Los Angeles Preps: Division IV

Price knocks off La Verne Lutheran

March, 13, 2012

LA VERNE -- It was as simple as this: Skylar Spencer didn't want his season to end. One free throw to tie, two to lead. Less than seven seconds remaining.

The San Diego State-bound forward sank both, pushing Los Angeles Price past La Verne Lutheran, 53-52, Tuesday night in the Southern California Regionals Division IV semifinals at the University of La Verne. Price will match up against top-seeded Gardena Serra, the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA champion, in the regional title game Saturday night at Ontario Colony High School.

Second-seeded Lutheran, a two-time defending state champion, had a chance to win with 6.9 seconds remaining, but McDonald's All-American Grant Jerrett fumbled a pass inside the paint before the final buzzer sounded.

"That last six-point-whatever seconds seemed like two minutes," Price coach Michael Lynch said. "When I saw that ball fumbled away, I lost it."

Lutheran (25-8) took a 52-51 lead with 32.8 seconds remaining after Jerrett made one of two free throws. Lynch called a timeout and, on the ensuing possession, Spencer pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled hard.

He composed himself and took the biggest free throws of his life.

"I knew I had to at least make one but I was worried about making two," said Spencer, who finished with 11 points and five blocked shots. "I didn't want my season to end. I didn't want the game to go into overtime."

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SACRAMENTO -- Windward basketball coach Miguel Villegas had done his best to maintain composure in the interview room at Power Balance Pavilion, answering questions with a stern look while his players smiled and giggled.

After five minutes, he could no longer fight the tears.

Villegas broke down, dedicating the Wildcats' 63-57 victory over Richmond Salesian in the CIF State Boys Division IV championship to Daniel Tan, a former Windward player who died in January of multiple sclerosis. Windward took turns carrying a sewn portrait of Tan, an avid supporter who graduated in 2007. The Wildcats captured their second state title in three years.

"There's nothing that we can't accomplish," Villegas said. "I think these kids definitely did that this year."

Harvard-bound forward Wesley Saunders led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds, but he didn't do it alone. Three other Windward (27-8) players scored in double figures: Nick Stover and Luke Silverman-LLoyd each had 13, Charles Dawson had 12.

The Wildcats' biggest lead was nine, early in the fourth quarter, following an emphatic dunk by Saunders. But he was called for a technical foul after saluting the Windward student section on his way back to the other end. Salesian (26-12) cut the deficit to three, but Stover's three-pointer with 1:23 left gave the Wildcats a nice cushion.

"It was kind of a dagger play," Salesian coach Bill Mellis said.

Windward's zone defense held Salesian to 34-percent shooting (21 for 62), including just five for 22 from beyond the arc. Jabari Bird, one of the top guards in the 2013 class, had a game-high 23 points, but Windward limited 310-pounder Freddie Tagaloa, a highly touted offensive lineman, to just six.

"I thought it was a good zone," Mellis said. "Windward is long, active and able to cover a lot of ground. I also thought they did a good job of taking away our inside game."

Matchup: Windward (26-8) vs. Richmond Salesian (25-11), Saturday, 11:15 a.m.

How they got here: Windward: beat Buckley, 76-55; Washington Union, 80-57; Oaks Christian, 58-52 to win the Southern California Regional.

Salesian: beat Orland, 68-20; Santa Cruz, 85-66; St. Mary's, 59-53 to win the Northern California Regional.

Key Players: Harvard-bound Wesley Saunders leads Windward with averages of 20.2 points and 10 rebounds. He, along with forward Nic Stover, the brother of UCLA center Anthony Stover, create a potent tandem up front. Salesian has been rolling ever since top player Jabari Bird was reinstated. He had been deemed ineligible due to a paperwork violation.

What to expect: These teams have been here before, so the butterflies should disappear quickly. Salesian is much better than the 25-11 record indicates. Salesian had to forfeit 16 wins before when Bird was ruled ineligible, then regained six of them upon his return. So really, Salesian is 35-1 as it chases its second state crown in three years (also won in 2009, beating Bishop Montgomery, 65-64). Windward has a state championship in its trophy case, too, ousting St. Joseph Notre Dame, 69-53, in 2009.

LA North and LA South: Windward 58, Oaks Christian 52

March, 19, 2011
ONTARIO -- From a statistical standpoint, Wesley Saunders might not have had the best game of his high school basketball career during Saturday's Southern California Regional playoffs.

However, the senior forward from Los Angeles Windward did just enough to guide the Wildcats to a 58-52 victory over Westlake Village Oaks Christian in a Division IV championship game.

"Numbers don't always tell the story, especially when it somes to Wesley,'' Windward coach Miguel Villegas said. "There's no way to measure all the things he does well over the course of a game.''

When all was said and done, Saunders finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Wildcats (26-8), who played well early on and took a 29-18 advantage at the halftime break.

The Lions (26-8) were seemingly in trouble from the jump. Starters Chass Bryan and Blair Holliday began the game on the bench because of disciplinary reasons. Bryan, a point guard, finally entered play with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. Holliday, a shooting guard, checked into the game at the beginning of the second quarter.

Oaks Christian made things interesting in the fourth quarter behind Taylor Hange, who scored nine of his 12 points in the final eight minutes of play as the Lions cut the deficit to one point with 5:46 left in the game.

The Harvard-bound Saunders answered, of course. He scored, was fouled on the play, and made the subsequent free-throw to extend the lead to six points with less than three minutes remaining.

"I came out an played my game tonight, that's what I wanted to do,'' Saunders said.

Nick Stover scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half of play for Windward.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
ONTARIO — So far, Francis Parker High of San Diego hasn’t been the pushover many expected in the Southern California Regional Division IV boys’ basketball final at Colony High.

In fact, the Lancers have pushed back.

Price of Los Angeles leads, 33-28, at the break. The Knights looked as if they might be on the verge of shaking Francis Parker, but each time the Lancers found an answer.

With the Knights trailing, 11-10, late in the first quarter, Price guard Allen Crabbe sank an NBA-distance three-pointer. On the next possession, he dunked an offensive rebound. When the dust finally settled, Price had taken a 22-14 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Knights stretched their lead to 10 points in the second, but Francis Parker’s 6-foot-7 forward, Eric Norman, scored all seven of his points during the remainder of the quarter to help cut the deficit in half.

Crabbe, who was named the Gatorade state boys’ basketball player of the year this week, has 13 points and six rebounds in the opening half, but none of his teammates have more than five. Price shot 11 for 27 from the field in the first half.

Dalante Dunklin has 11 to lead the Lancers, who are shooting nine for 27 thus far.

LA North & LA South: Harvard-Westlake
rolls over Montgomery in D-IV regional

March, 20, 2010
ONTARIO – The Harvard-Westlake girls basketball team jumped out to an early lead and blew out Bishop Montgomery, 57-44, in the CIF Southern California Division IV regional championship game at Colony High School.

Nicole Hung scored a game-high 23 points and had 13 rebounds for Harvard-Westlake. Nicole Nesbit added 11, scoring nine in the second half.

But it was the Harvard-Westlake defense that set the tone for the game. Bishop Montgomery scored only six points in the first quarter and Harvard-Westlake outrebounded Bishop Montgomery, 39-29.

"That was the difference today," Harvard-Westlake coach Melissa Hearlihy said. "Our defense was great. I think we did a great job on the boards."

Sydeny Haydel scored 15 points in the first half to help Harvard-Westlake build a 29-18 halftime lead. She made six of 11 shots from the field and was three for five from the free-throw line. Bishop Montgomery shot 28.6 percent from the field in the first half.

Hearlihy said Haydel was a spark on defense.

"She played great defense," Hearlihy said. "She has good guard skills. I think she showed that today."

Harvard-Westlake beat Bishop Montgomery, 58-54, in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs. Hearlihy said she wasn’t too happy with her team’s defensive performance after that game and concentrated on improving it before her team’s rematch.

By stepping up on defense, Harvard-Westlake was able to score with ease. Harvard-Westlake had nine steals as a team, led by Nesbit and Hung, who each had three.

"To me, that’s what we are," Hearlihy said.

Kristin Ale scored 15 points to lead Bishop Montgomery. Teammate Chelsey Aaron had six points and eight rebounds.

LA North: Crespi No. 3 in CIF Division IV state boys basketball championshps

March, 7, 2010
Crespi of Encino earned the No. 3 seed in the CIF Division IV state boys basketball championships and will play El Segundo (19-11) in the first round.

Crespi (21-11) won the Southern Section Division 4A championship, 50-43, against an Alemany team with a losing record.

Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (17-13) is the fourth seed in the Division IV state championships and will face Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana (14-13) in the first round.

Oaks Christian of Westlake (19-9) opens the Division IV state championships against Kingsburg (16-12) from the Central Section.

Paraclete (21-7) will play Immanuel of Reedley (21-10) from the Central Section in the first round of the Division IV state championships.