With Bishop O'Dowd being knocked off on Saturday St. Joseph Notre Dame
remained the only Northern California team left on the winners side of their
bracket Monday, but University of San Diego High's Rico Tucker and Stanley
Hoenig saw to it that no NorCal team would advance to the finals on Tuesday. St.
Joe's Alex Harris poured in a game high 34 but it didn't get enough help against
the Dons. Though Severin Gates was held in check on the offensive end he did the
same against St. Joe's Doni Noble. After a first half that found St. Joe's
trailing by 13 Harris took over, cutting the lead to four by the end of the
third but Tucker and his mates steadied the ship and his their free throws down
the stretch winning 84-73.
On the other side of the American Division bracket La Costa Canyon used balanced scoring from sophomore Chase Buddinger (rapidly emerging as an '06 POY candidate, if not sooner) and senior Peter Wofford and denial defense against Texas Tech signee Damir Suljagic (10 points, well below his tournament average of 23) to beat Salpointe. Salpointe sharpshooting guard Trey Clarkson carried the Tuscon, AZ school through the early putting La Costa in a seven point hole at the half, but Clarkson cooled in the third quarter and LCC took the lead a lead in the frame that they would not relinquish, eventually winning 61-54.
Two teams with significantly diminished expectations met on the consolation side of the National Division when Bishop O'Dowd and Tournament host Torrey Pines locked up in the afternoon. For the second time in their own tournament Torrey Pines lost as O'Dowd's David Brower (12 points) and Jesse Byrd (9 points) worked the inside/out game to perfection for a 48-42 win. TP's Julian Hinderling (16 points) and Michael Laughlin (14 points) got little help in the loss.
California schools didn't completely dominate the tournament though. True, six of the eight finalists in the four divisions are local, but while El Toro will represent California in the Governor's Cup final Rancho Bernardo was knocked out by the Dobson (Mesa, AZ) Mustangs in a 69-63 OT thriller. Dobson was paced by 6'7" senior Chris Taylor (20 points) who's smart play and soft touch helped Dobson win.
Tournament organizers always hope the top bracket has the best games, but it rarely seems to happen. Leave it to Torrey Pines to give the fans what they want as both semifinal games in the national bracket gave fans a thrill in very different ways. When Dominguez upset De La Salle in the quarterfinals one had to wonder what would be left in the tank for defending champ El Camino. Apparently there was plenty as this one would go down the wire. In a game of runs El Camino jumped out to a 17-11 advantage after the first quarter, a lead that would be erased by half time as the Compton kids when into the locker room tied at 28. The third saw El Camino again take control, entering the final frame with a ten-point advantage. But again Dominguez, behind Brian Harvey's 32 points refused to lie down. With nine seconds left Dominguez took their first lead of the second half 65-64 lead, and while Justin Armstrong led the Wildcats with 19 and James Daniels was right behind with 16 it was senior Brad Alkazin who would hit the right baseline jumper with two seconds left to give El Camino a second straight trip to the finals at the Holiday Classic. The clock hit :00, but the referees ruled Dominguez had called a time-out and two seconds were placed back on the clock. It wouldn't matter as Dominguez couldn't get off a shot and El Camino advanced 66-65.
As great a game as the Dominguez/El Camino tilt was the highlight of the night came in a relatively unexciting 65-45 win for the St. Anthony Friars over Flanagan. As the clock ticked down making the win official St. Anthony's head coach Bob Hurley was given a standing ovation from the almost completely California crowd. With the win Hurley reached the 800 win milestone. The New Jersey school's nine point half time lead wouldn't be seriously challenged in the second half and Hurley no doubt was already thinking about tomorrow night's championship game against defending champ El Camino before 800 was even official. PrepCA.com sends its congratulations to Coach Hurley and St. Anthony's on an incredible accomplishment.