Los Angeles Preps: Deonte Burton
Meanwhile, Serra coach Dwan Hurt said the Apaches' game plan was simply to do their best to slow down Centennial stars Kevin Smith and Deonte Burton — and they were successful. Smith and Burton combined to make just nine of 22 shots for a total of 25 points. Hurt also saw his floor leader, Keith Shamburger, get doubled early and often Saturday. But Hurt said he was impressed by Shamburger's willingness to distribute the ball:
Serra guard Vaughn Autry's father, Stephen, died last month at 42, just before the start of postseason play. The senior, a Montana signee, discussed how his late father affects his play on and off the court and how an assistant coach's idea to use black jerseys during the Cavaliers' victory proved emotional:
The Compton Centennial senior was assigned the unenviable task of trying to slow down Keith Shamburger during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Southern Section Division 3A title game at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Problem was Shamburger was seemingly unstoppable.
The 6-foot senior point guard for Gardena Serra used a a pair of crossover dribbles to free up some additional space between him Davis. A head-and-shoulders fake followed and froze his defender. Then, Shamburger stepped back and knocked down a fade away jumper that touched nothing but net.
“That’s my favorite move and it worked,’’ Shamburger said.
Everything was working for him in the Cavaliers’ 62-58 victory over the Apaches. All told, Shamburger played all 32 minutes and finished with 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals to guide Serra (30-2) to the championship.
In the waning moments, Shamburger drove to the basket, and with the defense collapsing around him, he found Marquis Lee cutting to the basket for a layup to give the Cavaliers a 61-58 lead with :25 left in the fourth quarter.
Fittingly, Shamburger dribbled the ball across half court as time expired before being heading to the Serra sidelines and the celebration.
The Cavaliers weren’t satisfied with a two-point lead at halftime. They wanted more and came out and took more in the third quarter.
Shamburger hit a three-pointer, and shortly thereafter, Craig Carter had back-to-back buckets. George Farmer converted a layup and Vaughn Autry knocked down a jumper to extend the Serra lead to 44-34 with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Centennial star Deonte Burton didn‘t have his best game, unfortunately. The 6-foot-1 senior guard was resilient though and two baskets gave the Apaches (25-6) a glimmer of hope as they headed into the fourth quarter trailing 46-44.
Burton ended up with 15 points, on four-for-13 shooting from the field. Teammate Kevin Smith, however, kept Centennial close throughout. He finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds and his layup to cut the Serra lead to 59-58 with less than a minute left.
Shamburger was having no part of a comeback, though.
“We worked to hard to just give up,’’ he said. “We wanted this one bad, more than they did. I wasn’t going to let my teammates down.’’
Burton got off to a slow start. It took him nearly five minutes to score his first points of the game, on a three-pointer at 3:19. Minutes later, he knocked down a pair of free-throws for the Apaches, who trailed 14-12 with :59 left in the first quarter.
Autry, Serra’s standout, struggled as well. The senior guard managed one basket in the first quarter, also on a three-pointer, before heading to the bench with his second foul with 17 seconds left in the first quarter .
Shamburger picked up the slack for the Cavaliers. He scored six points in the first quarter, highlighted by a pull-jumper over Burton just before the buzzer sounded to give Serra an 18-12 lead at the end of one.
Centennial came out with a sense of urgency in the second quarter. Good defense led to better offense for the Apaches as Kurt Davis converted a layup, Kevin Smith got loose underneath for a two-handed dunk and Harrison Hawkins scored a pair of baskets.
Next thing you know, Centennial had a 28-24 advantage with 1:39 left before the break.
The Cavaliers answered with a run of their own. Lee made a basket inside. Autry re-entered the game and made an immediate impact, scoring on a layup just before intermission as Serra took a 30-28 lead at the break.
For those up at the crack of dawn, Gardena Serra (29-2) and Compton Centennial (25-5) are set to tip-off at 9 a.m. The showdown promises to be an entertaining affair, worth waking up a tad bit early for. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see Deonte Burton. The 6-foot-1 senior for the Apaches is as dynamic as they come, a tremendous scorer who’s considered one of the West Coast’s top unsigned prospects. Serra is no slouch and counters with the talented backcourt tandem of Vaughn Autry and Keith Shamburger. The guard play figures to be the difference in this one.
Shortly thereafter, Murrieta Valley (26-4) and Compton (18-12) take the court, scheduled for 10:45 a.m. The Knighthawks have made a rather remarkable run to the finals, upsetting top-seeded Summit and fourth-seeded Alta Loma en route to the championship game. It doesn’t appear as if anyone can stop them. The Tarbabes would like to think otherwise. Cliff Sims Jr. & Co. come in with plenty of confidence after shocking second-seeded Edison in the semifinals. When all is said and done, one of these Cinderella teams is going to realize its dreams.
No one in Southern California is hotter than top-seeded Rialto Eisenhower (27-5), which enters its 12:30 p.m. game against Pasadena (24-6) with 18 consecutive victories. Picking your poison against the Eagles is tricky given the fact that they have several players capable of scoring in double digits. Focusing attention on any one individual could prove costly. For the Bulldogs to remain close, Steven Adams will have to play a prominent role. Make no mistake, all signs point to the 6-foot-9, 230- pound post player being capable. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.
Santa Monica (24-6) is another one of those teams that was supposed to be on the outside looking in at this stage. The eighth-seeded Vikings didn’t stand much of a chance against fourth-seeded Colony or top-seeded Chino Hills. But low and behold, here they are, in the 2:15 p.m. championship game against Leuzinger (23-6). Amir Garrett might be an underclassman, but the 6-foot-6 junior certainly doesn’t play like he has limited experience at the varsity level. If he approaches his averages, 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, the Olympians should take home the title.