Posted On: 03/2/18 2:20 PM
The CIF-SS boys basketball championship games from the Open Division on down to Division 5AAA will be played over the next two days at various sites across Southern California.
Perhaps the most anticipated match-up is Friday night’s tilt between perennial powerhouse programs Mater Dei and Sierra Canyon.
The Monarchs defeated Etiwanda, 76-66, last Saturday at Cal Baptist to advance to the championship game. The Trailblazers are coming off of an upset of top-seeded Bishop Montgomery, 77-74, in double overtime.
Below is a capsule of storylines to watch for, who to watch and what the keys will be for either side to come away with a victory.
Open Division Capsule
Overall Record: 22-6
League Record: 9-1, Trinity League champions
Top Players: PG Spencer Freedman (6-0, 160, Sr., signed with Harvard); SF Harrison Butler (6-4, 205, Sr., signed with Southern Utah); F Mike Wang (6-9, 215, Sr, signed with UPenn); F Reagan Lundeen (6-5, 200, Sr.); F/C Wilhelm Breidenbach (6-8, 195, Fr.)
Others to Watch: G Devin Askew (6-3, 175, Fr.); G/F Aidan Prukop (6-4, 160, So.); G B.J. Askew (6-0, 175, Sr.)
How They Win: Mater Dei earned its way to this championship game by executing teams to death. The Monarchs have a system in place that plays to the strengths of each of its parts and Freedman makes sure that each of his teammates stays engaged and involved. The Monarchs are comfortable slowing the game down and running its sets in the half-court setting, something Sierra Canyon tries to stay away from, and limiting the Trailblazers’ transition opportunities could be a major factor. Wang came up big for Mater Dei against Etiwanda as the Eagles defense was focused on stopping Freedman at all costs. The 6-9 senior played the game of his life, just missing a triple-double, recording 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. If Wang plays that way again, and Mater Dei can control tempo, the Monarchs could be looking at yet another Southern Section title.
Overall Record: 23-3
League Record: 7-0, Gold Coast League champions
Top Players: PG Duane Washington, Jr. (6-3, 185, Sr., signed with Ohio State); F Kenyon Martin, Jr. (6-6, 195, Jr.); SG Cassius Stanley (6-5, 185, Jr.); G Scotty Pippen, Jr. (6-1, 165, Jr.); F Terren Frank (6-7, 190, So.)
Others to Watch: G/F L Simpson (6-2, 190, Jr.): G Adili Kuerban (6-3, 185, Sr.); G Will Washington (6-0, 160, Sr.)
How They Win: Sierra Canyon has to make Mater Dei play its tempo, which is much easier said than done. One of the major factors that favors the Trailblazers is its athletic advantage at almost every position, but the Monarchs have proven time and time again that they can nullify athleticism with fundamentals. Martin’s rebounding ability will come into play in helping the Trailblazers get second-chance scoring opportunities and getting the ball out quickly off the defensive glass to start the fast break. Shot selection is another important aspect of the game for the Trailblazers. Quick 3-pointers early in the shot clock will play into Mater Dei’s favor as much of Sierra Canyon’s advantages will be most impactful when getting downhill and into the paint for high percentage looks. Defensively, the Trailblazers will need to try and make Freedman as uncomfortable as possible as most teams try, and fail, to do. The best way to beat this Mater Dei team is to get the ball out of Freedman’s hands and make others beat you with their decision making. Look for the Trailblazers sag off of Lundeen and Butler on the perimeter and focus on stopping Freedman and Wang.