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March 29, 2014

Crusaders, Panthers triumph

Modesto Christian and Pinewood won Division III and Division V state titles respectively on Friday and they might be poised for another run next year.

Pleasant Grove's run as an 11 seed came to an end on Friday night in a 56-30 loss to Canyon Springs. It was the Eagles' first state title game appearance and first state title for Canyon Springs. San Diego State bound Cheyenne Greenhouse had 24 points and eight rebounds in the win.

The game was closely contested early with both teams struggling on offense. They combined to shoot 12-for-55 in the first half, but an 8-0 run by Pleasant Grove got the Eagles back in the game for a 21-15 halftime deficit. The Canyons extended its lead to 29-18 less than three minutes into the second half and Pleasant Grove didn't challenge the rest of the night. It trailed 40-23 after three quarters en route to a 26 point loss.

"I felt our shot wasn't falling in the first half," Pleasant Grove head coach James McKeever said. "By the time we were able to figure (Canyon Springs' pressure) out, they had stretched out their lead."

Charnea Johnson Chapman had 10 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks for Canyon Springs. Kimari Hollis added 12 points. For Pleasant Grove, Brittany Nguyen had eight points and Aaliyah Pena had six points and seven rebounds. Dominique Buckor had three points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Size, depth land Crusaders first state title

"Third times the charm," Modesto Christian head coach Robb Spencer said.

After falling in two previous state finals, Modesto Christian beat Santa Barbara 64-55 for the program's first state title.

Modesto Christian was a plus 27 in the rebounding department in using its size and strength to overcome the perimeter attack of Santa Barbara. Lexi Tubbs (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Lailoni Gaines (10 points, 12 rebounds) compiled double-doubles. This all came despite post Jasmine Hampton being limited to 11 minutes with foul trouble.

"That's what I stressed," Spencer said of the rebounding. "I knew for a change we'd be a bigger and stronger team. It eventually wore them down."

The strength and the depth of the Crusaders paid off late in the third quarter on a 7-0 run. Five points from freshman Meagan Warwick and two from Viviana Vasquez pushed a two point lead to a 44-35 advantage. The Crusaders then scored the first five points in the fourth quarter to push the advantage to double figures.

The game was never in serious doubt the rest of the way, but Santa Barbara sophomore Amber Melgoza tried to make it interesting at the end. She finished with 30 points on 20-for-28 from the foul line. The foul shooting set a state record and the 30 points tied for most in the Division III game with St. Mary's-Stockton great Jackie Gemelos.

"That's our 10th straight playoff game. That's a lot of games and a little bit of travel," Santa Barbara head coach Andrew Butcher said. "We are really excited about how far we went."

While Modesto Christian graduates two senior starters in Tubbs and Hampton, the future is bright. Three underclassmen start (Meagan Warwick, Stephanie Moore and Gaines) and a fourth gets major minutes off the bench (Nicole Warwick). The Crusaders will also have a full year of 2015 point guard Candice White

"They are special. They have been in these moments before (during the summer)," Spencer said of his young talent. "I can't say enough about them."

Pinewood gets 6th title in impressive fashion

Since the start of basketball season, Pinewood would start weekend practices at 10:00 AM. Taking the floor at 10:00 AM on Friday for the Division V state title, the Panthers were more than ready for the stage with a 60-42 win over La Jolla Country Day. It is head coach Doc Scheppler and the program's sixth state title.

"That was an awesome performance," Scheppler said. "Playing your best game in the biggest game is an awesome experience."

The Panthers were good from the get go using a 9-1 run to end the first quarter for a 15-6 lead. They blew the game open by scoring 17 of the first 20 points in the second quarter. Pinewood eventually led 39-13 and forced 18 first half turnovers from La Jolla Country Day.

"Pinewood has high IQ basketball kids. They are very well coached and their kids did a really good job," La Jolla Country Day head coach Terri Bamford said. "(The first half) was not characteristic of how we play. We had uncharacteristic turnovers."

"Their execution of our sets was flawless," Scheppler said of his Panthers.

The second half was for semantics as the lead never got less than 18 points. Marissa Hing had 17 points on 13-for-16 from the foul line. Leeana Bade and Gabi Bade each had 13 points and Chloe Eackles had 10 points.

With back-to-back state titles in 2005-2006 and 2010-2011, Pinewood is primed for a legitimate run at a third back-to-back run. The Panthers have only one senior as a key contributor (Leeana Bade) and are in line to get 2015 post NiaJai Craig after she sat out the year as a transfer.

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