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CIF-SS Finals:  Results From
Friday Night @ LMU--(Mar. 7, 2003)

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What:  

CIF-SS Finals

Where:  

Loyola Marymount

When:  

Friday, March 7, 2003

IV-AA --Oaks Christian 70, Crossroads 67 (2OT)
IV-A --Verbum Dei 81, Campbell Hall 56
V-AA --Rolling Hills Prep 61, Apple Valley Christian 41
V-A --Price 80, Desert Chapel 50

It's late on Friday night, almost Saturday A.M., and we haven't even done any previews or schedules for the Saturday games at the Pond or the City Section games at the GW Forum.   Blame it on Oaks Christian.   Blame it on Crossroads.  Great game.  Double overtime.  Unbelievable finish, moments right out of "Hoosiers."   More on that later though.   In the meantime, we've got some stats, and a game-by game report of what happened, brief, but still some details....and then we'll have to focus on the games we're going to get up at 6:30 a.m. to see tomorrow, which start at 9:00 a.m. down in Anaheim.   Here's what happened, in the order in which it happened.  If you're bored, we suggest you just skip ahead to the good stuff, which was Crossroads vs. Oaks Christian, about as good a game as we've seen all year, perhaps the best game we've witnessed in several years....

Division V-A:  Price 80, Desert Chapel 50:    As we've been saying for a few years, as long as Price keeps fielding teams like the one which won its fourth straight CIF-SS title, and which is on its way to possibly an unprecedented fourth straight State title, there won't be much else to talk about.  Price dominated this game from start to finish, no if's and's or but's about it.    We don't have time to do full box-scores right now, so we'll just give you the highlights:   Price led this one 24-9 at the end of the first quarter and the Knights never looked back, not for a minute.  They outplayed, outhustled and outran Desert Chapel, which was clearly outclassed in this game.  We've not seen DC this year, but Price is just on another planet from what the Desert Chapel guys must have been used to seeing all year.    At the end of the second half, Price had scored another 21 points, and DC had only scored another 13, and Price led 45-22 at the half.

terronsutter.jpg (12310 bytes)The second half was just a little more of the same, but DC at least almost won a quarter, coming close in each of the last two, with Price outscoring DC 14-11 in the third and 21-17 in the fourth.    So who played well:   Price had four players in double figures:  Billy Grayson had 18 points on 6-12 shooting from the firel and 4-5 from three point range.   Darren Morrison shot 7-8 from the firled and finished with 14;  Marcus Palmer had 20 points, on 8-15 FG, and 2-4 from 3 point range.  Oscar Edwards had 10 and 10 (6 offensive boards and 4 defensive).    For Desert Chapel, Shane Nicolas had 14 points on 4-10 shooting and 2-5 from three, while Landon Hernandez had 10 p;oints on 4-11 FG shooting.  Reed Ritchie, who had led DC in scoring this year and last, was held to 12 points on 5-10 FG shooting and 1-t from three.  No one else broke into double figures for either team.    Price's Derrick Williams (6'-3" Sr. G) didn't suit up and was on the bench in street clothes.  Something about having hurt his knee in the last game and wanting to rest for the State Regionals....Price won handily without him.  Terron Sutter, a 6'-7" freshman forward [pictured at left] also played well.

Highlight of the game:  We can't remember, because Price just seemed to score at will.   Lowlight:   There was a particular Desert Chapel "fan" who appeared to be a father of one of the players, who just happened to station himself in the front row of the bleachers on the same side of the court as the media table, which was where all of the sportswriters were sitting courtside.  Rarely, if ever, do you see professional sportswriters who cover high school, college and pro games wince or appear visibly upset by the shouting and conduct of a fan.....Well, this was one of those times, and frankly, we're a little embarrassed for the kids on the Desert Chapel team, and we all felt a little sorry for them having to listen to this jerk....So, here's a clue, pal:  These are just high school kids.  Give them a break.  You're not their coach.  Be a parent.   Be supportive.  And if you can't say something nice, just shut up.

Division V-AA:  Rolling Hills Prep 61, Apple Valley Christian 41:    Again, it's late and we don't have time for many details, so suffice it to say, that all of the trash-talking and chest-beating we've been reading in various newspapers which has been attributed to the Apple Valley team was, well, just so much chest-thumping and bravado, and when it came time to play this one, Apple Valley was really no match for Rolling Hills Prep.  Oh, they might win one if this was a best of seven series, but it would be tough.    And in a one game final, it wasn't destined to be.  We don't mean to be unkind, because the Apple Valley kids worked hard, played hard and seemed to be reasonably well-coached, but this game was never, never in doubt, and by early in the fourth quarter, when Kevin Dillon fouled out,  and also got called for a technical foul as he walked off the court while staring down the player from RHP whom he had given a hard shot to in picking up his 5th foul, it was really, really over even though more than 6 minutes remained to play.  Unfortunately, this was the one game where we didn't get a final boxscore, but since the CIF-SS stat guys were killing lots of trees, handing out detailed stats each quarter, we can certainly tell you with great confidence that RHP was leading 44-25 at the end of three periods.   RHP led 16-7 at the end of one, 26-17 at the half, and by process of addition, RHP outscored Apple Valley 17-16 in the fourth quarter, with many of Apple Valley's points coming after the RHP starters, including Curtis Allen, DJ Wright and Jason Daley had been removed from the game.   We also know from our notes (as well as Ben Bolch and Dan Arritt of the LA Times) that Curtis Allen had 24 points and 15 boards, as well as four blocked shots.  Kevin Dillon had 10 points before fouling out, and Tim Langel had 12.  Apple Valley's Marcus Miller scored just 4, and between Miller and Dillon, they shot just 6-25 from the field.     Really, there was not much else to say about this game, which turned into a rout and was not very much fun to watch by the end.   But there's a bright side if you're an RHP fan:   This is the second consecutive CIF-SS title for the Huskies, and the good news is that everyone with the excption of Kris Stricklin and Igor Balinovski (who played solidly...sorry we didn't get his point total), will return, and RHP has a good shot at pulling off the three-peat.    Look for RHP to get the loser of the Central Section or the loser of the San Diego Section, and according to one source we spoke with, the State has apparently changed the seeding and travel priorities, and each team which is seeded No. 1 (which will probably be Price in Division V) gets to play its games at home.  We haven't verified this yet, but will on Sunday.  Look for Apple Valley to get one of the Champions, possibly Price, but more likely the winner of one of the other CIF sections (either Immanual or Mission Prep from Central, or most likely Santa Fe Christian from San Diego.

Division IV-A:  Verbum Dei 81, Campbell Hall 56: Another game which turned out to be really anti-climactic, and which had us thinking, "Man, I amirtipoff.jpg (29323 bytes)hope we don't have to sit through four games like these three."  Fortunately, the good news is that this game was over in 32 minutes of regulation play, and we were able to stick around and give our complete attention to the Oaks Christian victory over Crossroads, which, as we said above, was one of the best games we've seen in a long, long time.    This one, between Verbum Dei and Campbell Hall was not one of those.    Oh, there were more than a few reasons to be happy we watched this one though:  Mike Pagan is one reason, and the diminutive junior guard, who transferred from Long Beach Poly before the start of last year's season, proved that there is no one else who is 5'-9" who can finish as well as he can.  Heck, there are guys who are 6'-9" who can't finish that well.   He finished the game with 14 points, but it seemed like 30....He was everywhere and played about as solidly as anyone could have wanted a point guard to play.  Very quick, drives to the basket and just knows how to score on the break or breaking his man down on a drive.   A lot of people thought they were seeing double, but Mike Davis, No. 11, really isn't Mike Pagan's clone...it just looks that way.  He's another quick, compact guard who can knock down the short range pull up jumper or finish on the break and he scored 13 points.....At the end of the fourth quarter, when Verb cleared its bench, they brought in five new guys, and all of them were about the same size as Mike Pagan and Mike Davis, and it had all of us joking that it was the "Mike Pagan channel....All Pagan, all the time."    Really though, there was a lot more to this game than those two. 

Another highlight about watching this game:   We got to see Amir Johnson again [pictured at left above, in the game's opening tipoff].  He's gotten bigger, stronger and he's got tons of potential.  Runs very well.  Smallish hands, but can catch just about anything thrown to him or at him, running or standing still.  And he's just a soph, with a great upside.   He finished with 20 points, on....get this.... 9 for 10 shooting from the field....Yes, that's right, he shot 90% from the field,  but only 2-5 from the line (guess we know what part of his game he needs to work on).    Best stat of all for Amir:  He had 9 blocks.  Oh, for a 6'-9" guy, he also managed 2 steals.  Not a bad day's work at the office.    Who else played well?  Mike Bell had 15 points for Verb on 7-15 FG shooting.  Oh, and Mike Davis also had thirteen (13) assists, which was an astounding number in a final game.  

The good news for Campbell Hall is that everyone (or just about everyone) will be back and this is a really young team.  The bad news tonight was that this was a really young team.  Bright spots were Darryl Harris who had 15 points on 6-17 shooting, Joe Ford who had 14 points on 4-14 FG shooting, and Jason Heard who scored 11 on 4-17 shooting from the field.  Ford had 8 rebounds and Heard had 12.  Steve Tolbert scored 8, Tyler Wilder had 4 and Sam Handler had one point and 8 rebounds.  No one else scored for Campbell Hall.      

By quarters it also was not pretty, and the game was really done by the end of the first quarter, when Verb led 24-7.  The second quarter was a little better as the teams played even, with both scoring 17, but obviously that didn't do anything to cut into the lead which Verb had built in the first quarter, and the score at the half was 41-24.  In the third quarter, Campbell Hall manaed 17 to Verbum Dei's 20, and the fourth was Verbum Dei's also, 17-20.  

Verbum Dei repeats (again) as section champs.   The good news for both teams is that they will live to fight another day and both will make the first round of the California State Championship's Southern Regional Tournament.  Verbum Dei is likely to be the No. 1 seed, but San Diego Lincoln (whose coach, Charlie Paulk made it to LMU for this one) or Bakersfield Garces could find themselves seeded ahead of the Eagles this time.....Man, what a competitive State tournament it's going to be in this division....And don't forget Oaks Christian either.....

Division IV-AA:  Oaks Christian 70, Crossroads 67 (2OT):  We've been talking about this game since we started writing this, so it's time to put up....And unfortunately, there's no way we can convey just how good this game was, particularly when contrasted with the games which preceded it, but Oaks Christian, which has only been open as a school for three years, and which has only played varsity basketball for two seasons, pulled off a remarkable feat, beating Crossroads, a traditionally and perenially strong team, by winning its first ever CIF-SS championship.  This game had it all:  Packed house, large numbers of fans for both teams.  Great student rooting sections.   Cheerleaders.  Coaching contrasts, both in terms of style of coaching, with Darryl Roper, the longtime Crossroads coach, so animated and theatrical on one bench,   and Gary Abraham, the second-year coach of the Lions,  doing his best Doug Mitchell imitation (khaki pants and all), studiously switching between man-to-man and a 1-3-1 defense which just seemed to have the Crossroads guys falling all over themselves at times, and clogging up the middle sufficiently that the Roadrunners were forced to shoot it from three point range more often than they initially seemed comfortable with....until they started hitting them that is.  

Before we lose our train of thought or get too far into the details, we want to single out some players who performed great.  For Oaks Christian, everyone has read about Mike Hornbuckle, the Lions' leading scorer this season.   Mike finished with 16 points tonight on 7-11 shooting before fouling out on a very questionable call late in the fourth.  People have read about Aron Cline, a 6'-1" Sr. G who transferred from Alemany to attend Oaks Christian when the school opened up.  Aron finished with 19 points on 7-16 shooting from the field and 6 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime period.  Some may have even read or heard about guys like Craig Adams who had 9 points tonight, or  Craig Adams who finished with 7.

matthornbuckle.jpg (13456 bytes)But one guy many people haven't read about or perhaps even seen is Mike's younger brother, Matt Hornbuckle, a 6'-2" freshman combo forward-guard [pictured at left], who finished with 14 points.... Ok, so what's the big deal about 14 points?   In this case, it was the timing of those 14 points,  the way in which the young Hornbuckle got them, including some very key drives and scores during the tightest parts of the game, all of which has us convinced that this young man has a serious chance to be very, very good.  How good?  Well, he's only a freshman, so a lot will happen in the next three years, but he's already quick, smart, and on a team that plays extremely well-disciplined ball, well-coached, and we understand he's an incredibly hardworking young man.  And tonight, he came up big, with the big drives when his team needed them and when it's two leaders, his brother Mike and Aron Cline were already out of the game.  Oh, and Matt played virtually turnover-free ball (just one turnover in 40 minutes), he moved the ball well, and finished at the basket on just about every drive or shot he took.   In short, he's a very heady, smart player, who literally pulled his team together when it counted,  and took the big shots which required guts and determination had they been attempted by a senior under these conditions....for a freshman, well, it was a very impressive showing.

For Crossroads, there were also some bright spots, and in all fairness, this game did come down to double overtime, and hence, it really was just about anyone's game for the last 12 minutes, and Crossroads could have pulled this one off had things just worked out slightly differently....A turnover here, a missed shot there, a steal by Oaks, a silly call by one of the refs (yes, there was one ref who sort of took over the game in the last couple of minutes, and he had three fairly terrible calls in succession,  including a game changing defensive foul on Mike Hornbuckle, his 5th, which should have been a charge, followed by a five-second count on Aron Cline, which was probably the quickest closely guarded call we've seen all year, followed by an "over and back" turnover assessed against Oaks Christian late in the first overtime.... each of these calls actually changed the game drastically for both teams....but enough about this ref and his silly calls).   For Crossroads, as we said, there were some definite bright spots:   Robert Locke played well for Crossroads, and the game actually came down to the final possession for Crossroads, which ultimately was resolved by a turnover when a pass to Locke for the last shot sailed over his head and out of bounds.  Still, Locke scored a game-high 25 points on 12-22 shooting from the field, with 3 assists, but seven turnovers.   The only other Crossroads player to hit double figures was Brandon Browning who scored 11.  Steven Ojo had 8, as did Robert Reynods and Mitchel Yoshitake. Nick Wong finished with 5.   

It's actually getting too late for us to finish describing what happened in this one.  Suffice it to say, there were at least a dozen lead changes in the fourth quarter  and the two overtime periods.  Great game.   We'll post the full box up tomorrow.  For now it's off to get some sleep before tomorrow's games (which are now actually today's games....).

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