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L.A. City Section Powers Fall In Overtime
A team that won an improbable boys Div. II state title and one that dominated the division for many years will be meeting in the SoCal Div. I Regional Final Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena with the winner advancing to its first Div. I state title game.
King of Riverside, which upset Mater Dei of Santa Ana on its way to an improbable Div. II state title in 2002 and Dominguez of Compton, the kingpins of Div. II with six state titles since 1996, will play for the second time this Saturday after knocking off two L.A. City Section powers in Thursday's Div. I regional semifinals.
King (32-2) needed overtime to knock off top-seeded Taft, which came into the game ranked No. 2 overall in the state. McDonald's All-American guard Larry Drew had a chance to win it for Taft (27-4) in the closing seconds of regulation, but his 17-foot jumper was off-target. In overtime, the Wolves took control behind junior Kawhi Leonard, the hero of King's overtime win over Etiwanda in the CIF Southern Section Div. I-A title game. The Wolves took a 79-72 lead, but the final margin was cut on two three-pointers in the final 24 seconds by Drew, who finished with 35 points. Leonard, one of the state's fast-rising underclassman, finished with 22 points as King made nine of 21 three-pointers as a team.
Dominguez trailed for much of the game against L.A. City Section runner-up and defending Div. I state champ Fairfax of Los Angeles, but eventually took the game into overtime. The score was tied at 71 after 36 minutes of play, but the Dons' Jordan Hamilton opened up the second overtime with a three-pointer and Dominguez (31-2) never looked back. The Dorsey of Los Angeles transfer finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds as the Dons will be gunning for their eight regional title on Saturday, but their first in Div. I.
Fairfax (27-6) had a chance to tie the game on its last possession, but Jordan Weathers' three-pointer was off-target with five seconds to play and the Lions never got another look. They were led in defeat by junior center Renardo Sidney and senior Chris Solomon with 22 points each.
Dominguez and King met earlier this season at the Pangos Dream Classic, with the Dons winning 68-60 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
Long Beach Poly Girls Dominate, Mira Costa Redeems Itself
For the fourth consecutive season, the Long Beach Poly girls basketball team knocked out A.B. Miller of Fontana from the playoffs. Last season, they beat the Lady Rebels in the SoCal Div. I regional final, but this year the Jackrabbits' playoff win over Miller came in the regional semifinal Thursday night. Miller took an early 12-point lead in the first quarter, but the Jackrabbits tremendous strength and depth took its toll on the perimeter-oriented club. Miller trailed 43-36 at halftime but the lead was up to 20 points (63-43) entering the fourth quarter as Poly rolled to victory, 87-58.
Returning EA SPORTS All-American Jasmine Dixon led the way with 25 points and 16 rebounds while junior center Monique Oliver added 24 points, 20 rebounds and seven block shots against a Miller team that simply could not compete with Poly on the boards. There has been much attention given to the much ballyhooed NorCal Div. III girls regional final between Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Mary's of Stockton, but were not sure there is a team playing any better than Poly is right now. The fact remains Sacred Heart Cathedral beat Poly and St. Mary's has a chance to knock the Fightin' Irish off so it will be ranked accordingly until game results prove otherwise.
Poly (29-2) will battle L.A. City Section champ Narbonne of Harbor City in the regional final. The Lady Gauchos knocked off Chatsworth, the L.A. City Section runner-up, in Thursday's other regional semifinal, 54-48.
It would be difficult to knock off a team like Poly more than once, but how about trying to beat a talented league rival three out of four times in a season?
That was the task facing nationally-ranked Redondo in the SoCal Div. II semifinals where it met Bay League foe Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach for the fourth time. The teams split their league contests then it was Redondo winning the third matchup in the CIFSS Div. I-A finals, 56-42. Mira Costa got the last word, however, as they beat the Seahawks 41-37 in overtime to advance to Saturday afternoon's regional final against Ayala of Chino Hills.
Mira Costa's Megan Richardson made a lay-up at the regulation buzzer to send the game into overtime and scored a team-high 14 points. Senior teammate Mikah Maly-Karros played valiantly, grabbing a career-high 26 rebounds and adding 12 points. Antonye Nyingifa, who scored 26 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, was held to 13 points in the low-scoring affair.
Mitty Girls, Sacred Heart Cathedral Boys Can Play, Too
While much attention is rightfully given to the nationally-ranked Mitty of San Jose boys team and the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls team, the top team in the Rivals.com FAB 50, the other gender teams at both WCAL schools can play a little roundball, too.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral girls advanced to the NorCal Div. III title game with a 67-48 victory over Sacramento High and that's the same school the SHC boys team will meet in the regional final at Arco Arena after downing El Camino of Sacramento, 72-67, in two overtimes.
Guard guard Teandre Hubbard canned a three-pointer with three second left in regulation to knot up the score at 63. In the first overtime, El Camino was leading until SHC's Darryl Cooper hit a floater to send the game into the second overtime where the Fightin' Irish eventually prevailed. Jerry Brown led SHC with 23 points while Kevin Green added 18 for a team that has bounced back from a disappointing 2006-2007 season to reach the regional final for the second time in three years. In 2006 when the core of this year's team were freshman, Sacred Heart Cathedral advanced to the Div. IV state title game.
The Mitty girls team also will be joining its boys team in a regional final, but they don't appear to be a prohibitive favorite like the boys club will be in its match up with Fairfield. The Lady Monarchs will do battle with St. Francis of Sacramento, a team that beat the Wilcox of Santa Clara club that Mitty lost to in the CIFCCS title game. The Troubadours beat Wilcox, 47-37, in their regional semifinals victory while Mitty dispatched of El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge by a 52-40 margin in its semifinal triumph.
No Compton Equals No Competition
With the CIF Southern Section Div. I-AA playoffs knocking out Compton High and Simi Valley High (two teams ranked in the state top 20 for most of the season) before the regional, predictably the competition for Mater Dei of Santa Ana has been over matched in the SoCal Div. II regional. The top-seeded Monarchs rolled past CIF San Diego Section Div. II runner-up Mission Hills of San Marcos, 83-54, as junior David Wear led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Mater Dei routed Bakersfield Centennial, 76-39, in the quarterfinals and will be a prohibitive favorite against Edison of Fresno in the SoCal Div. II Regional final on Saturday afternoon. Edison, the CIF Central Section champions, knocked off San Diego Section Div. II champ Hoover in the other semifinal, 68-58.
At least we'll get to see Demar DeRozan, Compton's star wing and Mr. Basketball candidate, at the McDonald's All-American game because his team was clearly better than most of the teams in Div. II South. At least this scenario involving Simi Valley and Compton in Div. II and Gahr of Cerritos in Div. III South shouldn't happen in the future as this week the Southern Section Council voted to revise its boys and girls basketball playoff structure. It will now be structured more along the lines of school enrollment than the league strength formula it currently uses. There will now be 12 playoff divisions, up from 10, and the teams will be designated into a particular bracket first by their enrollment and then moved up or down through the various divisions on a point system based on previous playoffs success.
Other Favorites Roll on to Regional Finals
A majority of the favorites in other divisions around the state rolled in their regional semifinal wins on Thursday Night. Branson of Ross joined Sacred Heart Cathedral and Mitty in having both of its basketball programs advance to a regional final. One victory of note in the Southern California girls regional playoffs was Magnolia of Anaheim avenging its loss to Summit of Fontana in the CIFSS Div. III-AA semifinals to advance to the Div. III regional final where they will meet top-seeded Muir of Pasadena. Magnolia had lost to Summit, 49-46, in the section playoffs but came back to win the regional semifinal, 45-41............ Two games that could be barn-burners in the Northern California boys regional finals are in Div. I and IV. In Div. IV, St. Mary's of Berkeley is playing really good ball and rolled in its semifinal 70-50 over Colfax. The Brew Brothers (Will and Chris) are complimented nicely by sophomore Dominique Lee and they will have their hands full against standout junior Reeves Nelson and Modesto Christian, which defeated Kennedy of Richmond, 87-72, in its regional semifinal game. Is there any player in Northern California playing better ball than Nelson, a UCLA commit?......... In Div. I, its De La Salle of Concord versus McClymonds of Oakland and that game will be a rematch of the Martin Luther King Holiday Classis marquee game won by Mack, 44-42. That game was a nip-and-tuck affair and Saturday's contest could be too. Nationally-ranked McClymonds, fresh of its 62-42 regional semifinal win over Newark Memorial, comes into Saturday's contest with a perfect 30-0 mark. This scenario closely resembles the one we saw in 1993 season when McClymonds, led by big man Darrnaryl Stamps and guard Anthony Byrd entered the regionals undefeated at 25-0. They ran into De La Salle and were upset 67-60 to ruin a perfect season. The only difference was that game occurred in the regional semifinal, not the final as Mack finished 26-1. We'll see if history repeats itself or if Mack will get another crack at the SoCal Div. I representative after losing to Fairfax of Los Angeles last season.......