10 things to Watch: Boys BB Finals

Douglas Benton, NCP Editor
NorCal Preps
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The North is 1-3 in the Open Division with Bishop O’Dowd’s run in 2015 being the exception. Woodcreek has a Top 10 national prospect in Jordan Brown like Mitty (Aaron Gordon) and Bishop O’Dowd (Ivan Rabb) did in addition to a pair of solid senior guards in Tyrell Roberts and Jackson Hughes. The Timberwolves go into Saturday’s matchup an underdog against Bishop Montgomery and their loaded collection of perimeter talent. Will Woodcreek win its first state title?

Mission, St. Patrick-St. Vincent and St. Francis will be making their first appearances in the state finals with none of the six NorCal entries having a state title on their ledgers. Banners hang forever. Which programs will have their gym walls re-decorated?

Logan has five losses, but three came to teams playing this week (St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Mission and Moreau Catholic). The Colts also lost to Open Division semi-finalist De La Salle and Dublin before winning four NorCal games, including an overtime win over Palo Alto after trailing by 13 in the second half. Logan, along with Moreau Catholic, gives the Mission Valley Athletic League two teams in the state finals.

The story of Mission, the Division III NorCal champion, is one you find in the movie theaters. The Bears have three players averaging double figures led by two-sport star Niamey Harris at 15 point per game. Mission will play Villa Park for the Division III titles after road wins over St. Ignatius and Vanden.

The prep career of four year Moreau Catholic starter Damari Milstead will come to an end on Saturday in the Division II state title games against Esperanza. The Grand Canyon signee has upped his scoring average each season in posting 25 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals per game. He scored 43 points (third game over 40) in the regional finals at St. Francis, Mountain View. He, along with Northern Colorado football signee Jullen Ison, played in the Division IV state finals as freshmen in losing to Bishop Montgomery.

In one of the bigger surprises of the sectional playoffs, St. Patrick-St. Vincent gave up a 10 point fourth quarter lead in losing in overtime to Lick-Wilmerding 71-68. Since then, the Bruins have won four in a row by an average margin of 37 points. This includes a 71-54 win over Lick-Wilmerding and a 73-48 win at Palma. Tavian Henderson had 25 points in the win over the Chieftains.

St. Francis, Watsonville has scored more than 60 points in all seven of its playoff games. The Sharks have won 22 in a row and got 23 points from Chase Watkins in the regional win over Elliot Christian. St. Francis has eight seniors on the roster. Senior Sandor Rene-Rodriguez was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League MVP.

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Under Armour/Kelly Kline

One of the joys of attending the state finals is see some of the top teams and players Southern California has to offer. If you are heading to Golden 1 Center, here are six names to note: Roosevelt’s Matthew Mitchell (Cal State Fullerton) and Jemarl Baker (California), Esperanza’s Kenzie Okpala (Stanford), Helix’s Miles Norris, Bishop Montgomery’s Ethan Thompson (Oregon State) and David Singleton.

A familiar name to the state games will be on the sideline in different colors. Harvey Kitani will lead Rolling Hills Prep in the Division V game against St. Francis, Watsonville. Kitani spent more than 30 years at Fairfax in winning two state titles.

Bishop Montgomery is the leader in the 12 team boys flight with three state titles. A win on Saturday would push them into a tie with Horizon Christian, Stockton and Washington Union at four titles. The Knights previous titles came in 2000 (Division III against Foothill-Pleasanton), 2001 (Division III against Riordan) and 2014 (Division IV against Moreau Catholic).

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