High-SchoolCalifornia: CIF State Championship
February, 28, 2012
By Harold Abend | ESPN.com
Mark Tennis/ESPNHSRejane Verin (second from left) and the rest of the Gardena Serra girls have earned a return trip to the CIFSS championships in Anaheim.Important announcement from Cal-Hi Sports | Archived Cal-Hi Sports content
Serra of Gardena posts two eye-opening wins and goes from unranked to No. 16 in this week’s rankings. The Cavaliers take on No. 1 Windward in CIFSS final.
The Cal-Hi Sports caravan was busy last week covering mostly boys in the CIF North Coast Section and CIF Central Coast Section, but we did have an opportunity to take in the Carondelet of Concord versus Northgate of Walnut Creek quarterfinal matchup in the NCS that preceded the host De La Salle boys game in Concord.
The Cougars led from start to finish, bolting out to a 24-9 lead after one quarter en route to an 87-58 victory.
Notre Dame-bound senior guard Hannah Huffman led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds with three assists. Super sophomore Natalie Romeo added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Senior Melissa Russi chipped in with 11 points.
Top-ranked Windward, meanwhile, proved that no matter how good you are, a poor shooting night in the playoffs can keep a game close, especially against a quality opponent like St. Bernard of Playa del Rey, which moved up to D4 after finishing as the D5 state runner-up last season.
Windward prevailed 59-52 in the CIF Southern Section Div. 4AA semifinal, but it was anything but a cakewalk.
“It’s a good thing Imani (Stafford) showed up and that Jordin Canada wasn’t going to let us lose,” Windward coach Steve Smith told Cal-Hi Sports.
“We were 2-for-18 on threes and they dared us to shoot it,” continued Smith.
Stafford, who is still not totally at full tilt after rehabbing the summer and fall, missed several layups and only finished with 10 points, but the 6-foot-7 Texas-bound post had 21 rebounds, six blocks, and altered several shots that missed.
Sophomore Canada had a game-high 19 points (four rebounds, three steals, two assists) and along with Stafford, the pair keyed a 13-4 run that pushed the Wildcats' lead to 50-37 early in the fourth quarter and sealed the deal.
(Through games played on Saturday, Feb. 25)
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. (1) Windward (Los Angeles) 27-3
Coach Smith has been raving about the play of sophomore Kristen Simon. “Next year, this will be her team, but right now she’s our second-leading scorer and rebounder coming off the bench as the sixth girl.” Against St. Bernard, Simon had eight points and 10 rebounds. Earlier in the week, in a 66-49 win over JSerra of San Juan Capistrano, she had 11 points and nine rebounds. Next up is a CIFSS D4AA championship game matchup with new No. 17 Serra of Gardena, a 73-62 upset winner of second-seed and previous No. 17 Oaks Christian of Westlake Village.