Los Angeles Preps: Thurman Thomas

SACRAMENTO -- Brandon Randolph, like many basketball players, has imagined the scenario countless times: clock winding down, ball in his hands, everything in slow motion, crowd goes wild.

It nearly came to fruition Friday afternoon, but the St. Bernard sophomore guard simply ran out of time, as the Vikings fell to St. Joseph Notre Dame, 47-44, in the CIF State Boys Division V championship at Power Balance Pavilion. Randolph had 1.7 seconds to release a potential tying shot, but the buzzer sounded before he let the ball go. His attempt missed by inches, off the front of the rim.

"I think it would have counted if I had made it," Randolph said. "It felt good off my hands. Like a regular shot."

Randolph had only four points in the second half but still finished with a team-high 14. Thurman Thomas, whose heroics in last week's Southern California Regionals got the Vikings (26-9) to Sacramento, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jacari Whitfield led St. Joseph with 15 points, all coming from beyond the arc.

St. Bernard was 3 for 16 from three-point range and managed only 16 points in the second half. Still, neither team led by more than five.

"I understand we're in the arena setting," St. Bernard coach Reggie Morris said, "but 44 points is probably not going to get it done."

Whitfield sank a deep three with 58 seconds left to break a tie and give the Pilots (27-8) a 45-42 lead. St. Bernard trailed by three when Whitfield missed the first of a one-and-one, setting up Randolph's dream-like situation.

"We've got to come back," Randolph said, "work hard and try to get it again next year."

Said Morris: "We definitely will be one of the bigger programs in Southern California, not just on the Division V level but period. We want to stand up and be a powerhouse along those big-name schools."

At Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento

Matchup: Playa del Rey St. Bernard (26-8) vs. Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame (26-8), Friday, 1:30 p.m.

How they got here: St. Bernard: beat Redlands Adventist Academy, 81-37; Flintridge Prep, 68-54; Montclair Prep, 64-53; Sierra Canyon, 61-59 to win the Southern California Regional.

St. Joseph Notre Dame: beat Ripon Christian, 53-32; Vacaville Christian, 75-71 (OT); San Francisco University, 61-43 to win the Northern California Regional.

Key Players: Super sophomore Brandon Randolph leads St. Bernard with averages of 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. Teammate Thurman Thomas, who sank the game-winner as time expired in the regional final, averages 15.7 points. St. Joseph Notre Dame captain Brendan Keane, who is heading to Northern Colorado, had 17 points and seven rebounds to get the Pilots to Sacramento.

What to expect: Don't be surprised if St. Bernard coach Reggie Morris zeroes in on Keane, a 6-10 center who has four inches on the Vikings' tallest player. The Pilots had four players with at least seven boards in the clincher last week, meaning St. Bernard will have to be aggressive in attacking the glass. This will be St. Joseph Notre Dame's sixth appearance in the state title game and first in Division V. The most recent trip came in 2009, when the Pilots fell to champion L.A. Windward, 69-53.

LA North and LA South: St. Bernard 61, Sierra Canyon 59

March, 19, 2011

ONTARIO -- With the final seconds ticking off the fourth-quarter clock in Saturday's Southern California Regional boys' basketball playoff game, Thurman Thomas did not panic. The senior guard from Playa del Rey St. Bernard High kept his wits about him.

Thomas grabbed an errrant shot by Usoma Mbelu along the baseline, turned toward the rim and tossed in the game-winning basket, a floater, as time expired to lift the Vikings to a 61-59 Division V title over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon at Colony High.

"I had to make a quick decision and get the ball up. Once I did, I knew the shot was going in,'' Thomas said. "You know what the funny thing part is, I had a dream that I was going to hit the game-winner last night. I guess things work out sometimes.''

The Vikings (26-8) entered the game knowing that in order to be successful, they needed to stop Jahmel Taylor of Sierra Canyon (27-6). The sophomore guard struggled throughout and finished with four points, well below his 22-point average.

"We wanted to frustrate Taylor, bother him, we weren't going to let him beat us, no way,'' Vikings coach Reggie Morris said.

With Taylor seemingly a non-factor, the Trailblazers turned to Michael Cohen. The senior guard responded too, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the first half of play help Sierra Canyon take what appeared to be a comfortable 36-29 lead at halftime.

St. Bernard responded, Brandon Randolph in particular. He scored back-to-back baskets to start the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer with 1:58 left tied the score at 57-57 and essentially set the stage for Thomas' late game heroics.

Thomas finished with 13 points. Teammate Daniel Cordoba scored 13 points as well.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
CIF Southern California Regional final

Boys Division V

Colony High School in Ontario

Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (27-5) vs. St. Bernard of Playa Del Rey (25-8), Saturday, 3 p.m.

Both teams were in the CIF Southern Section Division 5A playoffs. Sierra Canyon won the 5A title. St. Bernard lost in the semifinals to Montclair Prep. St Bernard avenged that loss to Montclair Prep in the semifinals of the Southern California Regional.

Behind 27 points and 11 rebounds from senior Thurman Thomas, St. Bernard beat Montclair Prep, 64-53.

Sierra Canyon has not lost since Feb. 1, a 61-60 loss to Campbell Hall. The Trailblazers have won 11 games in a row, including 48-45 over Montclair Prep in the Division 5A championship game.

For first-year coach Ryan Silver, it has been a remarkable season. He won the first CIF champiomship in school history for the boys' basketball program. He has his team in the Southern California Regional final for the first time in school history as well.

He has a young team too. Two of Sierra Canyon’s top scorers are freshmen. Jahmel Taylor, the team’s leading scorer, is a sophomore.

St. Bernard has a super sophomore of its own in Brandon Randolph. He scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Regional against Flintridge Prep.

Key players: Three players from Sierra Canyon are averaging double figures in scoring. Taylor leads the team at 21.6 points per game. Marsalis Johnson, the team’s 6-foot-5 freshman power forward, is averaging 11.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. Fellow freshman Bryan Alberts is averaging 11.4 points.

Randolph is averaging 18.8 points and 6.4 rebounds for St. Bernard. He has scored in double figures every game this season. Thomas is second on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game. Junior Emani Gant is second on the team in rebounding at 5.9 per game.