Championship Weekend: Ten Best

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 03/8/18 1:08 PM

Six teams hoisted championships in San Diego this weekend, as the postseason moves into state playoffs play.

Mission Bay, Santa Fe Christian, Francis Parker, Mount Miguel, San Diego and San Diego Southwest clinched championships and state playoffs berths. But which players impressed us over the three game span?

This is the first of two “Ten Best” reports, in which we give you the our best performers from the weekend that was.

Championship Weekend: Ten Best

The Mount Miguel Matadors won a 79-76 3OT thriller over Carlsbad in the Division 3 Title Game, the game of the weekend

Best Game: Mount Miguel vs Carlsbad, Division 3 Championship

Was this ever in doubt? The Matadors and Lancers gave fans at San Marcos High a game for the ages, with Mount Miguel winning 79-76 in TRIPLE OVERTIME.

Both teams traded leads throughout regulation and overtime, but it was Mount Miguel, which overcame attrition (three of its top players fouled out) and a blown opportunity in the second overtime, that prevailed in the most satisfying conclusion to a section title game in recent memory.

Daron Traylor cemented himself as an unsigned sleeper with his big performance, and James Allen, Justice Chima and Mikeece Dunbar all had huge moments in the final overtime. For Carlsbad, juniors Carter Plousha and Brogan Pietrocini and senior forward Isaiah Ramos made big play after big play to keep the title hopes alive.

Most Dominant Performance: 2019 Francis Parker F Matt Bender

This could have easily gone to his teammate, Kimo Ferrari (more about him later), but the 6-8 big man was absolutely dominant for Parker in their surprising rout of Christian in the Division 2 finals.

Bender feasted on the Patriots long, but slight frontcourt, scoring with either hand and hitting his jump hook with regularity. He finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds and controlled the paint on both ends.

Best Shooting performance: 2019 Mission Bay PG Boogie Ellis

Boogie Ellis hit 4 threes in the first quarter to set the tone for Mission Bay in the Open Division title game

Ellis came out and set the tone for Mission Bay, which found themselves suddenly as favorites after Foothills Christian’s top player, Taeshon Cherry, ended his career the night before the Open Division finals.

The 6-2 point guard hit four three pointers in a first quarter in which he scored 14 of his 16 points.

That hot shooting start gave Mission Bay the cushion with which it played the rest of the game.

Most Clutch performance: 2018 F Justice Chima, Mt Miguel

Typically when you think of clutch performances, you think of a big shot. Chima, however, gets it for his timely rebounding and hustle for the Matadors in the triple-OT win over Carlsbad. He finished with 17 points (an efficient 7-10 FG) and 10 rebounds, none bigger than his board that put him at the line for the game-sealing free throw.

Not bad for a 6-2 glue guy.

Best defensive performance: 2019 Carlsbad G Carter Plousha

Mount Miguel’s perimeter trio of James Allen, Daron Traylor and Mikeece Dunbar went a combined 15-52 in the OT win, and Plousha, a 6-5 wing, was a big reason. Plousha is one of the best two-way guards in San Diego’s 2019 class, and he’s also the focal point of the Lancers offense. He expends a ton of energy as a result, but he gets after it on the defensive end, using his length, quick feet and anticipation to make it difficult for guards to penetrate, and his length allows him to contest shots.

Best point guard performance: 2020 Francis Parker PG Kimo Ferrari

Ferrari was dazzling in the Parker win over Christian. He played with excellent pace, did not get sped up, and did as good of a job as can be expected on defense against a very good point guard in Nashom Carter. He took over the fourth quarter for the Lancers. After sitting for most of the third quarter with foul trouble, he re-entered the game and quickly rattled off eight straight points to close the door on the Patriots.

Ferrari finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and, most importantly, zero turnovers.

Most Surprising Performance: 2018 Santa Fe Christian F Matt Stevenson

Stevenson has had two of the best championship game performances in consecutive years, so it’s not a surprise that he played well in the game. But what was a surprise was how he did it. Stevenson, who missed two games due to a concussion, only had three points at halftime with the Eagles clinging to a 1-point lead in their Division 1 title game against El Camino.

Then, Stevenson exploded.

He started the third quarter scoring eight straight (all layups) and finished scoring 21 points in the second half and a game-high 24 points. The offensive explosion turned a close game into a comfortable Eagles win.

Best Freshman Performance: 2021 Francis Parker G Daryl Sledge

You don’t expect a freshman to come out and score his team’s first 8 points, but that is exactly what Sledge, a 5-11 shooting guard, did for the Lancers.

Sledge finished the first quarter with 13 points, not hitting rim on any of his three three-point attempts. The stunned Patriots never recovered.

Sledge, who has impeccable and repeatable shooting mechanics, didn’t score the rest of the game, but the offensive punch was exactly what Parker needed to jump start its rout.

Gutsiest Performance: 2020 Foothills Christian PG Yassine Gharram

2020 Foothills Christian PG Yassine Gharram notched 17 points and 12 rebounds in the Open Division title game

Without Taeshon Cherry, Foothills Christian could have come out and accepted a loss as inevitable, but to their credit, the Knights didn’t. Gharram, a 6-2 point guard, embodied that grit.

Leaving the game literally bleeding, Gharram scored a game-high 17 points and collected 12 rebounds and led a brief comeback in the second half that saw the Knights cut the lead to five. Known as a facilitator, Gharram attacked repeatedly off the dribble and scored through contact or drew fouls on the Bucs defenders.

Best rebounding performance: 2019 Mission Bay C Ronnie Latting

Latting, a 6-7 behemoth, was saddled for much of the game with foul trouble. But when he was in, he dominated the paint for the Bucs. His 11 rebounds were impressive considering he played only 20 minutes.

Latting gives the Bucs a fighter’s chance against bigger teams because he is able to dominate both offensive and defensive boards with his brute strength and boxing-out fundamentals.