Just as Predicted, Westchester Has Shot at the Title

From Staff Reports

A basketball season that began in December ends this weekend in Sacramento when state championship games in five divisions are played at Arco Arena.

As many observers predicted before the season, Westchester will play for the Division I title against Northern California regional winner Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame.

Santa Margarita, Verbum Dei and Pacific Hills also advanced to state finals.

Here is a division-by-division look at the championship games:

DIVISION I--Westchester (29-3) vs. Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame (29-4), Saturday: Westchester will try to become the fourth City Section team to win a state title when the Comets take on a St. Joseph team led by UCLA-bound Ray Young.

Westchester advanced to the championship with a 61-60 victory over Lakewood Artesia, which lost only two games all season--both to Westchester. The Comets are led by point guard Brandon Granville, swingman Tony Bland and forward David Bluthenthal. The key for Westchester, however, might be the play of 6-3 senior forward Albert Miller, who helped stymie 6-foot-8 Artesia standout Jason Kapono in the regional final and will probably be matched up against the 6-5 Young in the championship game.

Chris Osborne, a 6-8 junior, was effective off the bench against Artesia.

St. Joseph advanced to the final by defeating Vallejo, 57-50. The Pilots, who lost to Crenshaw in last year's final, play high-pressure man-to-man defense and score a lot of points off turnovers. The matchup between the unflappable Granville and St. Joseph point guard Nate Murase will be one of the best of the season. Young, like Bland, can take over a game with his shot and by creating opportunities for teammates off drives.

DIVISION II--Santa Margarita (31-2) vs. Santa Rosa Montgomery (26-7), Friday: Guard T.J. Williams and forward Ryan Forehan-Kelley have been standouts for Santa Margarita all season, but it was Jake Rohe who scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter of a 60-50 regional final victory over Compton.

Montgomery upset Mountain View St. Francis, 63-57, to advance to the final. The Vikings are led by 6-4 senior Trevor Lorz, who scored seven of his 25 points in the final two minutes of the regional championship victory.

DIVISION III--San Diego University (25-4) vs. Redding Enterprise (23-7), Saturday: University outlasted Fresno Washington Union, 58-54, in overtime to gain its first berth in a state championship game.

Arizona-bound Luke Walton, the son of former UCLA star Bill Walton, averages 18 points for the Dons.

Enterprise, which defeated Loomis Del Oro, 49-31, is led by Billy Speer, who averages 22 points.

DIVISION IV--Verbum Dei (22-5) vs. Pacific Grove (27-2), Saturday: First-year Verbum Dei Coach David Greenwood knows something about winning at the high school level. The former UCLA star and Chicago Bull played for Verbum Dei in the 1970s when the Eagles dominated in the Southern Section. Greenwood never got a chance to play for a state title because the tournament did not begin until the 1982. But he and the Eagles are in a position to win the school's second state championship after defeating La Jolla Bishop's, 67-46.

Marlon Parmer and Dalron Johnson are the top players for Verbum Dei, which won a title in 1995 and takes a 17-game winning streak into the final.

Pacific Grove advanced to its state final appearance with a 55-54 victory over Modesto Christian.

DIVISION V--Pacific Hills (27-7) vs. Stockton Brookside Christian (31-1), Saturday: The Bruins, making their third state final appearance, hope to bring home their first championship after advancing to the title game with an 81-79 triple-overtime victory over San Diego Horizon.

Senior forward Ryan Abrahams scored 38 points in the regional final victory, Pacific Hills' second triple-overtime victory in as many weeks.

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