CIF State Southern Regional Finals capsules and predictions
There are few secrets when it comes to the 2016 CIF State Southern Regional Finals. All six of the championship games slated for Saturday feature match-ups which have already occurred if not once, but multiple times this season. In the Open, Chino Hills beat Bishop Montgomery, 71-67, on Jan. 30 in the Fairfax State Preview. In Division I, Crespi beat Redondo, 89-71, in the CIF-SS Open Division consolation finals on March 3. The Division II game is a rematch of the CIF-SS Division 1AA finals where J.W. North beat Long Beach Poly, 61-58. Division III brings together league rivals in Ayala and Bonita. The two split their Palomares meetings and shared the league title. Harvard-Westlake and Viewpoint, the Division IV finalists, met earlier this season in the Joe Frazier Thanksgiving Classic, which resulted in a 73-55 Viewpoint win. And finally, Division V is a repeat of the CIF-SS Division 5A championship game between Rancho Christian and St. Bernard. Rancho Christian won that tilt, 73-57. The Open and Division's I and II will be played at The Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State, while the rest of the boys games will be at Colony High in Ontario. Open Division Who: Chino Hills (33-0) vs. Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-2) When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Where: Long Beach State How they got here: The CIF-SS Open Division champion and top-seeded Huskies defeated Reedley Immanuel and El Cajon Foothills Christian to advance to the Southern Regional final. The third seeded Knights beat L.A. Westchester and San Diego Cathedral Catholic en route to Saturday’s Regional final. How Chino Hills wins: It’s impossible to dissect the Huskies. Do they take bad shots? Yes. Do they roll the dice while in foul trouble? Yes. Have those things resulted in them losing a game this year? Nope. Case in point: The Ball Brothers combined to shoot 17 of 57 from the field in the Open semifinals against Foothills Christian and still won by 20. A lot of attention is paid to Gelo, Melo and Zo, but Onyeka Okongwu and Elizjah Scott have been crucial pieces to this teams success.
The play of Bishop Montgomery junior SG Ethan Thompson will be a key factor in the outcome of the Open Division Regional Final. How Bishop Montgomery wins: Try and turn in a similar performance to that of a four-point loss to Chino Hills back on Jan. 30 at the Fairfax State Preview. A combination of the Knights physical, ball-hawking defense and some missed shots that Lonzo Ball normally makes held the Naismith Player of the Year to 2 of 21 shooting that night. Bishop Montgomery can’t expect Zo to relive what he coined “the worst game of his life,” so Ethan Thompson, Jordan Schakel, David Singleton & Co. must be locked-in from start-to-finish. Winner: Chino Hills Division I Who: Encino Crespi (31-4) vs. Redondo Union (27-6) When: Saturday, 3 p.m. Where: Long Beach State How they got here: Top-seeded Crespi defeated L.A. Dorsey, Inglewood and San Diego St. Augustine to reach the D1 title game. Redondo Union, the No. 2 seed, beat Fresno Clovis North, Lake Balboa Birmingham and Harbor City Narbonne to advance to the D1 Regional Championship. How Crespi wins: The name of this game will be guard-play. The Celts have two of the best in Southern California at the position in USC-bound De’Anthony Melton and sophomore Brandon Williams. Sophomore Taj Regans and junior Billy Oxley are both key perimeter players for Crespi. Regans scored 25, Melton 24 and Williams 21 in the Celts 89-71 win over Redondo back on March 3 in the CIF-SS Open Division consolation championship game.
Crespi sophomore Brandon Williams scored 21 points against Redondo in the Open Division consolation finals. How Redondo wins: The Sea Hawks gave up a combined 70 points to Crespi’s guard trio of Melton, Williams and Regans in an 18-point Open Division consolation championship loss. Redondo needs to keep at least one of those three in check if it wants to earn a trip to Sacramento for the State Finals. Winner: Crespi Division II Who: Long Beach Poly (23-10) vs. Riverside J.W. North (30-4) When: Saturday, 11 a.m. Where: Long Beach State How they got here: Poly beat Lemoore, Woodland Hills El Camino Real and Los Alamitos to advance to the D2 Regional Final. North defeated Bakersfield Ridgeview, Temecula Valley and Orange Lutheran to set up a rematch with Poly in the Southern Regional Final. How Poly wins: The Jackrabbits lost to North, 61-58, in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship a few weeks ago at Honda Center. As I wrote then, the three-point difference on the scoreboard was decided by the all-important 3-point shot. Poly was 2 of 13 from behind the arc in that game and a similar 3-point shooting performance could sink the Jackrabbits a second time. Poly has been getting solid performances throughout the state playoffs from guard Drew Buggs who missed a majority of the regular season with a knee injury. Buggs scored 16 points in the Regional Semi win over Los Alamitos and looked much more healthy than he did at Honda Center.
Percentages say Poly sophomore Darryl Polk is one of the Jackrabbits best 3-point shooters. LBP will need Polk to produce on Saturday. How North wins: The Huskies have been winning the old school way: Defense, toughness and a balanced offensive attack. The guard-play of UC Riverside-signee DK Martin, C.J. Clark and under-recruited combo guard Deshaun Highler has been key, but the big man trio of Christian Gray, Cameron Nunley and Ronald McQuay has been devastating both defensively and on the glass. Winner: J.W. North (in another nut-cutter) Division III Who: Chino Hills Ayala (32-3) vs. La Verne Bonita (28-6) When: Saturday, 8 p.m. Where: Colony High in Ontario How they got here: Ayala is the No. 1 seed in Division III and beat Bakersfield West, Newhall Hart and Oak Park to reach the Southern Regional Finals. Bonita, the six-seed, defeated La Jolla Country Day, Santa Barbara and Calabasas en route to a rematch with Ayala. How Ayala wins: No two teams know one another better than Ayala and Bonita who are Palomares League rivals. They split the two meetings in league with the second game - an 81-80 Bonita win in overtime - being the one that kept Ayala out of the Open Division for the Southern Section playoffs. Ayala has been rolling throughout the postseason and likely know how to beat Bonita much better than I do.
Ayala F John Edgar has put his talents on display all season long. The Bulldogs will need him at his best to move on to the State Finals. How Bonita wins: Keep doing whatever it is that got it to this point. The Bearcats scored an upset over third-seeded Santa Barbara en route to their appearance in the Southern Regional Final. As mentioned above, Bonita has played Ayala twice this season - losing once by 16 and winning in OT by 1 - and round could be a good one. Winner: Ayala Division IV Who: Calabasas Viewpoint (29-6) vs. Studio City Harvard-Westlake (25-8) When: Saturday, 4 p.m. Where: Colony High in Ontario How they got here: Viewpoint beat Taft, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Oceanside El Camino to advance to the D4 Regional Finals. Harvard-Westlake defeated Porterville, West Hills Chaminade and Gardena Serra. How Viewpoint wins: The trio of Christian Juzang, Aram Arslanian and Sayo Denloye have led the Patriots to 29 wins, including a CIF-SS Division 4A title, so why go away from that? Defensively, it’s important that Viewpoint not let freshman Cassius Stanley get any momentum-changing dunks, assuming he’s good to go Saturday after missing the last game due to concussion protocol. How Harvard-Westlake wins: Force one of the Viewpoint guards into an inefficient shooting night and keep Arslanian off the the offensive glass. Arslanian is an active rebounder who gets his team a handful of extra possessions every game. Winner: Viewpoint Division V Who: Temecula Rancho Christian (23-11) vs. Playa del Rey St. Bernard (18-16) When: Saturday, 12 p.m. Where: Colony High in Ontario How they got here: Rancho Christian beat San Diego O’Farrell, Altadena Renaissance Academy and San Juan Capistrano Saddleback Valley Christian to reach the D5 Southern Regional Finals. St. Bernard advanced with wins over Fresno Christian, L.A. Price and Santa Maria St. Joseph. How Rancho Christian wins: Do whatever it was that resulted in a 73-57 win over St. Bernard in the CIF-SS Division 5A championship game March 5 at Godinez High. Freshman Isaiah Mobley played huge down the stretch in that contest, while senior Greg Walter and freshman Solomon Davis took the reins of the clutch train in the State Semi win over SVC. How St. Bernard wins: Keep two of the three major Rancho Christian contributors - Trace Redfield, Walter and Mobley - at bay. Those three combined for 42 points and 32 rebounds in the last meeting. Winner: Rancho Christian