Five Takeaways: CIF-SS Open Division Semifinals

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Southern California

Posted On: 02/26/18 12:07 PM

Riverside, Ca. — The CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals Saturday at Cal Baptist University saw both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds fall.

Sierra Canyon defeated top-seed and previously undefeated Bishop Montgomery, 77-74, in a double overtime thriller that saw the Trailblazers blow a 12-point first half lead before surging back and making countless big shots to pull the “upset.”

Duane Washington, Jr. finished with 20 points, while K.J. Martin added 16 points and 21 rebounds and Cassius Stanley had 18 points. Bishop Montgomery’s Gianni Hunt finished with a game-high 26 points.

Third seeded Mater Dei took down No. 2 Etiwanda as senior forward Mike Wang recorded a near triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Senior point guard Spencer Freedman finished with 22 points and five assists. Elijah Harkless led Etiwanda with 23 points and Kessler Edwards added 15.

The Open Division championship game will be played Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State.

Five Takeaways

K.J. Martin has a case for the best rebounder in SoCal

It seems like every time an opponent misses a shot, Martin is skying above the rim to gobble up the board. The 6-foot-7 forward is one of the quickest and most explosive leapers you’ll find anywhere and his ease getting off the floor makes it nearly impossible to keep him off the glass on either end. Martin corralled a game-high 21 rebounds in the win over Bishop Montgomery and a lot of that had to do with his activity in the paint.

Sierra Canyon forward KJ Martin grabbed 21 rebounds in a win over Bishop Montgomery Saturday, showing yet again why he’s one of the best board crashers in all of SoCal.

Duane Washington, Jr. is the most college-ready guard in the area

Washington pulled all the right strings and made numerous big plays for the Trailblazers down the stretch, including a heady decision to run behind the 3-point line after a baseball pass from Stanley to knock down the game-tying 3-pointer in regulation to send the game to overtime. Washington’s high basketball IQ was on display again in the final seconds of the second overtime as the Ohio State-bound guard recognized the three second differential between game and shot clock and realized that the Knights weren’t fouling on the final possession. Washington dribbled the clock down to eight seconds before attacking the basket and finishing the game off with a floater.

Wang, Freedman prove Mater Dei tougher to be beat than some thought

The Mater Dei mystique is still alive and well. While many believed that the Monarchs would struggle a tad bit more than usual with the departures of Bol Bol and P.J. Fuller, Wang and Freedman showed that high-level execution of a game plan can still put a team over the top. The Monarchs picked their spots perfectly in the 10-point victory over Etiwanda, one of the best team defensive squads in the state. When Freedman was doubled at the top of the key, he didn’t force anything, instead he found an open teammate, usually Wang, whom he trusted to make plays, which he did.

Gianni Hunt showed clutch potential

In a game full of clutch shots, the 6-foot-2 junior guard made a handful of them for the Knights in a losing effort. Hunt scored a game-high 26 points and found himself open behind the 3-point line quite often, canning a handful of them late in the fourth quarter and first overtime period. Hunt exited the game with a cramp at the 1:39 mark of the second overtime and Bishop Montgomery’s offense stagnated in its final possessions with him on the sideline.

Etiwanda guard-play was solid, but not quite good enough

The Eagles are loaded with talented guards the likes of Edwards, Harkless, Dylan Gaines, Toby Okwuokei and Krystian Wilson, but the inability to spread the floor from the perimeter was a glaring deficiency in the loss to Mater Dei. Harkless finished tied for game-high honors in scoring with 23 points, Edwards added 15.