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SoCalHoops High School News

Boys' State Finals: D-II--Riverside MLK v.
Mtn. View St. Francis--(Mar. 22, 2002)

cif1.h2.jpg (7564 bytes) What:   Division II State Finals
Who:   Riverside ML King (30-4) vs. Mountain View St. Francis (25-8)
Site:   ARCO Arena, Sacramento, 8 p.m.
TV/Radio:   none has a sort of mini-preview of the Division II game (along with the other games), and Mark Tennis, who has been at the prep scene a long time, picks King to beat St. Francis by a score of 74-67.  Given our own NCAA track record recently (really, who thought Duke would lose to Indiana???), we've given up trying to predict who is going to win these things, and we'll just enjoy the game, no matter who wins or loses.

We don't have time to do complete updates or post complete rosters, so we'll just pass along what we've found on the game from those who are paid to write about this one....The Riverside Press-Enterprise and the LA Times are the two principal sources of info, and we've managed to find some local NorCal stuff about Mtn. View St. Francis....although anyone familiar with David Chiotti who signed with New Mexico earlier this fall won't really need to read what follows (interesting side that Fran Fraschilla has been terminated/resigned at New Mexico, questions have arisen about whether Chiotti will try to get out of his NLI...our sources tell us that he will still go to New Mexico anyway.)

In any event, here's a brief "update" on each of the teams as posted in the Press-Enterprise today:

King update: With senior guards Marvin Lea and Leon Rosborough, the Wolves have a powerful backcourt. Lea (25 points, 6 rebounds per game) drives the lane well. With his speed and reflexes, he can find open holes in a defense. . . . Rosborough (16 points per game, 6 rebounds per game) is a hot-and-cold shooter, but he made 15 of 15 free throws in a playoff game against Santa Barbara San Marcos. . . . Sophomore Matt Thomas is King's guard of the future and is providing solid defense now. . . . Rosborough said he'll be matched up against guard John Montgomery.

St. Francis update: New Mexico-bound center David Chiotti (15 points per game) is 6-foot-9 -- at least four inches taller than anyone on King's roster. But the rest of St. Francis's roster is smaller than most of King's players. . . . Guard John Montgomery (15 points and 10 rebounds in the Northern California Regional final) is the son of Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery. . . . Lancers coach Steve Filios said he likes to keep his defenses simple with basic man-to-man and zone formations. . . . St. Francis made seven of its 15 three-point shots in the Northern California Regional final. . . . The Lancers average 65 points per game.

The Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch also had a nice preview of Riverside MLK and its prospects for the game.  Here's Ben's story

LA Times on Riverside MLK:
Cry of the Wolves: Citrus, Altius, Fortius
Prep basketball: From out of the orange groves, Riverside King soars higher and plays stronger than anyone expected.


Forget about the housing developments still taking shape across the street. Basketball is the new growth industry at Riverside King High, and business is booming.

Led by a flashy guard who looks as if he is part of an ABA time warp and a wiry forward who plays bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame, King is on the verge of history in only its second year of varsity basketball.

The Wolves could become the first Riverside County boys' basketball team to win a state title when they play Mountain View St. Francis at 8 tonight at Arco Arena in Sacramento. "What a dream," Coach Tim Sweeney Jr. said. "I mean, how many coaches get to play for a [Southern Section] championship, let alone a state championship, with their first senior class?"

For Marvin Lea, the senior who wears his socks to his knees and his Afro into the stratosphere in a tribute to old-school basketball players such as Julius Erving, tonight's game is about more than a championship plaque. It's about putting basketball on the map in a part of town known for producing oranges.

"It's real important to me," said Lea, who grew up in Riverside with a finger on the pulse of the basketball community. "Everywhere I go, people say, 'Well, you're doing all that in Riverside. But can you come to L.A. and do it? Can you come to Orange County and do it?'

"I'm saying we have just as big ballplayers out here, we just haven't had the same recognition as everyone else. It's time we get our due."

Respect may take time, but Lea and his classmates are learning that with winning come more immediate privileges. Lea got out of class Wednesday to meet with Pepperdine Coach Paul Westphal, among a growing number of college coaches whose interest in the 6-3 guard has increased with each of the Wolves' playoff victories. And all King students will receive get-out-of-school-free cards this morning at 11 so they have the option of making the 450-mile trip to Sacramento.

Senior forward Leon Rosborough, who has played Robin to Lea's Batman during this most unexpected season, said the Wolves (30-4) are treating their journey north to play St. Francis (25-8) like a business trip.

"If we win this game," Rosborough said, "it will really tell people that we're the real deal."

Many observers are already convinced after watching King rally from a five-point halftime deficit last weekend to defeat four-time state champion Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Southern California Regional final. Lea scored a game-high 28 points and Rosborough added 13 as the Wolves built a slim lead and then buried the Monarchs down the stretch in an avalanche of free throws.

Lea and Rosborough have formed quite a duo since arriving at King two years ago, Lea from Riverside Poly and Rosborough from Moreno Valley Canyon Springs. Lea came because his sister Markisha had attended King since it opened a year earlier on a patch of land surrounded on three sides by orange groves. Rosborough came at the urging of Lea, who figured the two might be able to make their marks on a program in its infancy.

"All of a sudden I looked up and found we had a pretty good one-two punch," Sweeney said.

King reached the Southern Section Division III-AA quarterfinals in its first varsity season--a remarkable achievement by any measure--but Sweeney noticed that his players relied too much on Lea to carry the scoring load and take the last-second shots.

That changed this season with the emergence of Rosborough and the development of role players such as Garrett Hilt and Bret Goodman, the only remaining holdover from the junior varsity team of three years ago. Lea's scoring average has actually dipped, to 26 points, while Rosborough's average has increased to 16 points.

"Leon's my ace on the court," Lea said. "If two people are double-teaming me, I know he's going to hit that big three or get that big-time rebound and lay it up. I know with him on the court, we'll be OK."

Three weeks ago, Lea and Rosborough led King to the Division II-A final at the Arrowhead Pond, where it lost to Redondo Union on Wendell White's off-balance three-pointer shortly before the buzzer. But the Wolves avenged the defeat a week later by beating Redondo in a regional semifinal after Lea poured in 11 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter. The victories over Redondo and Mater Dei have given way to some dizzying times on campus, where the school could unfurl a state championship banner more than a year before its first four-year seniors graduate.

Said Rosborough: "It's really like I'm in a dream now, soaking in all this energy everybody is giving us."

Final step awaits Riverside King
TITLE GAME: It's the first Riverside County team to play for a boys' state crown
since 1982.

After exceeding expectations all season, the Riverside King boys' basketball team has only one more mountain to climb. 

Tonight King, in its second season of varsity play, will face Mountain View St. Francis for the Division 2 state title at ARCO Arena in Sacramento.  

King is the first Riverside County boys' basketball team to play for a state title since Banning lost to San Anselmo Drake in 1982. 

St. Francis (25-8), the back-to-back Northern California champion, lost last year's state title game to Compton Dominguez. This season St. Francis had one player kicked off the team, and its leading scorer, David Chiotti, was suspended for three games. 

Three of St. Francis's eight losses came when guard Hakeem Gilliard was out with an injury. Gilliard, a 5-foot-7 speedster, gives the Lancers the ability to run the court and is a superior ball handler. 

"We try to be a balanced team," Lancers coach Steve Filios said. "I like to think that we play a good half-court offense. If we need to get up and down the court, we can." 

Chiotti scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Lancers defeated Sacramento Rio Americano in the Northern California Regional final. Filios said Chiotti is a good outside shooter and athletic for his size.

"We look for him, because he can create offense by shooting or passing," Filios said. 

King (30-4) is led by senior guards Marvin Lea and Leon Rosborough. Lea, who usually plays point guard, is the penetrator and leaper whose moves inside the key are tough to stop. 

Santa Ana Mater Dei was effective against Lea in the first half of the Southern California Regional final by forcing the left-handed guard to go right. But King's halftime adjustments got Lea the ball before defenders could brace themselves, and Lea scored 25 points in the second half. 

Rosborough can play inside and out and is dangerous when he finds his shooter's touch. He had 13 points and 10 rebounds against Mater Dei.  But the key for King is its defense. King's pressing, tenacious defense induced Mater Dei to turn the ball over 21 times. 

For the unflappable Wolves to finish the season as state champions, they need to hamper Gilliard or Chiotti to try to take away the Lancers' inside-outside game. 

And finally, here's the local view of St. Francis from the Los Altos Town Crier, the local newspaper for the Mountain View region up in Santa Clara County (unbelievably, bigger local papers, like the San Jose Mercury News don't feature anything about high school sports any longer, at least not online).  This is really more of a recap of the NorCal finals, but it's better than nothing at this point.

St. Francis headed to state championship game
Behind strong start, Lancers rout Rio Americano in NorCal final
By Pete Borello
Town Crier Staff Writer

As the top seed, St. Francis High was designated the home team for last Saturday's Northern California Division II boys basketball final. Yet the site of the final - the UC Davis Rec Hall - practically made it a home game for third-seeded Rio Americano, which brought a large and loud contingent of fans from nearby Sacramento. The Lancers seemed to revel in playing in the hostile environment, though, sending the Raiders and Company home with a 66-46 loss.

"We were aggressive from the start," said St. Francis coach Steve Filios, whose team will play for the state championship Friday. "We played with positive energy to set a tone: we're near your home territory and we're going to establish the fact that we'll be aggressive in our nature and not play passive basketball."

The Lancers opened the game with a 15-2 run that featured baskets on six straight possessions and a five-minute stretch where they held Rio scoreless. St. Francis (25-8) led 19-9 by the end of the quarter, having made nine of its 15 shots. "We attacked their zone aggressively," Filios said. "We went right at it." The Raiders (28-5) had no answer for David Chiotti, the Lancers' 6-foot-9 center, who scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the period. Two of his baskets came on slam dunks, including an alley oop from point guard Hakeem Gilliard.

Chiotti got in foul trouble in the second quarter, picking up his third at the 1:43 mark, and Rio took advantage by going inside. The Raiders outscored the Lancers 13-10 in the quarter to pull within 29-22 at the break. St. Francis regained control in the third with a 19-15 run. Seven players scored for the Lancers in the quarter, led by guard David Velasquez's five points. "We came out aggressive again," Filios said. "We maintained the lead and answered back when they scored."

The Lancers opened the fourth by scoring eight unanswered points for an overwhelming 56-37 advantage. Gilliard and John Montgomery started the spurt with three-pointers. Guard Montgomery finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Gilliard recorded 12 points, six assists and five steals. St. Francis shot 50 percent from the field and made seven of its 13 three-point tries. The Lancers' pressure defense contributed to the Raiders' 35.8 percent shooting and 21 turnovers.

St. Francis will hope for a similar performance at 8 p.m., Friday, in the state title game at Sacramento's Arco Arena. The Lancers will face Southern California champion Martin Luther King (30-4) of Riverside.

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