Keith Kincade turned the boys' Division II state championship game into a personal showcase Friday night and led Compton Dominguez to a state title in the process.
Kincade, a smooth-shooting 6-foot-4 senior, scored 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half as Dominguez won its third state title in four years with a 72-59 victory over Sacramento Grant before 8,000 at Arco Arena.
Dominguez (32-3) entered the game as the top-ranked team in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and the Dons will finish it as the unofficial state champion regardless of the outcome of tonight's Division I final between second-ranked Santa Ana Mater Dei and Oakland Fremont. Dominguez defeated Mater Dei in January.
Kincade scored 13 points in the third quarter as Dominguez extended a 29-19 halftime lead. The lead was built with a 14-0 run that started with a minute left in the first quarter and did not end until midway through the second.
"Coach told me before the game that I had to step up my rebounding," said Kincade, who grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and scored more than half his points on drives and put-backs. "I was getting a lot of opportunities and no one could stop me."
Grant (34-4) pulled to within 52-48 with five minutes left, but Kincade scored seven of the Dons next 11 points as they pushed the lead to 63-51. Kincade made eight of 13 shots and 13 of 16 free throws.
"Keith showed what kind of player he is tonight," said sophomore center Tyson Chandler, who had five points, five rebounds and five blocks before fouling out with 5:45 left. "He stepped up at the right time."
Junior guard Steve Moore made four of eight three-point shots and finished with 16 points for Dominguez. Senior guard Marcus Moore added 11.
Guard Stephen Walton scored 17 points, Jameel Pugh had 16 and Onterrio Smith 13 for Grant, which had its 31-game winning streak come to an end.
The game was part of a trying week for Grant Coach Tony Lowden, who was ordered by the Grant Joint Union High School District to stop praying with his team after the Washington D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatened legal action. The group called the coach's participation in prayer with his players, "a gross violation of Constitutional limitations."
The event spurred publicity that rallied many in Sacramento's religious community. Fans throughout the arena held up signs emblazoned with slogans such as "Pray 'n' Play," and "We Believe in You." In addition, fliers were distributed that read, "Pacer Fans, Coaches and Players in Prayer Together."
Lowden left immediately after the game to fly to Philadelphia for the funeral of an aunt who raised him.
Dominguez had a 29-19 lead at halftime after a fast-paced first half.
Both teams were aggressive even before the opening tap. As player introductions concluded, both teams gathered in the center jump circle at midcourt for inspirational huddles. The teams wound up bumping into each other while jumping up and down and words and elbows were exchanged.
Steve Moore opened the scoring with a three-point basket, but Grant came back with a 7-0 run. The Pacers were ahead, 11-7, when Chandler left the game after getting his second foul with 2:21 left in the quarter.
Pugh scored on a putback for Grant with about a minute left in the quarter to put the Pacers ahead, 15-9, but Grant did not score again until 4:05 remained in the first half.
Seven different Dominguez players scored during a 14-0 run that did not end until Smith scored for Grant to make the score 23-17. Walton scored the Pacers' only other points in the quarter on two free throws with 2:09 left.
Today's State Tournament Finals
DIVISION I BOYS
* Santa Ana Mater Dei vs. Oakland Fremont, 8 p.m.
DIVISION I GIRLS
* Palisades vs. San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6 p.m.
DIVISION III BOYS
* Fresno Washington Union vs. El Cerrito, 2:30 p.m.
DIVISION III GIRLS
* North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake vs. Lafayette Acalanes, 12:45 p.m.
DIVISION IV BOYS
* Verbum Dei vs. Sacramento Christian Brothers, 11 a.m.
DIVISION IV GIRLS
* Santa Ana Calvary Chapel vs. Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 9:15 a.m.