Los Angeles Preps: Division 1AA

Mater Dei survives against Loyola

February, 28, 2012

ANAHEIM -- The two losses Mater Dei has this season came in overtime, so the last thing longtime Mater Dei basketball coach Gary McKnight wanted was to head there.

Senior forward Xavier Johnson sank two clutch free throws and the Monarchs played suffocating defense on the final possession, escaping with a 61-58 win against Loyola in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1A semifinal Tuesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

Sharpshooter Jacob Hazzard's potential tying 3-pointer barely left his hand before it was sent back his way. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani grabbed the loose ball and fired a 3-pointer of his own but missed badly, and top-seeded Mater Dei advanced to face second-seeded Long Beach Poly in Saturday night's title game at the same venue.

"I just didn't want it to get to overtime," McKnight said.

Johnson made sure it didn't, recording game-highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds. His electrifying dunk at the end of the third quarter was exactly what a lackadaisical Mater Dei needed to wake up.

"They made one more play than we did," said Loyola coach Jamal Adams, whose team led by as many as nine late in the third quarter. "We played our tails off. No moral victories."

Recent history between the two added intrigue. Last season, defending Division 1A champ Loyola lost to Mater Dei in the Southern California regionals, 72-70, after leading by nine heading into the fourth quarter. The Monarchs went on capture the state crown in Sacramento.

Tuesday night's affair mirrored that closely: Defending state champion Mater Dei (28-2) went on a 9-0 run midway through the fourth to regain control.

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L.B. Poly outlasts Etiwanda again

February, 28, 2012

ANAHEIM -- Make it four straight playoff wins for Long Beach Poly over familiar foe Etiwanda.

Defending CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA boys' basketball champion Long Beach Poly advanced to the title game once again Tuesday night, earning a semifinal victory over third-seeded Etiwanda, 56-47, at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. After experiencing recent success against the Inland Empire power, Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer used a proven blueprint: Size.

"Another dogfight with Etiwanda," Metoyer said. "I think it was everything that everybody thought it would be. We played tough. Our goal was to dominate the paint."

The second-seeded Jackrabbits (27-1) did exactly that, holding a 43-23 rebounding edge behind the interior play of juniors Roschon Prince and Jordan Bell. Prince had 22 points and 10 boards; Bell had nine points, 12 boards and seven blocks.

Prince, coming off a career-high 40 points in the quarterfinals, was nearly uncontainable on drives to the basket and made 14 of 19 free throws, including 11 of 14 in the fourth quarter. Bell, meanwhile, made his presence felt on defense. His monstrous block on Jordan McLaughlin with just under two minutes left changed the momentum. Etiwanda could have pulled to within two but, instead, the Jackrabbits got two points at the other end and pulled away.

"It's a nice luxury when you've got a guy who can get off the floor and block shots," Metoyer said.

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Loyola capable of Division 1AA glory

February, 14, 2012
If the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA bracket unravels as many expect it to, fourth-seeded Loyola will get a shot at top-seeded Mater Dei in a dream semifinal matchup at Anaheim Arena on Feb. 28.

Yes, the boys basketball playoffs have yet to tip off and each team still has to win three games, but we're looking ahead for the sake of projection. Some recent history also adds intrigue here: Last season, defending Division 1A champ Loyola lost to Mater Dei in the Southern California regionals, 72-70, after leading by nine heading into the fourth quarter. The Monarchs went on to Sacramento and returned home with another state crown.

Think that hasn't crossed the minds of Loyola players this season?

The Cubs (21-4), at least on paper, stack up well against Mater Dei (24-2). The Monarchs have a dynamic 3-point shooter in Katin Reinhardt, and Loyola has one too in senior guard Jacob Hazzard. Mater Dei's Xavier Johnson, a Colorado signee, is one of the most versatile forwards in the Southland, but Loyola's Julian Harrell, a Pennsylvania signee, could keep up. Each team has solid role players: Mater Dei with Eli Stalzer and Elijah Brown; Loyola with Justin Childress and sharpshooter Trey Mason.

And don't forget about forward Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei and point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, maybe the best sophomores in the area.

Loyola, which hosts Trabuco Hills in the first round on Friday, and Mater Dei, which plays Chaparral, appear to be on a collision course. And it's impossible not to consider what may lie ahead.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

South: Notable seeds for CIF-SS basketball playoffs

February, 12, 2012
Defending CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA champion Long Beach Poly received a No. 2 seeding in the boys' basketball bracket Sunday, a mere formality given that Mater Dei, the state's top-ranked squad, resides in the same division. The Jackrabbits (23-1) have maybe the best shot at unseating the Monarchs.

Poly opens postseason play with Riverside King on Friday at 7 p.m.

Loyola (21-4), the Mission League's second-place team, received a No. 4 seeding and opens against Trabuco Hills. Other south Los Angeles County schools receiving seeds in Division 1AA: Santa Monica (6), Downey (8) and Long Beach Jordan (14).

Notable seeds from the other divisions:
  • Division 4AA: Call this the "division of death." The seeds: No. 1 Gardena Serra (24-2); No. 2 La Verne Lutheran (19-6); No. 3 Bishop Montgomery (21-4); No. 4 L.A. Price (19-7); No. 5 Windward (18-8). First-round games will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m. Muir went 24-2 and won the Pacific League on the court but was disqualified from the playoffs for using an ineligible player. Muir will forfeit 20 wins.
  • Division 1A: Warren is the No. 13 seed, Walnut is No. 15.
  • Division 2A: No. 1 seed Mayfair (21-5), the Suburban League champion, hosts Moorpark. No. 2 seed Compton (17-9) plays San Bernardino. No. 4 seed Leuzinger, the Bay League champion, hosts Baldwin Park.
  • Division 3AAA: No. 1 seed Damien (24-2), the Sierra League champion, plays El Dorado. No. 2 Pasadena (19-7), hosts Magnolia.
  • Division 3A: No. 2 seed St. John Bosco (19-6), the second-place finisher in the Trinity League, hosts Jurupa Hills.
  • Division 4A: No. 1 seed Pacific Hills (23-4) has a first-round bye and plays the winner of Costa Mesa-St. Monica.
  • Division 5AA: No. 1 St. Bernard (19-7), a state finalist last year, has a first-round bye and awaits the winner of San Gabriel Academy and Cate.

On the girls' side:
  • The No. 1 seeds: Windward (Division 4AA); Long Beach Poly (1AA); Keppel (2AA); West Torrance (3AAA).
ANAHEIM -- Perhaps there's a pebble out there that can bring down Long Beach Poly. Etiwanda just couldn't find it Tuesday night.

Top-seeded Long Beach Poly wasn't perfect but did enough in a 60-53 win over fourth-seeded Etiwanda to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA boys basketball championship game. The Jackrabbits (28-1) will face third-seeded Corona Centennial in the final Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The Huskies came back from a 15-point hole to knock off second-seeded Mater Dei in the other semifinal at Anaheim Arena.

"At Poly, whatever sport you play, you always have that target," said senior Alexis Moore, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. "With the No. 1 seed, we knew there was going to be a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure put upon us. We just tried to tune that out and play our game."

Super sophomore Roschon Prince, who had a game-high 19 points, gave Poly a four-point lead with a lay in inside with a minute remaining. He stole the ball on Etiwanda's next possession and took it the other way for the clincher, allowing the Poly contingent the chance to exhale.

But Prince's best contribution was his defense on Etiwanda's Byron Wesley. Wesley finished with 18 points, but only four came in the fourth quarter.

"I could tell Byron was getting frustrated," said Moore, who will team up with Wesley at USC in the fall. "In the first half he got pretty much anything he wanted. Byron is capable of breaking you down, whether it's at the top of the key or in the post. I'm going to have a lot of fun playing with him next year, but Roschon did a better job of staying on his toes and moving his feet."

There was another interesting dynamic that should draw plenty of conversation on the Boston College campus next fall. Etiwanda's Jordan Daniels (12 points) and Poly's Ryan Anderson (11 points) will be teammates.

The game included 10 ties and four lead changes. Poly didn't reach its biggest lead until the final made free throw. In the end, it was defense and transition efficiency that proved to be the solution.

Moore joked that he would not talk too much trash because Poly might face Baseline League champion Etiwanda (28-3), which got to Anaheim with ease by beating up on Long Beach Wilson, Chino Hills and Valencia, in the state tournament.

LA South: Regional basketball notes

February, 17, 2011
Some key performances and upsets in the first round of the CIF Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs, with a focus on teams located in south Los Angeles county:
  • Division 1A -- Walnut upset No. 10-seeded Tesoro, 57-51.
  • Division 2A -- Top-seeded Peninsula, the Bay League champion, extended its win streak to 24 games with a 62-28 victory against Fullerton Troy. Sophomore Nick Colletta's game-high 28 points were not enough for No. 4-seeded Glendora, which was blindsided by Eastside, 72-65, in overtime. No. 5-seeded Mayfair advanced with a 66-43 win against Westlake. No. 7-seeded Gahr moved on with an 84-52 victory over Indio. Mira Costa upset No. 6-seeded San Bernardino, 62-54.
  • Division 3AA -- Top-seeded Price had no problem with Ramona, winning 90-49. No. 4-seeded La Verne Lutheran got 20 points and nine boards from Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett to beat Claremont, 66-48.
  • Division 4AA -- No. 8-seeded Northview beat Northwood, 77-76, in double overtime. Brian Johnson had 37 for Northview. Tyler Hill scored 20 for No. 6-seeded Bishop Amat in a 59-47 win over San Luis Obispo. No. 2 Windward got 24 points from Nic Stover and 22 from Wesley Saunders in an 83-65 victory against Cathedral.

Division 1AA: No. 13 Chino Hills 71, Leuzinger 62

February, 16, 2011

CHINO HILLS -- The barrage kept coming and, rather than call time outs, Chino Hills coach Steve Baik kept his hands at his hips. The large lead had evaporated, the momentum gone.

Fortunately, Baik had AJ Hecox.

"Thank God they came through," Baik said. "Otherwise, I would have been called the worst coach in the world."

Hecox scored 14 of his team-high 24 points in the second half, guiding No. 13-seeded Chino Hills past Leuzinger, 71-62, in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA basketball playoffs.

The Huskies blitzed Leuzinger at the start, jumping out to an 18-2 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Olympians chipped away behind sophomore Eric Childress' 14 first-half points. Chino Hills' lead was trimmed to nine, 34-25, at halftime.

Leuzinger squeezed every tick of the break, emerging from the visitors' tunnel some 30 seconds before the start of the third quarter. None of the players made an attempt to warm up. The strategy seemed to pay off.

All of a sudden, it was a game again.

Leuzinger came roaring back, taking its first lead early in the third quarter on a breakaway layup from captain Marshawn McMahan. Still no time out from Baik.

Hecox responded by sinking a three on the other end. The Olympians eventually regained the lead, 44-43, but another Hecox three put the Huskies (22-6) up for good.

"That's the best feeling in the world," Hecox said. "I'm sure any basketball player will say that. When you're making your shots and you feel confident, you feel like you're unstoppable out there."

It was a bittersweet ending for Childress, who finished with a game-high 26 points. It was a different story for McMahan, the top scorer for Leuzinger (17-10). Hecox bottled him up to the tune of 3-for-15 shooting. McMahan had erupted for 29 points against Bay League champion Peninsula on Feb. 1.

Senior Warren Ondatje had 17 for Chino Hills, which didn't win the Sierra League for the first time since 2006. For the Huskies, Wednesday night's victory was a redemption of sorts. The senior group didn't want to be remembered as the team that didn't win.

"This game was real important because no one felt we would make it this far," Hecox said. "No one thought we'd get past the first round. We're still proving people wrong."

And the Huskies will have one more chance to bark Friday against No. 4-seeded Etiwanda (26-2), which took care of Long Beach Wilson.

"We feel like we've got a chance," Baik said. "Etiwanda is a great team. We're just going to have to go to the drawing board and figure out their strengths. We feel like we've got a chance if we compete with some energy."
A late-season loss to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman spoiled Long Beach Poly's bid for a perfect season, but it didn't alter the Jackrabbits' playoff picture.

Moore League champion Poly (24-1) received the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA basketball playoff bracket Sunday. The Jackrabbits, ranked No. 1 in the area by ESPNLosAngeles.com, hosts Corona Santiago on Wednesday night. Pacific League winner Pasadena (20-6), seeded No. 6 in the same bracket, hosts Trabuco Hills; No. 8-seeded Montebello (25-3) hosts Redlands.

Other Div. 1AA games involving south Los Angeles County teams: Leuzinger at No. 13 Chino Hills; Long Beach Wilson at No. 4 Etiwanda; Lynwood at No. 14 Los Alamitos; Santa Monica at No. 11 Upland; Lakewood at No. 9 Thousand Oaks; Bell Gardens at No. 15 Rancho Verde.

First-round games will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Notable seeds from the other divisions:
  • Division 1A: No. 4-seeded Downey (25-2) has a bye to begin and awaits the winner of No. 13 Fountain Valley and California.
  • Division 2AA: No. 1 seed Peninsula (25-1), the Bay League champion, hosts Troy. No. 4 seed Glendora (21-6) plays Eastside.
  • Division 3AA: No. 1 seed L.A. Price (18-6) begins its state title defense when it hosts Ramona. No. 4 La Verne Lutheran (18-4) plays Claremont.
  • Division 3A: No. 4 seed Damien (23-3), the Sierra League champion, hosts Agoura, No. 5 Bonita (24-3) plays Temple City.
  • Division 4AA: No. 2 seed Windward (19-7) hosts Cathedral, No. 4 seed St. John Bosco (19-8) plays at Desert.