Div. II: Pleasant Valley (Chico) 66, Chico 58
The Vikings had just a little more balance and depth in a game that featured a duel between junior guards Devon Hills and Danny Baccam. Hills led Pleasant Valley with 27 points despite battling symptoms of the flu. Baccam kept Chico close with 27 of his own. How in the world PV got the No. 1 seed in the Northern Regional Div. II playoffs over Santa Rosa Montgomery is a complete mystery (other than section politics). The Vikings thus would get not one but two games at home before possibly heading down to ARCO for the final.
Div. III: Enterprise (Redding) 64, West Valley (Cottonwood) 46
Brody Angley brought home the bacon for the Hornets with 20 points and fellow guard Kenny Frank added 12. Enterprise won its sixth straight section title and appeared in the section finals for the ninth straight time.
Div. IV: Gridley 59, Durham 44
Garrick McDowell, a 7-foot senior center, helped force a lot of outside shots by Durham, which didn't go in and led to a rather lopsided loss. Gridley's top scorer was Efren Del Rio, who netted 20 points.
Div. V: Liberty Christian (Redding) 48, Bishop Quinn (Redding) 45
The Patriots won their 26th straight game and head into the NorCal playoffs on a roll. Their only loss was to Capital Christian, which just lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. V final to Modesto Christian.
Div. VI: Happy Camp 67, Butte Valley (Dorris) 56
Yes, there is no Division VI in the state playoffs so this is the end of the season for these teams. Happy Camp won its second straight title behind 28 points from JayJay Reed. He had 15 in the fourth quarter alone.
NORTH COAST SECTION
Div. I: Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 55, Berkeley 50
With a partisan crowd mostly wearing "For Phelps" t-shirts, the Dragons hung on for their third straight nail-biting victory to win a section title. After edging San Leandro and Newark Memorial, O'Dowd got by the Yellowjackets behind 15 points from Dane Welsh and excellent leadership at the point from Johnny Bryant. The section title will go on the resume of head coach Mike Phelps, who's been on paid leave for more than two months. It is the first for O'Dowd since 1996, but it's the 11th for the school under Phelps. The embattled coach also won two NCS title when he started coaching at St. Joseph of Alameda.
Div. II: Montgomery (Santa Rosa) 60, Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 49
Playing up at Sonoma State was a big advantage to Montgomery in this matchup of state-ranked teams. Amador's defense did a good job against Montgomery's Tyler Tiedeman (15 points) and Kyle Jeffers (14), but others stepped up to fill the void. Danny Arrow's three three-pointers were especially painful as they pierced the netting. With Sacramento High getting dumped in the Sac-Joaquin final, Montgomery might now be a good bet to get to ARCO Arena for the state final for the second time. If they run into Amador again, though, it won't be close to Sonoma County. It would be in the regional final.
Div. III: El Cerrito 43, Northgate (Walnut Creek) 42
Jerryk Owens-Murrey led the Gauchos with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It's a team that seemed to benefit in the playoffs from league matchups vs. the likes of Hercules and Berkeley during the regular season. Hercules won the Div. IV title and Berkeley made it to the finals in Div. I.
Div. IV: Hercules 58, Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 46
If you look at the power rating-influenced seedings, a No. 6 beating a No. 1 in the final might appear to be an upset. Not so, if you follow our state rankings, as Hercules has been among the state's top 10 in this division for many weeks. Hercules is a good bet to play Monte Vista Christian in the NorCal final on Saturday.
Div. V: Hoopa Valley (Hoopa) 43, Branson (Ross) 37
Hoopa also dispatched defending NorCal Div. V champ University of San Francisco, 53-43, in the semifinals. The first NorCal game this week is a very tough matchup vs. Capital Christian.
Div. I: Valley (Sacramento) 58, Jesuit (Carmichael) 53
The preseason choice by many in the Sacramento area got it done in the postseason and beat the team it finished behind in the Delta League standings for a section crown. Roburt Sallie, who hit two free throws in the closing seconds to wrap up an earlier playoff win, paced Valley with 17 points and made two free throws within the last seconds once again vs. Jesuit. The Vikings, remember, also are the ones who beat Bishop O'Dowd way back in early December. That's why they got seeded in front of the Dragons and would get to play them at home in the semis as opposed to being on the road. We'd do it differently as that puts too much emphasis on one game in early December and ignores the fact that Valley lost to a last-place team in its league while O'Dowd hasn't lost since. It might not matter, though, since Valley's first round opponent, McClymonds, could wind up being one of the two best teams in the NorCal playoffs anyway.
Div. II: Woodcreek (Roseville) 63, Sacramento 49
The backcourt tandem of Jeff Flores (18 points) and Juston Willis (15 points) frustrated the Dragons all night and keyed this upset. Sac High came in on a 27-game win streak and had climbed to No. 2 in the state in this division. Gene Strong led Sac with 18 points, but the team spent too much time griping about fouls and officiating and also started launching ill-advised three-pointers when it wasn't yet out of the game. It's hard to imagine Woodcreek in the Div. II state finals, so the likely NorCal rep probably will be either Montgomery of Santa Rosa or Amador Valley. Woodcreek gets Amador at home right off the bat, so the NorCal draw wasn't kind to the Timberwolves.
Div. III: Foothill (Sacramento) 71, Highlands (North Highlands) 43
Since the Scots are a team the Mustangs beat pretty easily twice in league, this one didn't figure to be close and it wasn't. Sam Kirby led Foothill with 18 points, the same total as Highlands' Sead Dizdarevic but Dizdarevic was in foul trouble for much of the game. Foothill took the top seed in this week's NorCal playoffs and certainly wouldn't have to travel far for the state final at nearby ARCO Arena.
Div. IV: Amador (Sutter Creek) 48, Marysville 37
A 12-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter gave the Thundering Herd their second straight section crown. Kyle Huggett, who had a 48-point game earlier this season, finished with 23 points for Amador. Huggett's offensive rebounding, as well as the offensive rebounding of teammate Jack Faustino, was the key to Amador's triumph.
Div. V: Modesto Christian 70, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 68
Sophomore Andray Glenn's follow shot with three seconds left bounced high off the rim and then straight down through the net as the Crusaders won their fourth straight section title. The last three crowns were in higher divisions. Capital battled the favored Crusaders on even terms throughout, thanks mainly to senior forward Anthony Brown, who scored 30 points. Glenn led MC with 20. A rematch is very possible in this week's NorCal final, especially if Capital gets past Hoopa in its first game.
Playoff Final: Oakland Tech 87, McClymonds 80, OT
While Trevor Ariza made a big statement to be Mr. Basketball with his performance in the L.A. City final, Leon Powe's may have been even louder in this game. The 6-8 senior rampaged for 42 points, including 27 in the second half and 18 straight at one point, as the Bulldogs won their third straight title. Mack could make some major noise in this week's NorCals since it beat Tech in the two teams' previous game and almost did it again. Antonio Kellogg, a super junior, led the Warriors with 30 points.
SAN FRANCISCO SECTION
Playoff Final: Lincoln 63, Burton 46
Marques Benjamin connected on five of six from three-point land and led the Mustangs with 25 points. Lincoln won its fourth SF city title in the last five years, but with a 21-11 overall record it doesn't look like it will do much in this week's NorCal Div. I playoffs. Burton received an at-large bid and will play in the Div. II playoffs.
CENTRAL COAST SECTION
Div. I: Bellarmine (San Jose) 70, Salinas 59
After knocking off the state's last unbeaten team in the semis (Piedmont Hills), the Bells kept up their momentum in the final with a surprisingly easy win over Salinas. Bellarmine opened up a 13-3 lead in the early going and used a suffocating defense to prevent the Cowboys from going on any runs of their own. Bryan Schiefelbein led the Bells with 19 points.
Div. II: Palo Alto 77, Aragon (San Mateo) 62
The Vikings won their first section title since 1996 behind Ryan Symes, who ripped down 16 rebounds to go with 28 points. Aragon is coached by Kari Huxford and this week may be the first team to play in the regional state playoffs with a woman head coach. We can remember when Mitchell Butler (the former UCLA player) was at tiny Oakwood of North Hollywood that he was coached by a woman, but getting this far is very rare, indeed, no matter who the coach is.
Div. III: Mitty (San Jose) 48, Burlingame 37
This turnaround story of the year could get even better this week as the Monarchs have a shot at winning the Div. III NorCal crown (although Sacramento Foothill is even more of a favorite). Last year, Mitty was 0-12 in the West Catholic Athletic League. Against Burlingame, Stephen Chang led the Monarchs with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Clint Allard added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Div. IV: Monte Vista Christian (Watsonville) 74, Oceana (Pacifica) 66
MVC needed the duo of Michael White and J.T. Tipton to come up big as the defense couldn't slow down Oceana sophomore Chaz Thomas. They did. Tipton scored 27 and White had 24, which was enough to offset Thomas' 40. Look for an MVC final appearance in the NorCal regionals, probably against Hercules.
Div. V: Eastside Prep (Palo Alto) 67, Redwood Christian (Castro Valley) 30
The Panthers made it to the NorCal final in this division last year and are a threat to go to the state final once again. This win was a breeze as Victor Pannu rang up 25 points. Eastside Prep's only loss this season was by four points to Oakland, the third-best team in the Oakland Athletic League but also close to being the third-best team in Northern California.
Div. I: Bakersfield 62, Clovis West (Fresno) 55
Titus Shelton shelled the Golden Eagles inside and finished with 18 points. The Drillers snapped a six-year run of section titles by Clovis West (although two of those titles were later taken away via forfeit). Bakersfield will get a home game in the first round of the South Region, and the Drillers could do well, too, except they got stuck with L.A. City runner up Fairfax.
Div. II: Edison (Fresno) 62, Highland (Bakersfield) 42
Section historian Bob Barnett's figures say this was the 1,300th all-time win for the Tigers. It also resulted in their 17th section title. Jerome Ireland led Edison with 19 points.
Div. III: Washington (Easton) 98, Hanford 82, OT
This wild, wild west shootout almost featured three players with 30 or more points and because two of those were from Washington, it was the Panthers who were able to pull away in overtime. Junior Dwight O'Neil of Washington led all scorers with 35 points and freshman teammate Tre'Von Willis had 30. Hanford's Tyrell Cleaves had a great game for his team and wound up with 29. Both teams might do well this week, but it's hard to imagine Hanford winning on the road, away from the confines of its noisy gym, especially because the Bullpups will have to travel so far, all the way to La Jolla, for their first-round game.
Div. IV: Garces (Bakersfield) 80, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 42
The Rams have had absolutely no competition so far in this division and haven't played a decent team since January. We'll find out this week if that will make a difference against probably San Diego Lincoln in the semis and then either Verbum Dei or Horizon in the final. Anthony Esparza and Zach Ryan led the way vs. SJM with 21 and 20 points, respectively.
Div. V: Immanuel (Reedley) 57, Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) 43
Jacob Wild had 27 points and 14 rebounds for Immanuel, which got a break in the seedings in that Santa Fe Christian and not Rolling Hills Prep was put in the No. 3 spot. It would appear that RHP would be the stronger foe and now No. 1 Price will probably get to play that team in the semis instead.
L.A. CITY SECTION
Championship: Westchester 66, Fairfax 56
The Comets won their fourth straight section title and made it five out of six with an easier than expected win over the Lions. The battle between the state's No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams was essentially over in the third quarter when Westchester built a 22-point lead. Trevor Ariza is making a push to be Mr. Basketball and shined with 21 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Jamal Boykin, possibly the Mr. Basketball in the state among sophomores, led the Lions with 20 points. For the teams to meet a fourth time, Fairfax will have to travel first to Bakersfield and win and then likely to Oceanside to beat an El Camino team its already lost to once this season.
Invitational: King-Drew 66, North Hollywood 57
Terrell Burgess led the winners with 20 points and five assists. The winner of this section title does not advance to this week's regionals.
Div. I-AA: Eisenhower (Rialto) 75, Silverado (Victor Valley) 71
The Eagles are another one of those teams we liked in the preseason that wound up strong at the end. This was their first section title and came with star Sean Marshall scoring 24 points. Vince Alvarado led Silverado with 28.
Div. I-A: Loyola (Los Angeles) 70, Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 62
The Cubs went on a 13-0 run early in the fourth quarter to put away the Cougars. Canyon Springs went for broke on three-point shots as it missed 12 straight from long range in the second half. Chris Rucker had 21 points, seven blocks and seven rebounds to lead Loyola, which won its second straight section title after having won zero in its long history beforehand.
Div. II-AA: St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 62, Inglewood 59
This is another example of Mater Dei's dominance in this division as a team from the Monarchs' league that they've beaten twice winds up winning the title in the other half of the section. Eric Lane was brilliant for the Braves with 28 points and they needed him to be as Ray Reed soared for 30 to lead Inglewood. We didn't hear if Lane sought out a poster of Reed and stomped on it afterward, but we doubt that it happened. We also noticed a couple of key plays for SJB were turned in by Joe Cowan. Is there a better three-sport athlete in the state this year?
Div. II-A: Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 78, Mayfair (Lakewood) 59
Wesley Washington made 18 of 18 from the free throw line and finished with 27 points for the Monarchs. They led by 23 at halftime and cruised in from there. It was the fifth straight section title for the state's No. 1 team and the 17th section title in 21 years under head coach Gary McKnight.
Div. III-AA: Artesia (Lakewood) 64, Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 50
Defense was the key for the Pioneers, who have now officially returned from the abyss created with all the ineligible players used in the late 1990s under former coach Wayne Merino. Coach Scott Pera praised those who remained loyal to the program in the aftermath of the investigations and forfeitures and three of those players -- Kejuan Johnson (19 points), Jibri Taylor (16) and Kaelen Daniels (10) -- all turned in strong efforts vs. the Eagles.
Div. III-A: Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 74, Centennial (Compton) 72, OT
Although Artesia deserved to get the top seed for this week's regionals, it wouldn't be surprising if the top two teams of Div. III were these two. Harvard-Westlake tied the score with 0.03 seconds left in regulation on a free throw by Zach Woolridge. The Wolverines won it with 4.8 seconds left in overtime on a bank shot by Bryce Taylor. The junior standout finished with 24 points. Arron Afflalo led Centennial with 25, but fouled out on the same play that sent Wooldridge to the line at the end of regulation.
Div. IV-AA: Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 70, Crossroads (Santa Monica) 67, 2 OTs
It only took two years for the Oaks Christian program to land a section crown in boys basketball. Mike Hornbuckle, a junior, led Oaks Christian with 16 points, while his freshman brother, Matt, added 14. Neither team would appear to be at the same level of Horizon, Garces, Lincoln or Verbum Dei.
Div. IV-A: Verbum Dei (Los Angeles) 81, Campbell Hall (North Hollywood) 55
The Eagles haven't been ranked in the realm of Horizon, Garces or Lincoln this season, but based on their talent and their tradition nobody should be surprised if they turned out to be the ones headed to Sacramento after this week. Amir Johnson, just a sophomore, dominated with 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Verbum Dei. Mike Davis had 13 assists and Mike Pagan had 14 points.
Div. V-AA: Rolling Hills Prep (R.H. Estates) 61, Apple Valley Christian 41
Junior phenom Curtis Allen and his teammates might be ready to take on Div. V state No. 1 Price after this impressive win. Allen wound up with 24 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.
Div. V-A: Price (Los Angeles) 80, Desert Chapel (Palm Springs) 50
Make it five straight section titles for coach Mychal Lynch's program. Now comes the quest for a fourth straight state title, something that hasn't been done before. Price will probably play Rolling Hills Prep in this week's Southern Regional semifinals.
SAN DIEGO SECTION
Div. I: El Camino (Oceanside) 67, San Diego 43
The Wildcats already have a win over Fairfax this season and may run into the Lions again in this week's regional semifinals. Mikel Watson (19 points) and Gyno Pomare (16 points, seven rebounds) paced the easy win over San Diego High. It was the program's sixth section title but the first in Division I.
Div. II: Escondido 60, Helix (La Mesa) 59
The Cougars inbounded with .05 seconds on the clock and got the improbable win when Lorenzo Keeler's catch-and-shoot shot went in. Keeler finished with 28 points. Helix was the bracket's top seed.
Div. III: La Jolla 62, Steele Canyon (Spring Valley) 47
Steele Canyon made it all the way to the section finals in its first year of existence, but fell to the La Jolla combo of Jake Wohlfeil and Wai Jon Wai. Wohlfield scored 19 points and Wai had 16 points and 16 rebounds. When Wai takes a bad shot, do they say, "Wai Jon, Wai?"
Div. IV: Horizon 79, Lincoln (San Diego) 64
It may be Div. IV, but this was the section final in San Diego that involved two of the section's top three overall teams. Horizon beat Lincoln once again, this time by 15 and should be the team to beat (along with Garces) in this week's Div. IV regionals. Jared Dudley and Ryan Read both scored 21 points to lead the Panthers.
Div. V: Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 79, Julian 50
The SFC boys matched the girls, who won a section title the night before. Nick Corso, who averages nearly 28 ppg, led SFC with 24 points, but it was the team's other players -- including Matt Wild (18 points) -- who keyed a big run in the third quarter that broke open a game that was just 30-29 at halftime.