Game after game. Year after year. The theory that it is hard to shoot in Sleep Train Arena is bandied about. Monte Vista decided not to pay it any attention. The Mustangs went 11-for-16 from three point range to beat Centennial 66-55 for its first state title.
"We like shooting here," Monte Vista head coach Nick Jones said after his team knocked down 20 triples in the last two games.
Trevor John made five three pointers in the first quarter to help stake the Mustangs to a 20-12 lead after the first quarter. Jones said the early threes from John helped Monte Vista settle into the game. They stretched the lead to 26-13, but a 9-0 Centennial run made it 35-28 at halftime.
Centennial kept the game in single digits for much of the third quarter before Monte Vista ended the quarter on a 12-3 run. With a 51-34 lead heading to the fourth, Monte Vista scored eight of its 15 points from the foul line for the 11 point win.
While Monte Vista had a size advantage, it was the outside shooting which was the difference. The Mustangs made 11 three pointers and outscored Centennial by 27 points from the three point line led by six three pointers for John, which tied the Division I state record. The Cal Poly commit had 23 points and Grant Jackson finished with 12 points. Brendan Pedley had nine points, Spencer Rust had eight points and Rishi Satoor added seven.
"It's special. It still hasn't set in," Jones said of the state title run. "It's a special group of players. The seniors set the tone in the offseason last year. It's been a great group to be around."
Centennial junior Sedrick Barefield had a team high 16 points. Deontae North and Jordan Griffin each had 14 points for Huskies, which finished at 28 percent shooting. Douglas Benton
D5 State Final: St. Joseph Notre Dame 57, Renaissance Academy 32
One year after their harrowing last-second defeat in Sacramento, St. Joseph Notre Dame returned to Sleep Train Arena and left a champion, beating Renaissance Academy 57-32.
The memory was not just something they were reminded about in their head. Head coach Don Lippi chose to make it much, much more tangible by hanging a blown up, framed picture of the defeat in their gym.
"We had the picture of the last shot. Sometimes people thought I was abusive, but we put it on the window. I looked at it every day," Lippi said.
"This morning we took that picture out of that window and we burned it in the garbage can."
Out with the old, in with a win.
The Pilots' zone defense, which Lippi credited to his studying of Syracuse coach Jim Boheim, was hellacious, holding the Wildcats to just 25-percent shooting from the field.
Though, it wasn't just Lippi's match up zone defense-which forced Renaissance scoreless in the second quarter-that held off the Wildcats. Senior and Long Beach State-bound Temidayo Yussuf dominated on both ends.
Yussuf finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds, game highs in both categories.
St. Joe's started the route early, taking a 16-8 lead after one quarter and using their stifling defense, and timely offense, to take a commanding 29-8 lead at the midpoint. From there, the Wildcats had little intimidation left, and the Pilot's lead hovered at or above 20 points for much of the remaining game time.
"I think we were a little tight," said Renaissance Academy coach Sid Cooke of Renaissance. "Once things didn't go well, guys got frustrated.
The win gave the Pilots their fifth CIF title, the most of any Northern California program.
For Yussuf, who could only be described as inconsolable following his junior year's ending, Friday was not only the perfect ending to a high school career, but the truly fitting one.
"When I won my freshman year I wasn't really a big factor. I took it as I didn't really win a state championship," he said. "I knew that coming into this season I had to give it that extra and my team gave it that extra.
"I just knew I wanted to end today with a smile."William Whelan
D3 State Final: Chaminade 71, Sir Francis Drake 51
In their first trip to the state finals for nearly 20 years, Sir Francis Drake was met by a shorthanded-but equally daunting-Chaminade Eagles squad with all the tools for a championship.
Despite their fair share of fight and fortitude it wasn't enough, as they fell 71-51 in the CIF D3 finals.
"The last few weeks have been a great run for us," said coach Doug Donnellan of Drake. "We were hoping to make NorCal's and they took advantage of it, really came together as a team. It was a great experience and one we'll remember for a lifetime."
The perimeter combination of Michael Oguine and Justin Eisen were too much for the overmatched Pirates. Oguine entered the second half having already scored 20 of his team's 35 points. He'd finish the game with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
"[Oguine] plays so much bigger than he is," said (coach). "What impressed me the most is how well he finished around the rim."
The Eagles pulled away in the second quarter, even without big-time shot blocker Trevor Stanback, but a quick 8-2 run from Drake pulled them back within striking distance.
Despite an early run in the third quarter from Chaminade, Drake wasn't done. They again ended a quarter on a run and sliced their 19-point deficit to 55-42. But once again, Chaminade used an early-quarter run to create separation, pushing the lead to 61-42.
From there, it was all a formality. Drake's best efforts went unanswered in their attempt to comeback.
"When they turned us over, they got points," said coach Donnellan of what held his team back. "They're so quick and so athletic and they finish so well. You're forced to go out and pressure the ball, but that plays to their advantage."
According to the Pirates' players, this is just the beginning of a run leading towards next year.
"It really gives us a lot of experience," said Drake's Cade Yongue. William Whelan