. More rejoice.
Richardson fought for the ball a third time and this time avoided the long arm of Lane.
This time the ball banked home. The Rocklin crowd went quiet.
It seemed a relative meaningless hoop in Eisenhower’s 73-61 CIF Division II State Championship victory on Friday, but it revealed everything.
The Eagles (32-3) were relentless, undaunted and ultimately successful in becoming San Bernardino County’s first-ever CIF boys basketball champion while snapping Rocklin’s 22-game win streak.
They gave an inspiring lesson to the little guy by utilizing remarkable quickness and tenacity to slay the vastly bigger and seemingly stronger Thunder led by the efforts of Lane, who was a one-man empire with a triple double: 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Richardson had just six points, but his early play set the tone, one that helped inspired guys like Andrew Bock (17 points) and Alex Varner, Nicholas Carter and Bryan Bock, who all had 11.
All mentioned are either 6-1 or 6-2. They’re hard to tell apart. Rocklin had trouble getting a body on any of them as the Eagles seemed to collect every loose ball below the rim, especially those below the knee to win this meeting of first-time state-title entrees. .
“We just keep going and we never stop,” Richardson said. “That’s what we’ve been doing since the first day of practice all the way to today. It all paid off.”
The money was on Rocklin around these parts, about a 30-minute drive North up Highway 80. The two teams met before, in a MaxPreps Holiday Classic tournament game and Eisenhower won that one also, 77-66, when the Eagles drilled 14 3-pointers and Bock and Carter combined for 47 points.
Rocklin coach Steve Taylor thought he had a pretty good handle on the Eagles this time. They couldn’t possibly shoot as well as the first and sure enough they didn’t, making just 26 of 63 shots (41 percent), including 8 of 23 on 3s (35 percent).
But despite falling behind early, despite 17 points off the bench by Anthony Romero, the Eagles had an answer for every challenge, every blocked shot, every Rocklin run.
“The difference was they got to every loose ball,” said a dejected Lane. “They were tougher. We have to give them credit. We gave our all, but they gave a little more.”
The Thunder (33-3) can’t fault their effort. There wouldn’t have been so many loose balls had they been able to put the ball in the bucket.
They made just 21 of 65 shots (32 percent), including 4 of 20 on 3-pointers (20 percent). What shook Taylor’s noggin was the team’s 17 of 45 performance on 2s.
“On the year we shot like 56 percent on two-pointers,” Taylor said. “Tonight we couldn’t put it on a lot of short ones. There was a lot of contact around the rim that wasn’t called. That’s not an excuse, that’s just how it was.”
Taylor said his team’s goal was to hold Eisenhower in the 60s, so even though the Eagles ended the half on a 14-5 run to take a 31-27 halftime lead, he was pleased, especially defensively.
The Thunder had shadowed Andrew Bock and limited him to just three points and two shots. Carter had four. The Creighton-bound Andrew Bock had 25 in the first game.
But late in the half, Bock’s younger brother Bryan drilled a 3-pointer, then a bank shot. Keyon Sayles added a runner and Carter ended the half with a jumper near the buzzer.
The Eagles were finding seems in Rocklin’s 2-2 extended zone and making shots. If not, then they were getting offensive rebounds. They finished with 16 of and 41 overall. Rocklin had 24 offensive rebounds and 47 overall.
“You have to give them credit, other guys stepped up for them,” Taylor said.
Said Eagles coach Steve Johnson: “We have a lot of guys who have contributed all year. Andrew does a great job and leads the team, but we’re not a one-man team by any means.”
When Varner bounced in a 3-pointer to start the second half, leading a 9-3 run, the Eagles were breaking away, leading 40-30. Rocklin scored four quick ones, but like they did all night, Eisenhower responded, with a 10-2 run and the Eagles were really never threatened again.
As hard as they tried, the Thunder never got within eight points in the fourth quarter. A long 3-pointer by Carter as the shot clock ran out with 1:50 left was the dagger.
“I was missing most of the game, but this time I didn’t have time to think, I just shot,” Carter said. “I thought it was short, but it rattled home. It was a great feeling.”
As it was for the Eagles when the final horn sounded.
“It’s crazy,” said Andrew Bock, who made 5 of 8 shots and all seven of his free throws. “It hasn’t sunk in. We just never gave in and always attacked. We talked all year about winning CIF but not really state. But when we won CIF we decided we could win state too. It feels great.”
Said Carter: “We just had the right mix of guys and the right coach. We all knew what we had to do and we did it. We may be short but we play real big.”
Eisenhower 13 18 22 20 -- 73
Rocklin 18 9 13 21 -- 61
Richardson 3-5 0-0 6, A.Bock 5-8 7-7 17, Ireland 0-8 2-2 2, Varner 4-8 0-0
11, Carter 4-11 1-2 11, B.Bock 4-9 0-0 11, Sayles 2-3 3-4 7, Garner 3-5
0-0 6, Gardner 1-6 0-0 2, Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Lockett 0-0
0-0 0, Vinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-63 13-15 73.
Cummings 1-4 0-2 2, Lane 8-21 10-14 27, Kale 2-7 1-3 5, Stover 3-13 0-0 6,
Romero 5-11 4-5 17, Frandsen 2-2 0-0 4, Williams 0-4 0-0 0, Day 0-1 0-0 0,
Moss 0-0 0-0 0, Seppinni 0-1 0-0 0, Cowan 0-0 0-0 0, Barnette 0-1 0-0 0,
Prone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-65 15-24 61.
Three-point shots: Eisenhower 8-23 (Varner 3-5, B.Bock 3-7, Carter 2-7, A.Bock 0-1, Ireland 0-1, Gardner 0-2), Rocklin 4-20 (Romero 3-6, Lane 1-7, Day 0-1, Barnette 0-1, Kale 0-1, Williams 0-2). Rebounds: Eisenhower 42 (Varner 7), Rocklin 50 (Lane 19). Turnovers: Eisenhower 21, Rocklin 22. A - 10,033.
Fourth quarter: The Rocklin faithful begin the chant: "yes we can, yes we can." I'm not sure they can. The pace in the first 4:20 is totally in Eisenhower's favor: frentic. Rocklin is getting buckets, but Eisenhower always has an answer. Andrew Bock is either scoring or assisting. ... A fastbreak layup by Devin Garner gives Eagles 57-44 lead. ... Rocklin respondes with 9-4 run, capped by a putback and free throw by lane, making it 61-53 with 3:39 left. ... "Yes we can, yes we can," is the chant. ... Lane misses a chip shot and Rocklin faithful gets quiet. ... . Carter hits 3-pointer as shot clock hits zero. Dagger. That should do it. Eisenhower leads 66-53 with 1:50 left. ... Rocklin can't string anything of substance together. ... It's a free throw war and Eisenhower is making them. ... Rocklin coach Steve Taylor isn't going down without a fight. He calles two timeouts in the final 23 seconds with his team hopelessly beat. ... Now Eisenhower calls timeout with 13.5 seconds left and the Eagles leading 71-61. ... Eisenhower wins but it's a subdued celebration. The team is cool on the court and in celebration. Andrew Bock leads Eisenhower with 17 points, while three players have 11: Bryan Bock, Varner and Carter. Offset a remarkable performance by Lane: 26 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks. Romero added 17. Final score: Eisenhower 73, Rocklin 61.
Third quarter: Varner opens the third with another "fortunate" 3, bouncing off the rim, backboard and in. ... The Wildcats open up a 10-point lead 40-30 lead with a 9-3 run to start the quarter, making it a 23-8 run overall since midway through the second. ... Keyon Sayles has a steal and breakaway layup and Andrew Bock finishes off the streak with a spectacular reverse layup. ... The Thunder is called for back-to-back offensive fouls on Lane and Cale, both of whom made baskets on the calls. Each were close leaving coach Taylor livid but under control. ... This one is starting to get away from Rocklin as after closing to 40-34, Eagles streak to 13-4 run to go up 53-38, capped by a 3-pointer from Bryan Bock. ... The game is completely at Eisenhower's pace. ... Everything Rocklin is doing is rushed, which feeds right into Eisenhower's plan. End of three quarters: Eisenhower 53, Rocklin 40.
Second quarter: Eisenhower's quickness is giving Rocklin some problems. ... The Eagles are tiny and coach Steve Johnson is going small. ... Right now it's paying off. Four different players score buckets during a 9-4 run and we were tied for the first time since 3-3 at 22-22. ... A key play that might be decisive: Varner takes a 3-pointer that hits back iron, goes straight up and bounces. Rocklin coach Steve Taylor screams the ball hit the scoreboard which would have negated the hoop. Most on press row agree. ... Eisenhower takes first lead since 3-2 on second straight bucket from the other Bock, Andrew's younger brother Bryan makes a 3-pointer and then bank shot and Eisenhower takes its first lead since 3-2 with 1:36 left in the half, 27-25. ... A tough floater in the lane by Carter finishes off 14-5 run to end the half. Halftime score: Eisenhower 31, Rocklin 27. Amazingly, Eisenhower holds an edge in rebounds (18-15) and shooting percentage (.481 to .400). ... Rocklin has taken Andrew Bock out of the game completely by shadowing him with various defenders, leaving a 2-2 zone. The Eagles, with their vast quickness, is finding seams and getting some midrange jumpers. ... Bryan Bock leads the Eagles with eight points and Varner six. ... Lane has seven, all early, and Romero eight for Rocklin. ... Unlike the last game, Brea Olinda's 68-45 win over Carondelet in girls when there were 39 fouls called and 46 free throws, this one has featured nine fouls and three free throws in the first half.
First quarter: What a crowd.... The lower deck is almost entirely filled, which would be about 9,000 fans. ... Most are clad in Rocklin blue and white, but Eisenhower has brought a nice contingent of green, white and gold from Rialto. ... As scripted, the Thunder is dominating down low. ... Lane has three interior buckets and four blocks and Stover has a bucket inside. ... All seven of Rocklin's makes are in the paint. ... Eisenhower isn't going any where and here's the play to demonstrate it: Nazareth Richardson, a 6-1 senior, gets rejected twice by Lane, gets the ball back and again goes up against Lane. This time he banks it home. ... A 3-pointer by Alex Varner cuts Rocklin's lead to 13-10, Jackson Cummings answers, Andrew Bock scores his first bucket of the quarter, a tough learner while being fouled, and makes the free throw, making it 15-13. ... But Anthony Romero answers with a 3-pointer. End of one: Rocklin 18, Eisenhower 13.
DIVISION V BOYS
Windward Wildcats (28-6) vs. St. Joseph-Notre Dame Pilots (26-8)
Final score: Windward 69, St. Joseph 53
This one was decided in the first 3 minutes and 53 seconds.
Windward not only raced to a 10-0 lead, but the Wildcats, specifically 6-foot-10 senior center Anthony Stover, imposed their will.
And even though the St. Joseph Pilots, a gritty, determined group who pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in state history last week, had more than 28 minutes to fight back, sorry. They simply didn’t have enough sheer talent or even gumption to win this one.
And that’s not a knock on the Pilots. It’s a statement on behalf of the Wildcats, who got 25 points from 6-4 Michigan-bound guard Darius Morris, 21 points by super 6-5 sophomore Wesley Saunders and 14 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in a 69-53 CIF State Division V victory Friday night at Arco Arena.
It was Windward’s 19th straight win and much like the other 18, this one was never in jeopardy. Only one of the 19 straight wins were by single digits.
“I think we got them shaking a little at first,” said Stover. “I tried to let them know if they put up a shot down low it was going to be threatened.”
Unfortunately for the Pilots (26-9), they never really did.
Jacari Whitfield had 13, Dominic Lippi 12 and D’Angelo Hutton 11 for St. Joseph, which cut a once 20 points lead to 12 at the end of the third quarter, but never got within eight points after the initial flurry.
And Stover’s fly swat session.
“We were a little timid after that,” Hutton said. “Instead of shooting we were doing a lot of faking.”
Clearly, though, the Wildcats are the real deal and are no ordinary Div. V (small enrollment) team.
St. Joseph coach Don Lippi, who has coached more than 30 years with stints at Skyline (Oakland), Stanford (one year) and St.. Ignatius, was more than a little challenged when looking at game film of Morris, a shooting guard who can get to the rim, Stover, a major college shot blocker, and Malcolm Washington, a solid 5-11 senior who is as well known for his solid point guard play as being the son of Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington.
What Lippi wasn’t prepared for was Saunders, who 7 of 8 field goals, 7 of 9 free throws and at times took over the game.
“We had no answer for (Saunders),” Lippi said. “We didn’t notice him doing that in game film. He’s some kind of athlete, a very strong boy. He was a bad match-up for us.”
Said Windward coach Miguel Villegas: “He’s been our X-factor. We’ve been waiting all year to come out and do what he did tonight and tonight he was fabulous.”
Windward figured to be pretty fabulous with Morris, Washington and Saunders, but when Stover transferred in from Renaissance, the Wildcats became an instant Division V favorite. Villegas toughened them up with a brutal nonleague schedule which featured losses four state finalists: Westchester (72-52), Bishop Montgomery (62-61), Rocklin (77-66) and Bellevue, Wash.(57-48).
After getting blown out by 2008 Div. IV state champions Campbell Hall (70-52) on Jan. 10, Windward turned the corner. It didn’t hurt the Wildcats started playing teams their own size – enrollment wise anyway.
For Morris and Washington, four-year letterman who played for the team during lean years, this was the culmination of a complete transformation.
“This is a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” Morris said. “It’s a once in a lifetime moment.”
Said Washington: “To see how far we’ve come since our freshman year is kind of indescribable. I love these guys. I can’t wait to celebrate and bring this trophy back to Southern California.”
For Stover it was sort of a surreal moment. A year ago almost to the day his Renaissance team lost in the state finals to Branson 40-33.
“This feels way different,” Stover said. “Last year I had my head down and I was looking out the door. Now all I can do is smile. It’s one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Final Box Score:
Windward 69, St. Joseph 53
Windward 19 15 16 19 - 69
St. Joseph 6 10 22 15 - 53
WINDWARD (29-6): Darius Morris 10-19 5-6 25, Malcolm Washington 3-6 0-0 6, Anthony Stover 6-8 2-4 14, Jacob Rubin 0-1 0-0 0, Matthew Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Kwame Firepwong 1-5 0-0 3, Wesley Saunders 7-8 7-9 21, Luke Silverman-Lloyd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-51 14-19 69.
ST. JOSEPH (26-9): Ozei Evans 3-5 0-1 6, Jacari Whitfield 4-14 2-2 13, D'angelo Hutton 5-9 1-1 11, Brendan Keane 2-5 4-4 8, Chris Garcia 0-2 0-0 0, Dominic Lippi 3-7 4-4 12, Daniel Gargantifa 1-2 0-0 2, Kyle Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Billy Connacher 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 12-14 53.
3-point goals: Windward 1-10 (Firepwong), St. Joseph 5-16 (Whitfield 3, Lippi 2). Rebounds: Windward 37 (Morris 8), St. Joseph 20. Turnovers: Windward 21, St. Joseph 20.
Fourth quarter: It's just not fair. ... There's at least three major Division I players for the Wildcats and Morris is finishing off his career in style. He's got eight points in the quarter, finished with a flying dunk, making it 69-48 ... Stover, who lost in last year's D-5 finals as a member for Renaissance, and Morris embrace is a hearty hug after coming out with 1:22 remaining. ... Morris has 25, Saunders 21 and Stover 14. ... Whitefield leads St. Joseph with 13, Lippi 12 and D'Angelo Hutton 11. Final score: Windward 69, St. Joseph 53.
Third quarter: Just more of the same... Saunders opens with a dunk and Washington goes for a fastbreak lay-up. ... Another two free throws and dunk by Saunders helps Windward to its biggest lead, 48-28. ... St. Joseph just refuses to go away. The Pilots have not wavered or shown fear any stretch despite being out-manned. ... They go on 10-2 run to end the quarter finished off with a 3-pointer by Dominic Lippi, cutting it to 50-38 heading into the fourth. ... Windward 50, St. Joseph 38.
Second quarter: This Morris kid, a 6-4 point guard, looks ready for the tournament. Not this tournament, the NCAA tournament. He’s driving around the Pilots with ease. … A 3-pointer by Kwame Firepwong gives Windward a 26-11 lead. … St. Joseph has a 6-9 sophomore in Brendan Keane, who is hanging tough…. The best sophomore on the court, and there’s a lot of sophomores, is Saunders. … The Pilots hang tough but after a 3-pointer by Whitfield but Windward finishes off with six straight, capped by baseline move and layup from Saunders. … Stover, who has shown more offensive skills than we’ve seen him display the last two seasons, has 10 points, Saunders 9 and Morris 8. … Windward is shooting 60 percent (15 of 25), is dominant on the boards (21-8) and leads: Windward 34, St. Joseph 16.
First quarter: It takes 3:53 – actually less – to figure out who is superior here. … Stover, the long-limbed 6-10 post going to UCLA, opens with a fastbreak layup, Michigan-bound Morris goes coast-to-coast and also scores a layup on a pretty feed from impressive 6-5 sophomore Wesley Saunders, who also scores on a fastbreak hoop and Washington, who is obviously more than the kid of a famous movie star, drives for another hoop. Windward is off the races, up 10-0. … By the way, Stover who looks like he can touch the top of the backboard, has three blocks in the first five minutes. … There’s nothing not to like about St. Joseph coach Don Lippi or his Ozei Evans. … Windard closes with nine straight, capped by a dunk from Stover on a follow shot. … These guys are Division V? … Windward 19, St. Joseph 6.
Pregame: Nice turnout for a 1:30 Friday game. St. Joseph brought about 1,500 fans clad in bright blue and orange. … The Pilots brought three rooter buses for the 90-minute drive. … The most noteworthy fan is on the Windward side. Denzel Washington, son of Windward senior, is sitting four rows back of press row. … No body guards, but flanked by some interested Windward parents. …Denzel is wearing black Nike nylon sweat suit, a black cap and his chomping gum like chewing gum is going out of business … National anthem is the longest, but most inspiring version we’ve heard here in 10 years. …Kudos to Mia Bernardino.