Mitty holds off J.W. North for fifth state title, while La Jolla Country Day rolls to early lead and wins first Division IV crown.
The CIF Division IV and Division II state title games in girls basketball were played at Power Balance Arena in Sacramento. The Division I, Division III and Division V titles will be decided on Saturday.
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 56, J.W. North (Riverside) 54
The NorCal representative came in steeped in championship tradition against an upstart SoCal representative looking to win its first state title.
J.W. North, the team with a new coach and a cast of new players looking to become the first Riverside County team to win a girls state title since all-time great Cheryl Miller led Riverside Poly to the Division I title in 1982, played a valiant game.
In the end, however, the championship savvy Monarchs from Mitty pulled out a close victory by making a majority of their free throws down the stretch, none bigger than the second of two attempts by junior Emily Dinger with 11 seconds remaining that gave her team an insurmountable 56-52 lead.
Free throw shooting was the difference in the game, as Mitty (28-5) converted 9-of-14 in the second half, whereas J.W. North (30-6) made 2-of-6 after intermission. Both teams made five 3-pointers in the game, but Mitty held a 11-5 advantage at the charity stripe.
"We went with our length and ran some zone," said Mitty coach Sue Phillips, who won her fifth state championship in nine appearances. "In the end, it was our defense and rebounding that was the key.
Senior Amanda Lovely led the way for Mitty on the boards with 12 while Dinger and junior Kalyn Simon combined for 32 of Mitty's 56 points. "At first I was frustrated my shots weren't falling," Lovely said. "But this isn't only a team, but a support system so I just kept hitting the boards."
It looked like Mitty was going to pull away for the victory when Dinger hit a 3-pointer with 4:28 remaining to give the Monarchs their biggest lead until that point (44-36). Only moments earlier, a Mitty player had to throw up a prayer 3-pointer with the shot clocking winding down, only to see Dinger score off a offensive rebound.
Despite the surge led by Dinger, J.W. North answered and a baseline jumper by Brittany Crain made the score 44-40. The Monarchs grew their lead to as big as nine points, but the Huskies battled valiantly until the end. North's Tatyana Calhoun even hit a 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to make it a one possession game before Dinger iced it.
"They (North) never went away," Phillips said. "They were resilient, tough. We were fortunate to be on the winning side today."
Simone DeCoud, the daughter of first-year North coach Leonard DeCoud, led the way for North with 14 points and nine rebounds. Akilah Martin and Pricilla Brooks (both 11 points) also netted double figures for North. Brooks had a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Despite the loss, it was a remarkable season for J.W. North. After going 4-21 last season, DeCoud came in along with a core group of new players and completely changed the culture of the program. And outside of UC-Riverside-bound Brittany Crain, North has its nucleus back next season.
"Coming from 4-21 last year to 30-6 is a lot about the kids starting to believe in themselves," McCloud said. "This is a win for our program. We'll be back next year, I promise you."
La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 72, Salesian (Richmond) 41
Sensational junior guard Kelsey Plum and University of San Diego-bound twins Maya and Malina Hood were too much for the Pride.
When Plum opened the game with a 3-pointer, then Tia Kanoa hit another 3-ball followed by an NBA-length trey by Plum, the Torreys had a 9-0 lead and Salesian looked a little shell-shocked.
The lead was 18-3 after one quarter and 33-10 at the half, and eventually got to 66-30 on Plum’s fifth 3-pointer, in what ended up as the second-most lopsided victory in the 25-year history of D4 state championship play.
Plum finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Her five 3-pointers tied the D4 title game record of former La Jolla Country Day star Candice Wiggins set in 2004.
“It’s a great honor to share with Candice,” Plum said. “I am where I am because of Candice. She paved the way.”
Not only did Country Day (32-1) shoot the lights out at the cavernous Power Balance Pavilion (.436 from the field overall and 7-of-16 from beyond the arc), the Torreys dominated the paint as well, and pretty much every other aspect of the contest.
The 5-foot-11 Maya Hood, who plays like a girls 3-4 inches taller, finished with a double-double 19 points and 13 rebounds, with six steals and three assists. Malina scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“From top to bottom this is the best TEAM I’ve ever had,” said La Jolla Country Day coach Terri Bamford, who evens her state championship record at 3-3 but gets her first Division IV title. The first two crowns came in 2001 and 2002 in Division V with Wiggins as the star.
Sophomore whiz Mariya Moore led Salesian (31-5) with 19 points, but she had none in the first quarter and two at halftime. Freshman MaAne’ Mosley registered a double-double 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“We’re a very young team, so this is a good learning experience for our ladies,” said Salesian coach Steve Pezzola. “Hopefully we can get back here a few more times.”
The win for Country Day ended a three-game state title game losing streak and erased the memory of a 68-58 loss to Los Angeles Windward in last year’s Southern Regional title game.
“After the loss to Windward last year, we definitely used it as a motivator,” said Maya Hood. “We weren’t going to let it happen again in this game.”