SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
Three boys basketball teams will attempt to repeat as champions in the 2012 CIF State Basketball Championships at Power Balance Pavilion.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
(Division I), Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
(Division II) and St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda)
(Division V) are back to defend titles and each faces a program making its first state-title appearance.
In fact, four of the five boys games feature schools with considerable state-game experience against first-timers to the big dance.
Mater Dei is No. 6 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard
and Salesian (Richmond)
, going after a Division IV crown, is No. 24.
After the South captured three of the five games last year, it owns a 91-47 edge all-time in state title games going back to 1981. The South still owns big edges in Division I (24-7), II (22-8) and IV (18-6) and a slight edge in Division III (16-13).
The North has won 13 of 24 Division V title games.
Here is a capsule look at all five divisions:
DIVISION I, 8 p.m. Saturday
Mater Dei-Santa Ana (33-2) vs. Sheldon (Sacramento) (29-5)WIN STREAKS:
Mater Dei 20, Sheldon 11.STATE RECORD:
Mater Dei 8-4, Sheldon 0-0. TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Mater Dei – G Katin Reinhardt
, F Xavier Johnson
, F Stanley Johnson
. Sheldon – G D'erryl Williams
, G Dakarai Allen
, F Kyi Thomas
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Mater Dei 77.3 (54.1), Sheldon 65.6 (53.9).GAME ON:
This is a classic showdown of one team penciled months ago – actually a season ago – and the other few had on the radar. In fact, Sheldon is the first Sac-Joaquin Section team to reach the Division I state title game since 1994 when Jesuit-Carmichael made it for a second-straight season.
Those were the only two years a SJS team has reached the large-school game and both years Jesuit came up short in the finals. Sheldon is indeed after some history.
The Huskies have defied most odds after graduating two Division I players last season. Most thought this junior-dominated team was a season away but featuring tough-minded, athletic and unselfish players, they have reached the pinnacle game.
All of those traits were displayed most of all during their 61-56 win over Jesuit in the regional final Saturday at Power Balance. The Huskies, minus their third-leading scorer (Armani Hampton
) with a knee injury, fought back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Marauders for a fourth-straight time.
Williams, who dislocated his pinkie on his non-shooting hand the previous week, willed his team back with 23 points, while Allen had 16 points and Thomas 10. Jesuit, coming off a win over nationally ranked De La Salle-Concord, was playing its best basketball of the season but Sheldon found a way.
"Everyone said we were too young to get this done," Sheldon coach Jerry Rollings said. "But besides being very talented, we have a ton of heart. They're all warriors."
They'll need to play like the NBA Warriors to compete with the defending champion Monarchs from Mater Dei.
Led by the state's winningest coach Gary McKnight (925-93), Mater Dei is truly a beautiful team to watch with versatile, skilled, balanced and explosive players.
The Monarchs don't possess a true post player, but instead all five starters, between 6-foot-3 and 6-7, crash the boards and help defensively on bigger players. All have guard skills and all can shoot. And they share the ball.
The best shooter is UNLV-bound Reinhardt, a 6-5 guard who can play point, but with 6-3 Eli Stalzer
at that spot he doesn't need to. Xavier Johnson, a slashing 6-7 forward, has signed to Colorado and Stanley Johnson, a 6-7 wing, is one of the top sophomores in the state. Another name of note is junior sixth man Elijah Brown
, son of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown.
The team is 10 deep with terrific talent coming off the bench.
Mater Dei has proven it can play any style, winning last year's title game over De La Salle in slow-down mode, 43-36. Sheldon likely won't play that style. Predicted winner:
If Sheldon had Hampton, perhaps an upset in works. Mater Dei just has too much of everything. MATER DEI. DIVISION II, 8 p.m. Friday
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) (35-2) vs. Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (30-3)WIN STREAKS:
La Costa Canyon 19, Mitty 19.STATE RECORD:
La Costa Canyon 0-0, Mitty 1-2.TERRIFIC TRIOS:
La Costa Canyon - F Matt Shrigley
, G David Travers
, W Jeff Van Dyke
. Mitty – C Aaron Gordon
, F Thomas Peters
, F Neil Vranicar
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
La Costa Canyon 66.4 (53.5), Mitty 64.5 (52.0). GAME ON:
Much like Division I, most had at least one team locked into the Division II game – defending champion Archbishop Mitty.
The Monarchs, yes also the Monarchs, figured to get back largely because of their 6-7 post in the middle Gordon, who is considered one of the Top 10 juniors in the country.
He jumps center and plays in the low block, but he also brings the ball up court at times, attacks from the wing and just about any place coach Tim Kennedy needs him.
"Even with all his skills, Aaron's best trait is his motor and will to win," Kennedy said. "He'll do whatever it takes."
The younger brother of University of New Mexico standout Drew Gordon, Aaron Gordon averaged better than 26 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks per game for most of the season. Over the last month – especially in the postseason – his scoring has gone down in order to spread the wealth.
That has made Mitty much tougher to defend and beat.
Peters and Vranicar are both long – 6-6 – and skilled, and the forward duo combined for 29 in Saturday's regional final against Newark Memorial. Point guard Jack Biebel
, off guard Jordan White
and shooting guard Connor Peterson
have also been double-digit scorers throughout the season.
"We know Aaron can do it all, but we don't want him to have to," Vranicar said. "We all have to do our part."
La Costa Canyon coach Dave Cassaw knew his Mavericks would be good this season, so good he took advantage to watch some of the state's best Division II teams in December at the Holiday Prep Classic. One of the teams he took careful notes about was Mitty.
Now the Mavericks, a veteran team, will put that information to good use. The program that produced Houston Rockets starter Chase Budinger is led by San Diego State recruit Shrigley, a 6-6 forward who averages 16.7 points a game and owns a deadly 3-point shot, and David Travers, an athletic guard who loves to attack the belly of his opponents. He's signed to Georgia State.
What has allowed LCC to advance into its first state-title game has been solid defense and having the supporting cast of Van Dyke, Zach Beery
and either post player Erick Magnuson
, who is headed to Michigan for football, or rangy junior Kyle Sachrison
, stepping up big when needed.
Such was the case in the 47-43 win over Lincoln-San Diego in the regional final when the team's top three scorers had trouble filling the bucket. Beery and Magnuson responded with a combined 26 points. Travers made the key shot late.
"This just shows we're a complete team," Cassaw told Steve Brand of the San Diego Union-Tribune afterward. Predicted winner:
This will be fourth time Mitty has played at Power Balance in two seasons. That's a big edge early. So much points to La Costa Canyon, but Gordon is the X-factor. MITTY
DIVISION III, 2:45 p.m. Saturday
Alemany (Mission Hills) (32-4) vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) (28-5)WIN STREAKS:
Alemany 9. Sacred Heart Cathedral 6.STATE RECORD:
Alemany 0-0, Sacred Heart Cathedral 1-1.TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Alemany - G Max Guercy
, G Marqueze Coleman
, F Bear Henderson
. Sacred Heart Cathedral – F Joshua Fox
, F Taylor Johns
, G Tyler Petroni
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Alemany 75.1 (61.2), Sacred Heart Cathedral 62.8 (48.1).GAME ON:
This one appears to come down to pace.
Alemany, with quickness and big scorers, will want to speed it up. Sacred Heart Cathedral is also quick, but eventually likes to get the ball to its two 6-5 front-liners Fox and Johns.
The Irish won't be walking the ball up. But they won't be in a hurry either.
Alemany, with talents like 6-4 Nevada-bound Coleman (21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds per game), 5-9 Guercy (18.3 ppg, 5 assists per game), 6-5 Bear Henderson (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and 6-foot shooting guard Jerico Richardson
(9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), definitely likes to get out and run. Guercy and Henderson will play Division I basketball in college while Richardson is headed to UCLA to play football.
The Warriors have won 11 games scoring at least 80 points. They defeated St. John Bosco in the regional final 62-61 on a reverse layup with 1.5 seconds left in the game by KJ Moffett
, his only bucket of the game.
Coleman led Alemany with 24 points and six steals. The Warriors held of a furious rally by Bosco, which fought back from an 18-point second-half deficit.
Sacred Heart Cathedral had an equally tough game, fighting back from a 13-point first-quarter deficit to win over two-time defending North region champion Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland. Like Alemany, an unsung hero came to the rescue as Tyler Petroni dug out a loose ball and fed Fox for a dunk in the final 30 seconds.
"We do what we need to do," Petroni said.
The Irish are battle-tested out of the West Catholic Athletic League, where they lost three very tight games to defending Division II state champion Mitty.
Besides Fox and Johns, who combined for 36 points and 23 rebounds against Bishop O'Dowd, the Irish depend on the shooting of Petroni, Herman Pratt
and Khalil James
Fox is the only Sacred Heart Cathedral player back from the 2009 team that won the state title. This is Alemany's first state appearance. Predicted winner:
On paper, Alemany has so much more, but Sacred Heart Cathedral is such a magical team. For no concrete reason, we're going with paper. ALEMANY
DIVISION IV, 1:30 p.m. Friday
Price (Los Angeles) (26-8) vs. Salesian (Richmond) (33-2)WIN STREAKS:
Price 4, Salesian 26.STATE RECORD:
Price 6-1, Salesian 1-1.TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Price – F Skylar Spencer
, G Khalil Johnson, G Chance Murray
. Salesian – F Jabari Bird
, G Mario Dunn
, F Jermaine Edmonds
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Price 72 (59.6). Salesian 69.6 (42.6). GAME ON:
Some have tabbed this as the best, if not most entertaining, game of the two-day event.
That's because both teams are athletic, experienced and play well above the rim.
Price is coming off a wild 73-66 win over top-seed Serra-Gardena in the South regional final, while Salesian had a much easier time of it, handing Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton a thorough 69-38 defeat.
With star 6-8 and San Diego State-bound Spencer limited with foul trouble, Price's Johnson more than picked up the slack with a game-high 26 points and he pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. He made 8-of-14 shots.
Spencer was effective while in there with 15 points and six rebounds, while Quan Green had 14 and Trey Dickerson 12 for Price, which jumped out of the games taking leads of 16-10 and 39-30 after the first two quarters. Beyond Spencer, Johnson, Murray and Dickerson are all be recruited by Division I schools.
Price has been a regular for years at the state-title game with seven previous appearances and six victories.
Salesian has been a regular of late, with this its third appearance in four years. After winning in 2009 on a buzzer beater by Kendall Andrews, the Pride lost a bitter 63-57 state finals to Windward-Los Angeles.
One of the nation's top juniors, Jabari Bird had a game-high 23 points in that game, and is by far Salesian's leading scorer this year at almost 20 per game. Bird, a 6-5 wing, had 24 in the win over Sacred Heart Prep.
The Pride is hard to defend however, because of so many weapons from so many spots. The team's most exciting player is Dunn, a 6-foot blur of a point guard who is getting a lot of Division I looks, along with under-rated 6-4 Edwards who can score either from the outside or inside.
The team also features 6-7, 300-pound post Freddie Tagaloa
, a four-year player who is one of the top 100 football players in the country. He's signed a football scholarship to Cal.
Bird averages 18.5 per game but no one else averages in double figures. Five others average at least six. Predicted winner:
Might not get the prediction right, but would be this first game of the two-day set will be the most entertaining. Another agonizing, tight game but just too much offensive rebounding by Price will do in Salesian. PRICE
. DIVISION V, 11:15 a.m. SaturdayVillage Christian (Sun Valley) (32-3) vs. St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda (29-4)
WIN STREAKS: Village Christian 4, St. Joseph 6.
STATE RECORD: Village Christian 0-0, St. Joseph 4-3.
TERRIFIC TRIOS: Village Christian – G Bryan Alberts
, F Marsalis Johnson
, F Marquis Salmon
. St. Joseph – F Temidayo Yussef
, G Gemeny Givens
, G Nick Lacy
POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED): Village Christian 68.1 (47.5), St. Joseph 61.6 (42.9).
GAME ON: Here's another vastly experienced program, defending champion St. Joseph, making its eighth state title-game appearance, against first-timer Village Christian.
Don't be fooled by that fact however, said St. Joseph coach Don Lippi.
All but three of his players – one starter - graduated off last year's squad that pulled out a 47-44 win over St. Bernard-Playa del Rey. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
"Well, I don't really believe in rebuilding years," said Lippi, who ranks third in active California coaches with 701 wins. "It's not really fair to the incoming seniors on the team."
The only senior who is starting is point guard Givens (5-11), who started at off-guard last season. He's improved immensely and had a team-high 17 points in the team's impressive 77-53 regional final win over Pinewood-Los Altos Hills.
The other senior is 5-10 guard Nick Lacy, who had 16 in that game. The rest of the Pilots are extremely young, led by 6-6 sophomore Yussef, the team's leading scorer who grew three inches in the summer and even more as a player. "He has a good chance to be a Division I (college) player," Lippi said.
Freshman Lamont Banks
(6-3, 215) and defensive stopper Justin Brown
(6-1, 195) give St. Joseph more beef and athleticism.
They'll need that and more against an extremely tall and talented Village Christian team, which turned the tables to beat renaissance Academy 58-57 in the regional final. Though 6-7 Salmon had team highs of 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, it was 6-5 Alberts (13 points) who made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to break a 55-55 tie.
Another 6-7 forward Johnson had 13 points and averages 15.4 on the year. Alberts lead that team at 18.6 per game and Salmon is third at 13.0. Alberts and Johnson are sure-fire Division I prospects.
Not only did Village Christian surprise Renaissance, but also it eliminated the team everyone had penciled in to get back to the state-title game St. Bernard 75-65 in the regional semifinal.Predicted winner:
The length of Village Christian plus utter talent of Alberts and Johnson will do in St. Joseph. VILLAGE CHRISTIAN.