March 17, 2017
Long Beach Pyramid Games
CIF Southern California Regional Basketball Championships
Popscout takes a look at a few barn-burners.
Girls Open Division Final
Windward (25-3) vs Clovis West (32-3)
Having seen Windward in a slew of games this season and not having the opportunity to get a look at Clovis West, is a bit disappointing. We do know that Clovis West was able to knock off Harvard Westlake by the score of 46-45 to advance in Open Division play. Taking care of business against the wonder twin powers of Harvard Westlake’s Jayla and Jayda Rufus-Milner is never an easy task, especially on a big stage such as the CIF State playoffs. That victory speaks volumes, letting Windward know they’re in for a tough challenge and possibly the game of the season. Look for Jr. All American Charisma Osborne and co. to be up for the challenge. Whenever the going gets tough, this young lady gets going, catapulting her team to victory.
Windward hopes a balanced schedule and not burning out their team with excessive early season tourney/holiday games, will allow them to be the fresher squad against Clovis West, who’ve logged 35 games vs. Windward’s 28. Fresh legs you feel me.
Open Division Boys
Etiwanda (30-3) vs Sierra Canyon (25-4)
Big boys on a big state. Etiwanda has been stout all season long. Showing a defensive presence and smothering offensive attack that’s allowed them to take their game to the next level. The Eagles have been known for its defensive prowess in years past. This season is no different. They seem to take the challenge on the defensive end of the court personally. Against star- studded Sierra Canyon, they must come in with a chip on their shoulder, ready to show and prove. Popscout doesn’t think it’s enough. We feel as though the Trailblazers have found their niche. Knocking off Bishop Montgomery twice in one season on the biggest stage, was impressive. Because of this, Sierra Canyon will continue its reign all the way to a State Final.
Ribet Academy (28-5) vs Serra (Gardena) (23-8)
Girls DI So Cal Regional Final
This should be a great match-up between two teams who make their living, for the most part, in the paint. Ribet Academy boasts two Forwards who’ll be making noise at the D1 level next season. 6’9 Senior Andrea Aquino (Oregon State commit) provides enough inside big-body presence to be effective for the Fighting Frogs. We’re a bit disappointed over her development this season. Would like to have seen much more evolution of her game under the tutelage of The Fighting Frogs’ coaching staff and player development personnel. She’s still active enough to make a huge difference on both ends of the floor and should be the X-factor in deciding this contest.
6’3 Senior Forward Lola Pendande (Utah commit) is active around the paint, scoring from mid range with enough confidence to pull the trigger on her jumper. She hits the boards well on the offensive/defensive end of the court and runs the floor well, providing her guards an opportunity to drop some dimes. Players such as Long Beach State commit Justina King, who leads her team with poise and confidence, benefits from Lola’s high energy and ability to run the court and finish.
Serra has some of the most skilled forwards that will give The Fighting Frogs a run for their money. 5’11 W Alexis Tucker is a stud and rated the #46 player in her class by ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. She brings the two S’s – swag and stability – for the Lady Cavaliers who look to push the rock with a balance offensive attack from inside the paint and beyond the arc. This should be an up and down contest with the end result coming down to who has enough gas left in their tank. It’s been a long season and those who want it the most will step up and out, taking their club to Sacramento for next weeks’ State Final.
D1 Boys So Cal Regional Championship
Chino Hills (24-11) vs St. John Bosco (25-7) 2pm
Chino Hills is back at it, making noise during CIF State play. Big O has carried his team on its back for the majority of the season. With the help of his back-court running mates and Sr. forward Andre ball, the Huskies look to advance to next weeks Division I Championship game. St. John Bosco has used the mantra ‘next man up’ very well, losing one of its star pieces early on in the season.
Head Coach Matt Dunn (up for the Popscout Coach of the Year Award) does an extraordinary job getting his team to compete at a high level. The Braves knocked off Rancho Christian Tuesday (3/13) in convincing fashion (71-54) and in doing so, silenced the Twin Towers of the Mobley Brothers. Nice. Facing Chino Hills, it’s going to be a tall order to fill, handling the athleticism and activity from Onyeka Okongwu and others who keep the pressure on by pushing the rock and exposing weaknesses in opposing teams’ defenses. Chino Hills first year head coach Dennis Lattimore is hoping he’s pushed all the right buttons this season (on and off the court), hoping his team has what it takes to advance.
St. John Bosco
Crossroads vs Birmingham
This is must see TV. Baby Shaq (UCLA commit Shareef O’Neal) completes his home court high school career with a chance to advance to the State Final. Birmingham has weathered the storm and finds itself sitting pretty, still playing during high school March Madness. We love the style of play from Birmingham’s squad. Coach Nicholas Halic allows his players to play by empowering them so that everyone contributes and no one plays like a robot.
The fact that Birmingham has experienced some big time wins lately, should play huge dividends for a City section team looking to keep the CIF LA City Section on the map. Crossroads may be a little bit too much battle tested this season for Birmingham. We had a chance to see Crossroads play during the 2017 Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. And although they didn’t have a stellar tourney in terms of wins, they were able to play against stiffer competition, taking those bumps and bruises and apply it to future games.
Tomorrow (March 17, 6pm @ Crossroads High) may be one of those games where Crossroads can become special by pulling from past experiences. Look for Sr. PG DJ Houston to be an x-factor against the back-court of Birmingham. This kid is a lock for a D1 offer when its all said and done. This one may go down to the wire, giving coaches a chance to step up and draw something up. O Yeah!
Other Championship Games on tap:
Bishop Amat vs Notre Dame @ Riverside CC 6pm
Van Nuys vs Santa Clarita Christian @ Masters University 6pm
Mater Dei Catholic vs Sunny Hills 6pm
Rolling Hills Prep vs Knight 6pm
San Marcos vs Redondo Union 6pm
Hueneme vs Sierra Pacific