NIKE EXTRAVAGANZA XIII
At Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, Calif.)
# State rankings according to MaxPreps.com
Friday, Feb. 1 (Girls)
4:30 p.m. Ocean View (Huntington Beach) 16-7 vs. La Quinta (Westminster) 10-9
6 p.m., #7 Santa Margarita (Rancho Margarita) 20-4 vs. #5 Durango (Las Vegas) 22-3
7:30 p.m., #25 Foothill (Santa Ana) 19-5 vs. #11 Brea-Olinda (Brea) 20-3
9 p.m., #5 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 20-3 vs. #23 Mira Costa (19-4)
Saturday, Feb. 2 (Boys)
8:30 a.m., Servite (Anaheim) 13-10 vs. Ocean View (Huntington Beach) 13-6
10 a.m., Gahr (Cerritos) 16-9 vs. Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach) 18-6
11:30 a.m., Los Alamitos 18-5 vs. Canyon (Anaheim) 18-4
1 p.m., JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 14-9 vs. Colony (Ontario) 15-8
2:30 p.m., Lutheran (Orange) 13-10 vs. Brea-Olinda (Brea) 15-6
4:30 p.m., #2 Dominguez (Compton) 18-2 vs. #5 Santa Margarita (Rancho Margarita) 21-3
6 p.m., #7 Westchester (Los Angeles) 21-3 vs. #12 De La Salle (Concord) 18-2
7:30 p.m., #3 St. Patrick (St. Elizabeth, N.J.) 16-2 vs. #8 Fairfax (Los Angeles) 18-3
9 p.m., #1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 24-0 vs. #4 Farragut (Chicago) 15-3
By Mitch Stephens
SANTA ANA, Calif. — It’s not about right coast versus left coast, St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) boys basketball coach Kevin Boyle said.
It’s about: A, Getting better; B, Being prepared for the state tournament; C, Seeing someone new.
Needless to say, Fairfax (Los Angeles) will offer the Celtics all of the above and then some in Saturday’s Nike Extravaganza XIII at Mater Dei High School.
The “then some” is the nation’s No. 1 junior recruit, long and skilled 6-foot-10, 245-pound Renardo Sidney, already projected a 2011 NBA lottery pick. Sidney is averaging a gaudy 24.5 points and 14.6 rebounds per game.
Though impressed with Sidney’s length and skill set — he’s been compared to a young Chris Webber — Boyle or the Celtics aren’t nearly conceding anything. They have won three straight New Jersey Parochial B state crowns and two of New Jersey’s last three Tournament of Champion titles.
Maybe even more impressive, Boyle’s teams have recorded nine straight wins over national and New Jersey powers St. Anthony (Jersey City) and St. Benedict’s (Newark), coached by the legendary Hurleys, father Bob and son Dan, respectively. St. Anthony and St. Benedict’s are currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in the country.
Even though the Celtics lost two premier players to graduation in June, Corey Fisher (Villanova) and Jeff Robinson (Memphis), they are off to a 16-2 start with their two losses coming by a total of nine points to Yates (Houston, Texas) and Rice (New York), teams with a combined 34-4 record.
They feature two of the state’s finest players, North Carolina-bound Dexter Strickland, a 6-3 junior guard, and Kansas-bound Quintrell Thomas, a 6-7, 230-pound senior load who figures to go right at Sidney. Like the Celtics themselves, don’t expect Thomas to sit back and admire Sidney’s vast game.
“We’ve seen (Sidney) on film and he’s obviously talented, long and skilled,” said Boyle, in his 20th season. “But we’ll give him a good battle. (Thomas) is a big strong kid who loves to attack the rim. Maybe we can get (Sidney) in foul trouble.”
St. Patrick already has some history with Fairfax, defeating the Lions 63-60 in last year’s Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Fairfax, coached by Harvey Kitani, didn’t have Sidney, who transferred to the Lions from 2007 state Division III champion Artesia (Lakewood).
It was the second straight victory for the Celtics over a California power after they crushed Brandon Jennings-led Dominguez (Compton) 84-56 in the 2006 Nike Extravaganza VI. The only other time St. Patrick played in the showcase was 1998, when with Al Harrington it was stunned by host Mater Dei.
So the Celtics do have some history with California squads. They face an 18-3 Fairfax team that is ranked 24th nationally and also features 6-3 senior guard Chris Solomon (17.2 ppg) and 6-6 forward Solomon Hill (10.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg). Two of Fairfax’s losses come to teams playing in the 4:30 p.m. game, Dominguez against Santa Margarita (Rancho Margarita).
St. Patrick is ranked No. 40 by MaxPreps but No. USA Today has it No. 10.
“This isn’t a west coast-east coast thing,” Boyle said. “Yes, it’s nice for the guys to get some exposure other places and to see new things. That’s a huge positive. We’re just happy to be playing a great team.”
Though Boyle wouldn’t bite on the state comparison, he did say what sets New Jersey apart is its attention to defense. He noted that the Hurleys greatly emphasize the defensive end as, of course, does his squads. The Celtics are allowing 51.3 points per game and the last two seasons they were at 54.8 and 52.4 per contest.
During that stretch the team was 74-8.
“I think (New Jersey) plays some very tough D," Boyle said. “That really helps us match up when we go out of state.”
A big help for the Celtics this year was the addition of Michael Gilchrist, a 6-7 freshman phenom with a ridiculous 83-inch wingspan. He’s not only projected to be a 7-footer — Gilchrist just turned 14 — but like Sidney folks are already projecting him in the top ranks.
Spencer Pulliam, founder and publisher of the Generation Next Basketball recruiting service, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Based on watching high major-(college) players and NBA kids, (Gilchrist) fits the same profile as O.J. Mayo, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. He has everything you want in a prospect.”
Though such projections are unfair, Boyle admits that if Gilchrist continues on his path, “he’ll be the finest player to ever come out of St. Patrick.”
Considering Harrington and Samuel Dalembert (Philadelphia 76ers) are already proven NBA commodities, that’s saying something.
Boyle has tried to keep the pressure off Gilchrist by not starting him.
“We’ve brought him along slowly,” Boyle said. “Lately, though he’s been a stat machine. In the last 10 games he’s averaged about 12 points and six rebounds and he only plays about half the game.”
With more talent like 6-6 junior Paris Bennett, who already has offers from Temple, La Salle, Rutgers and St. Josephs, and 5-10 senior point guard Jermel Jenkins, Gilchrist certainly doesn’t need to rush his game.
The Celtics, though young, appear to be rounding into form. They better be. After Saturday’s game they get Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and St. Augustine Prep (Richland, N.J.).
“I suppose considering what we lost (to graduation) it’s a little surprising to be 15-2,” Boyle said. “Quite honestly, we’re just a couple shots from being 17-0. I think we’re at the point where the kids come to St. Patrick and simply expect to step up and get it done. They have a reputation to uphold.”
OTHER KEY BOYS MATCHUPS
Dominguez (Compton) 18-2 vs. Santa Margarita (Rancho Margarita) 21-3: The first evening session matchup pits a Dominguez team, ranked sixth nationally and winners of two prestigious tournaments, the Amare Stoudamire Classic in Florida and the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Torrey Pines, and No. 17 Santa Margarita, which has lost once to Jrue Holiday-led and defending state champion Campbell Hall (West Hollywood) and twice to undefeated and third-ranked (nationally) Mater Dei. Dominguez, a deep quick squad, features one of the nation’s top juniors in Jordan Hamilton (6-7) while Santa Margarita counters with Klay Thompson (6-7), son of former NBA standout Michael Thompson, and UCSB-bound Jaime Serna (6-7, 220 pounds).
Westchester (Los Angeles) 21-3 vs. De La Salle (Concord) 18-2: The high-scoring Comets average 72.7 points a game while the always defensive-minded Spartans give up just 39.1. Westchester is led by 6-2 senior guard Jarred Dubois (6-2), who has signed to SMU, while the balanced Spartans feature the potent backcourt of Jose Rivera (6-3), a senior and junior point guard Brandon Smith (5-11).
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 24-0 vs. #4 Farragut (Chicago) 15-3: The host team hasn’t played the national schedule it normally does and no longer features one of the state’s all-time leading scorers Taylor King (now at Duke). But this might be one of coach Gary McKnight’s best overall squads based on balance and the Wear twins, David and Travis, a pair of 6-9 juniors who have already committed to North Carolina. Farragut is far removed from alum Kevin Garnett, but it features Michael Dunigan, a 6-9, 230-pound stud headed to Oregon.
Santa Margarita (Rancho Margarita) 20-4 vs. Durango (Las Vegas) 22-3: One of the state’s top sophomores, 5-8 guard Melissa Zornig (20.8 ppg, 45 three-pointers) leads Santa Margarita, which has won 11 of 13. The Eagles look to rebound from a tough 56-52 loss to Serra on Thursday. Zornig will have her hands full with Durango 5-9 senior Lindy La Rocque who is one of the country’s top scorers at 28.3 points per game. The Stanford-bound star, once given a tutorial by Kobe Bryant, has made a remarkable 111 three-point tries in 296 attempts, a sizzling 38 percent, and last year she averaged 24.5 points, 8.1 assists and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Foothill (Santa Ana) 19-5 vs. Brea-Olinda (Brea) 20-3: With a state-record eight state titles, Brea-Olinda are the queens of California basketball. The Wildcats, who lost in last year’s state title game to Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), replaced McDonald’s All-American Jeanette Pohlen (now at Stanford) with one of the nation’s top freshman, Justine Hartman, a 6-2 post averaging 18.0 points per game and eight rebounds. Kelsey Harris, a 5-10 guard, is one of the state’s top sophomores. Foothill is led by one of the state’s best juniors, 6-1 junior Christina Marinacci (21.5 points, 11.6 rebounds per game), who has been compared to former Foothill and WNBA standout Kristen Mann.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 21-3 vs. #23 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 19-4: A pair of extra talented freshmen lead the Monarchs in 6-foot guard Kaleena Lewis (15.6 points per game) and 6-1 forward Alexyz Vaioletama (11.6 ppg). Mira Costa is led by the lethal one-two punch of 5-11 senior Megan Richardson (18.3 ppg) and 6-1 senior forward Mikah Maly-Karros (17.2 ppg, 15.8 rpg).
Boyle is quite familiar with the legacy of De La Salle coach Frank Allocco, a New Jersey native who has led De La Salle to two state titles and Northgate (Walnut Creek) to another. “The guy should be a college coach,” Boyle said. “He’s that good. He runs that Princeton offense to perfection. He should coach at Princeton.” … Other top male players include Mater Dei junior Andy Brown (6-8), Ocean View sophomore Anthony Brown (6-5), Mater Dei sophomore Gary Franklin (6-1), Serra senior Chris Gabriel (6-9, New Mexico State signee), Brea Olinda senior Kyle Fogg (6-2), Colony sophomore Tyler Lamb (6-5), Serra junior Demetrius Walker (6-4), Gahr senior Caspar Ware (5-8, Long Beach State signee). … Orange Lutheran should be a force in the future with freshman starters Ronnie Stevens (6-8) and James Douglas (6-1). … General admission for the girls session is $10; boys morning session general admission is $12 and the evening session is $12 (general admission) and $22 (reserved seating). More information on is at 714-754-7711.
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com.