The CIF Southern Section crowned champions across multiple divisions over the course of two days at Long Beach State and Azusa Pacific. From Mater Dei winning their 23rd Southern Section title under head coach Gary McKnight to San Marcos capturing a championship for the first time in school history, the finals didn’t disappoint. Here, the Times High School Insider has you covered with interviews, highlights and more.
Girls’ Open Division Final: Windward vs. Harvard-Westlake
Reporting from LONG BEACH – Windward used a third quarter offensive explosion to beat top-seeded Harvard-Westlake, 53-45, behind 25 points and 13 rebounds from dominant guard Charisma Osborne. The defending state champions outscored Harvard-Westlake 17-10 in the third and turned their six-point halftime lead into a 13-point advantage, by the start of the fourth quarter. Windward also beat Bishop Montgomery and Mater Dei on their way to a Southern Section title.
McKayla Williams (12 points) and Kaiyah Corona (nine points & seven rebounds) assisted Osborne in leading the charge for Windward. The Wildcats shot nearly 50 percent from the field, while Harvard-Westlake made roughly 35 percent of their baskets. Freshman Kiki Iriafen scored 15 points and snatched nine boards to lead Harvard-Westlake. Jayla Ruffus-Milner posted 14 points with eight rebounds.
Boys’ Open Division Final: Mater Dei vs. Sierra Canyon
Reporting from LONG BEACH – Leading 54-53 with 27 seconds left, Spencer Freedman stepped to the line for Mater Dei in the double bonus. Typically an excellent free-throw shooter, Freedman missed both and Sierra Canyon called a timeout. Scotty Pippen Jr. drove to the rim and missed, K.J. Martin couldn’t convert on a tip-in opportunity, and Aidan Prukop was fouled on the rebound for Mater Dei. Prukop shot one-of-two at the line, and with 8.7 seconds left, Sierra Canyon had a chance to win or send the game into overtime.
Duane Washington Jr. dribbled into the paint and missed. Martin had an opportunity but failed to tip the ball in, and Terren Frank watched it fall off the rim as time expired. Mater Dei prevailed, 55-53, earning their first Southern Section title since 2014. Michael Wang, who fouled out with just under six minutes remaining, led Mater Dei with 14 points. Freedman scored 13 and Harrison Butler added 12.
Martin finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and his usual assortment of high-flying dunks throughout the game. Cassius Stanley put up 12 points but turned the ball over four times and shot just five-of-fifthteen from the floor. Sierra Canyon shot almost five percent better than Mater Dei and out-rebounded them by four, but couldn’t capitalize on multiple opportunities throughout the final moments of action.
Boys’ Division 5AA Final: Nogales vs. Foothill Technology
Reporting from AZUSA – Two words can be used to best describe a 78-65 Nogales Southern Section championship victory over Foothill Tech. Dale Batac. Five-for-nine from behind the three-point line and over 50 percent from the field, Batac scored 30 points in as many minutes. He shot 66 percent from the three-point line in the first half and kept rolling the rest of the way.
“Needles to say, the basketball gods probably weren’t on our side throughout that first half,” Foothill coach Dean Prophet said. The Dragons scored just 15 points in the first half and trailed by 13 at halftime, a deficit too tall to climb back from. Foothill outscored Nogales 34-25 in the fourth quarter, behind nine points from Collin Vallance. He finished with 16 points, while Cameron Strain added 14.
Besides Batac, Nogales was led by six-foot-three forward Matthew Fraizer with 16 points and nine points from Brandon Nguyen. Nogales made a staggering 44 percent of their three-point shots as a team, which was higher than Foothill’s field goal mark. For the first time ever, the Nobles capture a Southern Section title, doing so with an overall record of 25-7.
Girls’ Division 4AA Finals: Brentwood vs. Foothill Technology
Reporting from AZUSA – After Kathryn Bova went one-for-two at the free-throw line, Brentwood trailed 53-50. Freshman point guard Sammy Wadler created space in the corner and drilled a three-pointer to tie the game with 3.2 seconds left, and she wasn’t done yet. Out of a Foothill Tech timeout, Brentwood defended right in-front of their own basket. Wadler stole the inbounds pass, took a few dribbles baseline and nailed a floater at the buzzer to give Brentwood the championship.
“I’m kind of still in shock,” head coach Charles Solomon said immediately after the game. “This was a very well played game, we are two teams evenly matched that play completely different styles.” Wadler poured in 16 points, and after falling behind 14-5 at the end of the first, Brentwood out-scored Foothill 50-39 during the second and third.
Boys’ Division 2AA Finals: Brentwood vs. Crossroads
Reporting from AZUSA – Led by six-foot-ten UCLA-comitt Shareef O’Neal, a packed Felix Event Center had all eyes on Crossroads. None of the hype phased Brentwood, however, as the defending Southern Section champions captured back-to-back titles with a 48-41 victory. Braelee Albert, a former Crossroads student, lit up the floor on both ends with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
Charley Wadler, Sammy’s brother, and JR Olofson added 10 points each. Brentwood out-rebounded Crossroads by nine and put immense pressure against O’Neal, throwing two or three defenders his way almost every possession. The Brentwood defensive strategy paid dividends, as they limited O’Neal to nine points. The Eagles also held Crossroads to under 28 percent shooting for the game.
While O’Neal struggled to score, he still impacted the game in other ways, finishing with five blocked shots, five rebounds and two assists. Darrell Huston led the scoring charge for Crossroads with 19 points. “My teammates and I fought all the way to get here, with a really tough schedule,” O’Neal said.
Boys’ Division 2A Final: San Marcos vs. Riverside Poly
Reporting from AZUSA – San Marcos had never won a Southern Section title, or made it to the finals in more than 30 years, until Saturday. The Royals seized the opportunity with a hard-fought 67-47 championship win against Riverside Poly. 17 points and 11 rebounds from agile big man Jackson Stormo, as well as 19 points from Stefan Korfas, got the job done for San Marcos. Riverside Poly lost the second and third quarters by just two points each, but San Marcos won the fourth and most important quarter 25-14 to seal the victory.
Lamont Butler slashed through the San Marcos defense for 19 points, but it took him 21 shots to do so. Outside of nine points from Trent Thornton, Poly didn’t get enough production with the rest of their players to keep up with San Marcos down the stretch.
Girls’ Division 1 Final: West Torrance vs. Chaminade
Reporting from AZUSA – Tied at 44 with under one minute left in regulation, Anaya James drove to the basket, drew a foul and knocked in two key free-throws for West Torrance. Chaminade called a timeout with 13 seconds remaining, and gave the ball to six-foot-one center Jasmine Moore. Moore invited contact and got to the line but made just one of two, in addition to being called for a line violation on the second foul shot.
West Torrance trailed by nine at the half, struggling to gain any offensive or defensive rhythm. “Defensively, we were just out of sink in the first half,” head coach Riki Murakami said. “We told the group at halftime that we needed to settle down and just play our defense.” Coach Murakami’s message worked, especially in the fourth quarter. West Torrance out-scored Chaminade by four and gave up nine points, but more than anything, appeared to be way more in sync than in the first half.
Lani Lum was the top scorer for West Torrance with 12 points, Hailey Jones and Katie Timmerman both adding 11 to balance out the offense. Chaminade had a 12-5 advantage in steals, six of which came from Alexis Whitfield, who also grabbed 12 rebounds. Moore scored 17 points for Chaminade and Leslie Hunter posted 14.
Boys’ Division 1 Final: Pasadena vs. Chino Hills
Reporting from AZUSA – In perhaps the most anticipated matchup of Saturday’s action at Azusa Pacific, Onyeka Okongwu dropped 38 points with 14 rebounds for Chino Hills, as the Huskies beat Pasadena 72-56. Okongwu scored his points on just 20 shots, only missing two, most of which were thundering dunks. With under four minutes left in the third quarter, Okongwu skied above the rim for a huge dunk down the middle of the lane, and one play later, caught a lob for his second straight jaw-dropping slam.
Overall, Chino Hills had widespread production across the board, including 16 points and nine rebounds from Ofure Ujadughele and eight points from Andre Ball. Bryce Hamilton scored at will from the outside for Pasadena, putting up 22 points. It took Hamilton 25 shots to get those points, however, a key difference in the final outcome. Tavian Percy shot an efficient six-of-eleven for 16 points, and Darius Crown added 10.
Pasadena’s full court press created nine steals and forced 15 Chino Hills turnovers, but too many Okongwu transition baskets were allowed to stay competitive throughout the final minutes of regulation. Chino Hills made shots at a 59 percent clip, in contrast to Pasadena’s 35 percent field goal mark, which was especially evident in Okongwu’s final statistics.