SACRAMENTO -- The Salesian boys' basketball team started out a little sluggish, but came away with the CIF State Division IV championship at Power Balance Pavilion on Friday afternoon.
Down 16-10 in the first quarter, Salesian came alive in the second quarter to take a one-point lead at halftime, build a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and went on to win, 70-56, over Price.
Salesian from Richmond (34-2) won its second CIF state championship and was making its second state final appearance in a row. The Pride lost to Windward in last year’s CIF State Division IV final. Coach Bill Mellis said playing in the championship game last year helped his players prepare for this year’s game.
“All week long, we knew what we were up against,” Mellis said. “We knew whoever came out of the south was going to be a tough challenge. The first half, they were getting the best of us.”
Price (27-8), the No. 16 team in the ESPN Los Angeles rankings, took advantage of its size in the first half and outrebounded Salesian, 22-17. Second-chance points helped Price build an early lead. Price had 16 offensive rebounds to Salesian’s nine.
But Salesian went to a zone defense and was able to keep Price off the boards in the second half, evening out the rebounds.
Price couldn’t make free throws either. The Knights were 14-for-32 from the free-throw line. Salesian wasn’t much better at 50 percent (14-for-28). When asked to comment on his team’s free-throw shooting in the game, Price coach Michael Lynch responded, “Do I have to?”
Not only did Price shoot 44 percent from the free-throw line, the Knights missed the front ends of one-and-ones and a few technical free throws.
“That’s how you get behind,” Lynch said. “I don’t know what happened tonight.”
Salesian’s Jabari Bird scored a game-high 24 points and was 10-of-16 from the field. Teammate Jermaine Edmonds was the only other player in double figures. He scored 10 points off the bench and played the fourth quarter with four fouls.
Khalil Johnson led Price with 17 points and was one of three players in double figures for the Knights. Trey Dickserson scored 15 points and Skylar Spencer had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Salesian capped a 27-game winning streak with the CIF state championship.