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SOUTHERN SECTION BOYS’ BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES : 2-A : Banning vs. Woodbridge

By way of introduction, Irvine Woodbridge High School’s top player is Adam Keefe, and he could be the best kept secret in Orange County this side of the recipe for Knott’s Berry Farm’s jam.

Keefe, 6-8 and 205 pounds, is a junior center for the Warriors, which makes it tough for him to get attention.

Because LeRon Ellis, one of the top players in the country, is a senior center playing for Mater Dei, Keefe gets little notoriety. But next season, Ellis will be at the University of Kentucky and Keefe will still be at Woodbridge.

Keefe, a fine post player, will get a chance to show his stuff in the 2-A championship game against Banning at 12:15 p.m. Saturday in the Sports Arena.

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Woodbridge (24-5) has won 14 straight games. Banning (22-6) won its 10th consecutive Sunkist League championship.

Keefe averages 22.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game for the Warriors, the Pacific Coast League champions.

Those numbers are impressive, but Keefe has outdone himself in his last two playoff games, particularly in Thursday’s semifinal win over Victor Valley. And he’s drawn rave reviews, from those who have seen him play.

With a capacity crowd, which included University of Arizona Coach Lute Olson, at Apple Valley High, Keefe scored 34 points and had 22 rebounds, one short of his school-record 23.

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He had 18 points in the third quarter and made 9 of his 10 shots from the field.

Bill Shannon, the Woodbridge coach, said Keefe “got a fire in his eyes.”

Victor Valley Coach Ollie Butler told the Times, “You just can’t beat that big guy (Keefe) inside.”

Victor Valley had no one who could stop Keefe, who scored on short jump shots and also hit from 10-12 feet out. Which brings up the matchup for the final, Keefe against Dennis Gray, who at 6-6 is the Broncos’ tallest player.

Gray is also the Broncos’ leading scorer, averaging 19 points.

Junior forward/center Tony Hanibal averages 13 points and 10 rebounds for Banning.

Gray will have to contend with Keefe and Hanibal with Woodbridge’s Vince Bryan, a 6-7 forward. Bryan scored 13 points a game for the Warriors.

Keefe and Bryan, who has signed to play at Brigham Young, each shoot better than 50% from the field.

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Still, Banning pulled off a surprise by beating Santa Clara of Oxnard, the top-seeded 2-A team, in the semifinal Tuesday. Gray scored 33 points in that game.

It may take that kind of effort for Banning to beat Woodbridge.


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