March 26, 2010

Game Predictions: CA State Basketball Championships

All games will be played at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, Calif.

Division 1
No. 14 Westchester (Los Angeles City Section) vs. No. 46 Newark Memorial (North Coast Section)
Saturday, March 27 8 p.m.

The Comets beat the only team in California that can match them talent for talent. There just aren't a lot of teams who start four future Division I college players like Dwayne Polee (considering Georgia, Oregon and UNLV), Jordin Mayes (verbal with Arizona), Kareem Jamar (verbal with Montana) and Reggie Murphy (offered by Oklahoma, TCU and Marquette). Newark Memorial didn't win the NCS, falling to De La Salle in the championship game, but the Cougars have a premier talent in Khion Sankey. Newark Memorial got its revenge over De La Salle in the NorCal Regional, but can Sankey do enough to offset a huge size disadvantage against Westchester? Probably not, as the Cougars don't have anyone to match up with Murphy (6-foot-9, 250 pounds) in the post.

Westchester 60, Newark Memorial 51

Division 2
Lincoln (San Diego Section) vs. St. Francis (Central Coast Section)
Friday, March 26, 8 p.m.

Both teams will have the added pressure of being the sole flag carriers for their respective sections, as the San Diego Section and Central Coast Sections have just one team remaining in the tournament. Lincoln has great balance, with guard Norman Powell joining frontcourt sensations Victor Dean (Fresno State) and Nathan Maxey. St. Francis hasn't been the same since losing to Archbishop Mitty in the CCS Division 2 finals, as the Lancers have been just eking by. Two of St. Francis' last three wins have been decided by 4 total points. If Lincoln plays the same way they did in the second half in the SoCal Regional final, this game could turn into a blowout.

Lincoln 63, St. Francis 56

Division 3
No. 54 Gardena Serra (Southern Section) vs. Bishop O'Dowd (North Coast Section)
Saturday, March 27, 3:30 p.m.

You know what they always say come tournament time- the team with better guard-play will usually win out. The Cavaliers have an advantage in the backcourt with guards Keith Shamburger and Vaughn Autry. The Dragons have a the bodies down low, as forwards Jordan Barton, Brandon Ashley and Richard Longrus Jr all stand over 6-foot-6. Shamburger and Autry will have to control the game for Serra to pull this one out, but the key to this game could be Cavaliers' big man Ronnie Stevens. If the 6-foot-8 Stevens can stay out of foul trouble, Serra's depth could eventually wear down O'Dowd.

Serra 56, Bishop O'Dowd 53

Division 4
No. 85 Price (Southern Section) vs. St. Mary's (North Coast Section)
Friday, March 26, 1:30 p.m.

St. Mary's might be the hottest team that walks into Rabobank Arena this weekend., as the Panthers have won six in a row. In a two-week span, St. Mary's took down No. 25 Salesian twice. On the other side, Price will just be looking to play their game, as the Knights have perhaps the most talented player in the tournament in shooting guard Allen Crabbe (Cal). Price has also been playing well as of late, as the Knights are coming off a demolition of San Diego's Francis Parker. Expect a fast start by St. Mary's, but Price is too talented to not win this game.

Price 65, St. Mary's 58

Division 5
La Verne Lutheran (Southern Section) vs. Branson (North Coast Section)
Saturday, March 27, 11:30 a.m.

Branson plays some of the best defense you'll see in prep basketball. The Bulls haven't allowed an opponent to score 50 points in their last nine games, a span in which Branson is 8-1. But can the Bulls slow down Lutheran? The Trojans have four big-time players in C.J. Cooper, Bruce English, Grant Jerrett and Eric Cooper Jr. The one holdup is experience- Lutheran has just one senior on its roster in Montana State-commit Jordan Salley, who hasn't played a game this season because of an ACL injury. Can Branson's tough defense frustrate a young Trojan team?

Lutheran 48, Branson 44

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