State Playoffs


All games at Arco Arena (Sacramento)

Saturday, March 20


L.A. Fairfax 51, Concord De La Salle 35
SACRAMENTO--The Los Angeles Fairfax boys' basketball team looked a bit lost in the first half Saturday against Concord De La Salle in the Divison I state final -- until Josh Shipp rediscovered his shooting touch.

Shipp, a UCLA-bound senior guard, tied a Division I state record with five three-point baskets, all in the second half, and the Lions allowed the fewest points in state finals history in a 51-35 victory at Arco Arena.

"To end my senior year with a win is great," said Shipp, who finished with a game-high 22 points. "I feel good right now."

The victory earned Fairfax (27-5) its first state title, extended the City Section's streak of victories in the Division I state finals to eight and improved the section's record to 14-1 in championship games.

Neither team played well during a low-scoring first half. De La Salle (30-3) missed 17 of 21 shots and committed 11 turnovers. The Lions were out-rebounded, 20-17, and had just one assist. The teams combined for four field goals and nine points in the first quarter. The Lions built their biggest lead of the half, 16-8, on a put-back basket by sophomore Jerren Shipp.

Josh Shipp made only one of seven shots and scored three points in the first half. He and 6-foot-8 junior center Jamal Boykin picked up their third fouls in the third quarter, but that didn't stop Shipp from sinking three three-pointers and scoring 11 points to extend Fairfax's lead to 29-22. Jerren Shipp then made a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter and Jamal Clay converted a thunderous dunk on a breakaway after a turnover to put the Lions in command, 34-22.

De La Salle closed to within nine, 34-25, but Josh Shipp hit consecutive three-pointers to tie the record set by L.A. Crenshaw's Alastair Faux in 1996.

"I had a lot of ins and outs in the first half," Shipp said of his shots. "I just kept shooting the ball."

De La Salle, which broke the record for fewest points in a state final that was set earlier by Bishop O'Dowd in a 60-36 loss to Compton Centennial, made just 12 of 48 shots (25%), including five of 27 three-pointers (18%). Kyle Roemer led the Spartans with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
--Dan Arritt

L.A. Fairfax 5 11 13 22 -- 51
Concord De La Salle 4 7 11 13 -- 35

FAIRFAX--Jo. Shipp 22, Boykin 13, Je. Shipp 11, Falough 2, Clay 2, Bell 1

DE LA SALLE--Argenal 4, Joyner 9, Robertson 6, DePaoli 6, Roemer 10 (and 12 rebounds)

Records: Fairfax (26-5); De La Salle (30-2)


Compton Centennial 60, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd 36
SACRAMENTO -- Five years of futility in championship basketball games came to a joyous end for Compton Centennial Saturday because of a near-perfect 32-minute effort that left Coach Rod Palmer beaming with pride and hugging anyone within reach.

"I can't believe it," said Palmer, whose team defeated Oakland Bishop O'Dowd, 60-36, to win the state Division III championship at Arco Arena, holding the Dragons to the fewest number of points in the modern history of the state finals.

Centennial (32-3) had lost five consecutive years in Southern Section championship games and lost in the 2002 state final.

"What a better way to end it with a state championship," Palmer said. "It's been a long, draining, sometimes disheartening road, but there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, and we found it."

Leading the way for Centennial was UCLA-bound guard Arron Afflalo, who scored 24 points.

"The last time I was here, I was in tears," said Afflalo, recalling the 2002 state final. "Now I have a big Kool-Aid smile."

Bishop O'Dowd (26-7) was so thoroughly outplayed that through the first three quarters, the Dragons were never able to score consecutive baskets. There wasn't even a 3-0 surge. Centennial led, 30-11, at halftime and was in front by 28 points after three quarters.

"Defensively, we did everything we game-planned for," Palmer said. "Eleven points at halftime is unheard of for a state championship game."

Bishop O'Dowd entered the final quarter having made only seven of 36 shots and finished with a shooting percentage of 25.5%.

"[Palmer] put together a great defensive scheme," Afflalo said. "We left the opposing team with nothing to do."

Added senior Chris Berry, who scored 16 points: "We were focused all week. We practiced hard. We executed as we were supposed to. This is the greatest feeling in the world."

The Apaches fought through screens, rebounded with authority and didn't let Bishop O'Dowd lead for a single second in the game.

"We stopped everything they tried to do," Palmer said. "We didn't give them any open looks."

Coming one day after its sister school, Compton Dominguez, won the Division II championship, the big question being asked was who'd win a game between Dominguez and Centennial?

"I'll talk to [Coach] Russell [Otis] and give you a time," Palmer said. "It would be a tough game."

Afflalo left Saturday night on a plane headed to Chicago to play in the Roundball Classic on Wednesday. The rest of the Apaches were headed back to Compton, the city of champions.
--Eric Sondheimer


Modesto Christian 71, Price 53
SACRAMENTO -- The half-court offense abandoned the Los Angeles Price boys' basketball team Saturday afternoon in the Division V state championship game, leaving the Knights without perimeter shooting and confidence along the way.

All Modesto Christian had to do was avoid beating itself, and the Crusaders did that by jumping out to an early double-digit lead and holding off a late charge for a 71-53 victory at Arco Arena.

The Knights made just 16 of 58 shots (27.6%), including one of 12 from beyond the three-point line. Price only made one basket from the perimeter in the first half, when it fell behind, 32-19.

Price Coach Michael Lynch acknowledged that outside shooting has been a weakness, even while the Knights were winning a record four consecutive state titles between 2000-03.

"Fortunately, for us [we never shot poorly] in this game," he said. "We shot the ball horribly. Sometimes they go in when you're flowing and sometimes they don't."

Price was also hurt by 22 turnovers, half coming on traveling and charging violations. Lynch also questioned whether the Knights gave their best effort.

"This is one of those games where [Modesto Christian was] on the floor going for the loose ball and we were reaching," Lynch said. "It comes down to they wanted it more than we did."

Price took its biggest lead, 7-4, on two free throws by Schuyler McKay, but the Crusaders (28-6) followed with a 10-0 run and then stretched its lead to 24-11 on a fast-break layup by Michael Porter.

The Knights (24-8) trimmed the lead to nine late in the third quarter and came within six on Marcus Palmer's jump hook with 3:58 remaining, but Modesto Christian followed with a 12-0 run to put the game away.

Modesto Christian's backcourt of Porter, Adrian Oliver and Joe Carter combined to score 46 points. Oliver led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds and Carter, who scored the Crusaders' first 12 points, finished with 15.

Darren Morrison did not make a field goal in the first half, but scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. McKay, Price's leading scorer, was held to eight points on three-for-11 shooting and committed a game-high seven turnovers.

"I don't know what happened," said McKay, who was trying to become only the third player to win four state titles. "I couldn't get things going."

Lynch said the Knights never regained their confidence after initially falling behind by double digits.

"Faith works two ways, for you and against you," Lynch said. "We got behind and we didn't believe [we could catch up.] I can tell by the look on people's faces and I didn't see it."
--Dan Arritt

Los Angeles Price 7 12 17 17 -- 53
Modesto Christian 14 18 17 22 -- 71

MODESTO CHRISTIAN--Porter 13 (and 4 assists), Oliver 18 (and 9 rebounds), Carter 15, Powell 3 (and 9 rebounds), Glenn 14, Macki 3, Fantazia 5.

PRICE--McDonald 6, Morrison 20, McKay 8, Palmer 10 (and 12 rebounds), Henry-Ala 4, Johnson 2, Sutton 2, Meeks 1.

Records: Modesto Christian 27-6; Price 24-8.

Friday, March 19


Dominguez 67, Hayward 46
SACRAMENTO -- When Russell Otis returned to coach the Compton Dominguez boys' basketball team last season, most observers figured it was only a matter of time before the Dons won another state title.

Those expectations became more realistic during the ensuing months, when an influx of talented players transferred to Dominguez. On Friday, the Dons and Otis completed their comeback with a victory over Hayward in the Division II state championship game at Arco Arena, giving the program six state titles in the last nine years.

"This feels better than all the other ones," said Otis, who captured his fifth title as coach of the Dons. "Better because of the interruption."

Otis coached the Dons from 1986 until 2000, earning four state titles and a mythical national championship in his final season. That fall he was arrested, and later prosecuted, for allegedly sexually molesting one of his players. He was later fired by the Compton Unified School District for not having a permanent teaching credential. Otis was acquitted in April 2001 on the molestation charges, a month after the Dons won their fifth state title.

After Dominguez finished 16-14 the following season, the Dons lost in the second round of the Southern Section Division II-A playoffs and had a 62-game league winning streak ended by Downey.

Dominguez Coach Mack Calvin resigned after one season and Otis reapplied for his former job, teaching credential in hand.

Otis didn't have much to work with at first. He conducted open tryouts initially and managed to get the Dons into the section quarterfinals before losing to Redondo.

That didn't stop players from wanting to play for the Dons, who added transfers LaMar Roberson, Bryan Harvey, Derek Wright, Marcus Malone and A.J. Tolbert since Otis returned. Four have starting roles this season and Tolbert is a key reserve. Together, the six transfers accounted for 43 points against Hayward. Roberson led the Dons with 18 points and Harvey had 10.

Dominguez (30-5) didn't waste any time taking control against the Farmers (31-2). After Hayward took its only lead, 6-5, on two free throws by Jamon Hill, the Dons went on a 14-2 run to close the quarter and took a 20-point lead into halftime.

"To me, the real difference in the first half was the on-the-ball pressure," Hayward Coach Jesse Formaker said. "They really didn't let us get comfortable on the floor offensively."
--Dan Arritt


Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame 49, Verbum Dei 47
SACRAMENTO -- Midway through the fourth quarter of the state Division IV boys' basketball championship game Friday, Doni Noble of Alameda St. Joseph went up to his best friend, Alex Harris, during a timeout and told him, "It's the last quarter of our lives. Step up."

"It was like a light bulb went on," Harris said.

Harris responded by scoring 11 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to enable St. Joseph to defeat Los Angeles Verbum Dei at Arco Arena.

Harris, a 6-foot-5 senior who has committed to UC Santa Barbara, was clapping his hands to alert his teammates that he wanted the ball with 1:46 left. He got the pass and made a three-point shot to give the Pilots (29-6) their only lead of the game at 49-47.

Verbum Dei (21-9), seeking its fourth state title, had opportunities to send the game into overtime after Harris missed the front end of a one-and-one foul shot with 22 seconds left and Allen Hester missed two free throws with eight seconds left.

But the Eagles, who won their last two playoff games on buzzer-beating shots, couldn't come through again. Senior point guard Mike Pagan missed an open shot from the free-throw line as the buzzer sounded.

"We had the ball in our best player's hands," Coach DeAnthony Langston said. "He's made so many [clutch shots] over his career."

Verbum Dei, despite a front line that measured 6-8, 6-7 and 6-6, was outrebounded, 48-39, including 20-11 on offensive rebounds. The Pilots shot just 26.6% for the game, but three of their five three-pointers came in the fourth quarter.

Lowell Grissom scored 13 points and had six blocked shots for Verbum Dei, which led by 10 points late in the third quarter.

"I think we got a little [complacent] like we had the game won," Grissom said. "It turns out we didn't."

Verbum Dei committed four turnovers in the opening 2½ minutes of the fourth quarter and watched an eight-point lead vanish.

"In later stages of the game, they got tired," St. Joseph Coach Don Lippi said. "We had fresher legs. I could sense we had better energy. If we had enough time, I felt we could pull it out."

It was Harris deciding at the decisive moment to take charge that gave the Pilots their first state title since Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets led them to consecutive titles in 1991 and '92.
-- Eric Sondheimer

Saturday, March 20


Price (24-7) vs. Modesto Christian (27-6), 11:15 a.m.


Compton Centennial (31-3) vs. Oakland Bishop O'Dowd (26-6), 2:45 p.m.


Fairfax (26-5) vs. Concord De La Salle (30-2), 8 p.m.

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