Saturday, March 3, 2012
Experience carries St. Bernard in 5AA
By Pedro Moura
SANTA ANA -- St. Bernard forward Jalen Walker said he doesn't remember what it feels like to lose, and understandably so.
It has been 65 days since the Vikings of Playa Del Rey have lost a game, winning 16 straight in that span entering Saturday's CIF-SS Division 5AA championship game against Ribet Academy at Mater Dei High.
Let's just say he still doesn't remember. The 6-foot-4 senior scored 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting and led St. Bernard to a comfortable 81-67 win over Ribet, giving the Vikings 17 straight wins and a CIF title to boot.
He had to step up with junior guard Brandon Randolph in foul trouble all game. And Walker and fellow seniors Lance Booker and Emani Gant all did, with Booker pouring in 15 points of his own and Gant adding 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
"High-school basketball is about seniors. Freshman sensations are good, but you win championships with seniors and guys who've been there before," said second-year St. Bernard coach Reggie Morris. "I thought that our seniors played like it was their last opportunity."
Ribet coach Will Middlebrooks said his team did not have the same kind of leadership as St. Bernard. Guard Brandon Robinson is a junior and scored 26 points on Saturday, but the Fighting Frogs' other top two scorers -- 6-4 Tyler Dorsey and 6-11 Idrissa Diallo -- are both underclassmen.
"We really are young, and people tend to forget that," Middlebrooks said. "The team we played was more hungry and they had a little bit more seasoning than we did."
Dorsey, who was recently offered scholarships by Arizona and USC, is one of the most-hyped players in the country in the Class of 2015. He was the focus of the St. Bernard defense, keyed in on from the very beginning of the game. He finished with 17 points -- five below his average -- in 19 minutes, fouling out of the game late.
He added 10 rebounds and five assists but also committed five turnovers. Diallo, a Class of 2014 big man, had 13 points and nine rebounds but was also in foul trouble for much of the game.
St. Bernard (23-7) beat Ribet (19-10) by 13 in a Las Vegas showcase game in January, but Dorsey did not play due to an injury.