SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
The six 2013 girls CIF Championship basketball games feature plenty of everything.
The Open Division final pitting Windward-Los Angeles and Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland features two of the top three teams in the country.
That's as it should be.
In Division I, two veteran public national powers go at it. Long Beach Poly and Berkeley have appeared in a combined 16 state finals.
Three divisions (II, III and V) feature state veteran programs going against relative first-timers. And in Division IV, Salesian-Richmond and Serra-Gardena have combined to make only one state-finals game.
With three wins last season, Northern California increased its overall lead against Southern California to 74-68 in state-final contests.
Northern California has a large lead in Division V (20-5) and slim leads in Divisions II (16-15) and IV (14-11), while Southern California has a large lead in Division I (22-9). Division III is knotted at 15-15. OPEN DIVISION, 8 p.m. Saturday Windward (Los Angeles) (32-0) vs. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) (29-3)WIN STREAKS:
Windward 32, Bishop O'Dowd 23 STATE RECORD:
Windward 1-1, Bishop O'Dowd 1-1 STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Windward No. 1, Bishop O'Dowd No. 2 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Windward – G Jordin Canada
, G Courtney Jaco
, C Kristen Simon
. Bishop O'Dowd — C Oderah Chidom
, F K.C. Waters
, G Ariell Bostick
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Windward 67.8 (37.5), Bishop O'Dowd 64.9 (36.1).
The first Open Division girls final couldn't get much better, as Windward is No. 2 in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings and Bishop O'Dowd is No. 3.
The teams faced off earlier, with Windward posting a decisive 58-43 victoriy in the finals of the Oaks Christian Tournament on Dec. 29. Canada, considered the top junior point guard in the country, had 25 points in that game and made a halfcourt shot at the first-half buzzer to give her team a 32-16 lead.
Jaco, an absolute sharp shooter, had 18 while Bostick, a San Diego State signee, led O'Dowd with 17 points.
Bishop O'Dowd was on the seventh game of a 10-day road trip and though the Dragons didn't use it as an excuse, coach Malik McCord said it was one of the team's two poorest performances since he's coached the varsity squad in the last four years.
The defending Division III state champions have not lost since that defeat, going 23-0 while winning by an average margin of better than 30 points.
McCord knows it will take a considerably better showing to play with Windward, which doesn't beat itself with Canada running the point.
"She's a lot like Jason Kidd — she just pulls everybody up," McCord said. "She's a monster. (Jaco) doesn't miss shots and (Simon) has just got better and better."
Windward had to play flawlessly to knock off another Top 10 national team and two-time defending Division I state champion Mater Dei-Santa Ana, 81-71 in last week's regional final
Canada had 17 points and 14 assists in that game and the USC-bound Jaco drilled six 3-pointers and now has 142 on the season en route to a 26-point performance. Simon added 14 points and 17 rebounds, and Macchiati Smith
made seven of 10 shots and had 16 points.
"Mater Dei is a great program with a great legacy, but our girls weren't intimidated," first-year coach Vanessa Nygaard told reporters after the game. "We were focused on what we were going to do."
Of Canada, Nygaard said: "Jordan is the only high school player I would pay to see." And of Simon, a 6-1 post: "No high school girl can guard her. She has the body of a 26-year-old woman."
O'Dowd will give it a go. The Dragons have three front liners all taller than Simon and all headed for Division I programs, including McDonald's 6-4 All-American Chidom, who has signed with Duke.
She's joined on the front line by 6-4 Breanna Brown
(Virginia Tech) and 6-2 Waters (Cal). Two dynamic sophomores, Asha Thomas
and Aisia Robertson
, join Bostick in the back court to contend with Canada and Jaco.
"All the girls have improved and grown but we haven't played our best game yet," McCord said. "This is more than a redemption game. We just want to give them our best."DIVISION I, 6 p.m. FridayLong Beach Poly (29-5) vs. Berkeley (22-11)
Long Beach Poly 4, Berkeley 7 STATE RECORD:
Long Beach Poly 4-1, Berkeley 2-9 STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Long Beach Poly No. 5, Berkeley No. 40 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Long Beach Poly – G Arica Carter
, G Keyla Morgan
, G Tania Lamb
. Berkeley — F Rachel Howard
, F Desire Finnie
, G Gariana Youngblood POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Long Beach Poly 65 (32.8), Berkeley 54.9 (51.8)
Most seasons, this would be no surprise. But both teams, short on experience and height, weren't expected to get this far.
Long Beach Poly, after an upset loss to Etiwanda in the Southern Section playoffs, was seeded ninth at regionals. Berkeley, beat soundly in a North Coast Section semifinal game by Heritage-Brentwood, was seeded 12th in its regional.
Poly exacted revenge against Etiwanda (57-51) in the second round of the regionals before breezing to two lopsided wins, including a 63-40 triumph over Canyon Springs in the finals.
Kansas-bound Morgan and Tania Lamb (team high 16 points) led an early 25-8 run that put it away. Jada Matthews added 10 points. As usual, for the season, the Jackrabbits under Carl Buggs have shown great depth and balance. Carter, a junior, is the only player scoring in double figures at 11 per game. Morgan is at 9.3, Matthews 8.3 and Lamb 7.7. Six others average more than 3.7.
It all adds up.
Berkeley responded from its disappointing loss to Heritage with three straight road wins before an impressive 56-45 regional final win over 2010 state champion Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills at Sleep Train. USF-bound Howard, a 5-10 senior, had 23 points and nine rebounds.
Finnie, a 5-10 junior, added 14 points and eight rebounds as the Yellowjackets fell behind 8-0 before going on an 18-1 run. They were never really threatened after that.
"Ecstatic," Berkeley coach Cheryl Draper said about winning Berkeley's 12th NorCal title. "Many didn't believe we'd win five games this season. But hard work paved the way. I'm overwhelmed."
The Yellowjackets definitely have a score to settle with Poly, which defeated Berkeley three consecutive years in the D-I state finals starting in 2006. DIVISION II, 2 p.m. SaturdayLynwood (28-5) vs. St. Francis (Mountain View) (24-8)
Lynbrook 23, St. Francis 4 STATE RECORD:
Lynbrook 3-1, St. Francis 0-0
STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Lynwood No. 11, St. Francis No. 32 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Lynwood – G Priscilla Lopez
, G Alize Lofton
, C Amber Blockmon
. St. Francis — F Jennifer Lucian
, G Shelbi Aimonetti
, C Kate Hoey.
POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Lynwood 57.4 (34.8), St. Francis 46.5 (36.6).
This is a tremendous matchup of a renowned program and coach versus another renowned coach.
Lynwood won Division I state titles in 1993, 2002 and 2003 under coach Ellis Barfield and for the first time qualifies in Division II following a 60-42 win over Ridgeview-Bakersfield in the Southern regional final.
According to CalHiPreps.com writer and girls basketball expert Harold Abend, Lynwood used its superior size and speed to race to a 36-14 halftime lead and coasted from there. Lofton, a 6-foot senior headed to CSU Bakersfield, had 16 points, nine blocks, seven assists and four steals. Northridge-bound 6-2 post Blockmon had 15 points and 10 rebounds and junior guard Lopez added 15 points.
The win avenged a 43-41 loss to Ridgeview earlier in the year.
"Going back to Sacramento is a great feel for me," Barfield told Abend. "But I want the kids to feel it. It's the payoff. Now we're not just playing for ourselves, but for our school, our families and the community."
St. Francis is making its first state appearance behind second-year Lancers' coach Brian Harrigan, who led Sacred Heart Cathedral to four state titles, including 2008 when he was named National Coach of the Year by several publications.
That team finished 33-0 and won a mythical national championship.
This St. Francis squad is built largely on grit and defense and actually finished third in the vaunted West Catholic Athletic League behind Sacred Heart Cathedral (in the D-III title game) and Archbishop Mitty, which was eliminated in the NorCal Open Division.
The Lancers showed their defensive prowess by allowing just 19 points in a 44-19 regional final win over Lynbrook-San Jose. It was a NorCal regional final low for any division.
St. Francis got 15 points from Aimonetti, including three 3-pointers, and 12 points from Lucian and six points and 11 rebounds by Hoey.
"I couldn't be any prouder of a group of girls," Harrigan said after the regional final win. "They bought into our system and we've hung our hat on the defensive end. The 27 points in a half might be a season best. They picked the right time to do it."DIVISION III, 2 p.m. FridayAlemany (Mission Hills) (31-5) vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) (25-6)
Alemany 15, Sacred Heart Cathedral 5 STATE RECORD:
Alemany 0-1, Sacred Heart Cathedral 4-2 STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Alemany No. 12, Sacred Heart Cathedral No. 20 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Alemany – G Leslie Lopez-Wood
, C Hannah Johnson
, F Adaora Obi
. Sacred Heart Cathedral — Ge'anna Summers-luaulu
, G Briannah Smith
, C Ashanti Coleman
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Alemany 63.1 (44.3), Sacred Heart Cathedral 56.6 (43.2).
Alemany has a score to settle, albeit one from a long time ago.
The Warriors' only appearance in a state title game was in 1998 when they lost to the Harrigan-led Sacred Heart Cathedral Irish 48-38.
Alemany is the favorite this time with its 15-game winning streak and the strong play of Lopez-Wood and Johnson, who each scored 15 points in a 60-47 win over Chaminade-West Hills in the regional final.
Johnson, a 6-1 junior, also had nine rebounds while Lopez-Wood drilled three 3-pointers. The Warriors' pressure defense forced 24 turnovers and guarded the perimeter superbly as Chaminade made just 3-of-20 3-pointers.
More vital, the Warriors held UC Santa Barbara-bound M'Chael Wright scoreless.
Defense is Sacred Heart Cathedral's forte, as it showed in a 46-28 win over St. Ignatius in the regional finals. The Irish, under first-year coach LyRyan Russell, limited St. Ignatius to 17 percent shooting (10 of 59) and got 12 points from Kairee Howard, 11 by Smith and 10 by 6-foot sophomore Coleman.
The team's top player and scorer Summers-Luaulu was limited to just six points, but she had a team-high nine rebounds.
Nobody averages more than 12 points per game and the Irish go 10 players deep.
Russell set the bar very high even though last year's SHC team was 15-15. The Irish have hit every goal, with league, section and regional titles. That seemed a stretch since Harrigan left in 2009, as the team hadn't won more than 17 games in any season.
"We're not just preparing for Friday," Russell said. "We won't be satisfied unless we win it." DIVISION IV, 10 a.m. SaturdaySerra (Gardena) (29-5) vs. Salesian (Richmond) (29-6)
Serra 3, Salesian 3 STATE RECORD:
Serra 0-0, Salesian 0-1 STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Serra 10, Salesian 27 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Serra – G Siera Thompson
, G Deandrea Toler
, C Caila Hailey
. Salesian — F Mariya Moore
, G Kian McNair
, F Alana Horton
. POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Serra 64.3 (45.7), Salesian 63.1 (40.6).
Don't be fooled by the combined 11 losses in this one. These teams have lost to almost exclusively elite teams.
Serra has lost twice to the nation's No. 2 team Windward, once to South Regional D-II finalist Ridgeview-Bakersfield and to Southern Section D-I finalist Etiwanda.
Salesian lost three times to St. Mary's-Berkeley, and once each to St. Mary's-Stockton and Miramonte-Orinda, all teams in the North Region Open Division. The Pride also had a win over St. Mary's-Berkeley.
They are led by one of the nation's top juniors in 5-11 do-everything standout Moore, who recorded a triple double with 29 points, 16 rebounds and 13 steals in a NorCal semifinal win over Menlo School-Atherton.
She averages 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 4 steals per game.
Three other players often score in double figures — 6-4 junior Zoe Correal (9.5 ppg), 5-5 sophomore Kian McNair (8.2) and 6-1 junior Deja Stallworth (8.1).
Serra is led by a pair of Division I standouts, in 5-7 Michigan-bound guard Thompson, who had 24 points in a 63-54 regional final win over St. Bernard-Playa del Rey, and Oregon commit Toler, a 5-6 senior who had 12 points in the win.
Another college-bound standout, Seattle signee 6-3 post Tatiana Howard, contributed eight points and 13 rebounds in the game. Hailey, a 5-9 junior, averages 12.2 points per game, while Thompson averages 17.9 and Toler 13.8. Thompson has made 83 3-pointers this season. DIVISION V, 10 a.m. FridaySierra Canyon (Chatsworth) (23-9) vs. Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) (24-7)
Sierra Canyon 9, Pinewood 3 STATE RECORD:
Sierra Canyon 0-0, Pinewood 5-1
STATE RANKINGS (MaxPreps.com):
Sierra Canyon 77, Pinewood 71 TERRIFIC TRIOS:
Sierra Canyon — G Kennedy Burke
, G Zoe Goss
, C Cheyanne Wallace
. Pinewood — G Marissa Hing
, F Leeana Bade
, G Gabi Bade
POINTS PER GAME (ALLOWED):
Sierra Canyon 62.2 (41.4), Pinewood 50.5 (41.9).
Burke, a 6-1 guard, is one of the top sophomores in the country and she showed why with a 28-point, 24-rebound effort in the regional finals, a wild 63-62 win over Horizon-San Diego.
Burke may be big but she can play on the perimeter and she showed by making two of six 3-point attempts against Horizon. She had lots of help from another sophomore, 5-11 post Wallace, who had 20 points and 18 rebounds in the victory. Goss, a 5-10 junior, had 13 points as Sierra Canyon won its first regional title and ninth-straight game in the process.
On paper, Pinewood doesn't look to stand much of a chance with its lack of size – no one is taller than 5-10 – or experience (one senior, three juniors on an 11-person roster), but that's probably how coach Doc Scheppler likes it.
Scheppler has led Pinewood to four state titles, some of them rather unlikely, just like its 48-36 regional final win over Eastside College Prep-East Palo Alto.
Pinewood had lost three previous games to Eastside, all by double digits, but it made 25 of 29 free throws including 13 straight by Hing, who had 17 points to go along with 18 from LeeAna Bade.
Hing, who is a 5-foot sophomore, leads the team with a 10.6 scoring average followed by Gabi Bade at 9.5, LeeAna Bade (9.3) and freshman Chloe Eackles (6.1), whose sister Hailie Eackles led the Panthers to state titles in 2010 and 2011.