Powerful L.A. Trio Is Back to Defend Crowns

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Compton Dominguez, Torrance Bishop Montgomery and Los Angeles Price will try to defend division titles this weekend at the state basketball championships at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

Dominguez is going for its third consecutive Division II championship and will be without 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler, who injured his ankle in the Southern California Regional semifinals.

Bishop Montgomery is trying to be part of a unique double. The Knights not only can win their second straight championship, but they can also combine with the Bishop Montgomery girls to become the only school to win consecutive boys and girls titles.

Price is trying to win its second consecutive Division V title.

Santa Ana Mater Dei and Santa Monica Crossroads are no strangers to state championship games. Mater Dei, which has won three titles, lost in the 1999 final to Oakland Fremont. Crossroads last appeared in a final in 1997 when the Roadrunners won the Division IV title.

Here is a look at each championship game:

DIVISION I

* SANTA ANA MATER DEI (32-2) vs. MODESTO CHRISTIAN (34-3), Saturday at 8 p.m.: Guard Cedric Bozeman and center Jamal Sampson have achieved great success at Mater Dei, but they have not been able to lead the Monarchs to a state title. They were sophomores two years ago when Oakland Fremont defeated the Monarchs, 50-45, in the final. Mater Dei's quest for its first title since 1995 has been buoyed by the outstanding play of guard Ricky Porter, who stepped up with big games in the regional semifinal against Upland and final against Fresno Clovis West. Forwards Mike Strawberry and Harrison Schaen are other key players for the Monarchs. Modesto Christian defeated defending state champion Concord De La Salle, 72-53, to advance to the final. The Crusaders are experienced and are led by Kentucky-bound forward Chuck Hayes, who scored 26 points and had 11 rebounds in the regional final. Richard Midgley had 19 points and David Paris, the son of former NFL offensive lineman Bubba Paris, had 11 points and 16 rebounds. Modesto Christian's three losses came by a total of four points.

DIVISION II

* COMPTON DOMINGUEZ (30-4) vs. MOUNTAIN VIEW ST. FRANCIS (22-9), Friday at 8 p.m.: Despite losing their coach before the start of the season and their most dominating player at the end, the Dons are in position to win their fifth Division II title in six years. Chandler was not available in the regional final, but Dominguez still defeated a talented Redondo Union team, 62-57, to advance to the final for the sixth time. St. Francis defeated Dominguez in the 1995 championship game--the only time the Dons have lost in the final. Junior forwards Bobby Jones and Darius Sanders have stepped up their games in Chandler's absence and the Dons have received strong play from guards Keion Kindred and Tony Bryant. Guard Montell Williams scored seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter against Redondo Union. St. Francis is led by 6-9 Dave Chiotti, who scored 21 points in the regional final against Hayward, and 6-5 Troy Bienemann, who had 10 points. Point guard Hakeem Gilliard had 18 points in the regional final.

DIVISION III

* TORRANCE BISHOP MONTGOMERY (29-2) vs. SAN FRANCISCO RIORDAN (26-8), Saturday at 2:45 p.m.: Bishop Montgomery won the title last year in its first state-final appearance. USC-bound twin guards Errick and Derrick Craven lead a team that beat San Diego St. Augustine by 20 points in the regional final. Errick Craven scored 24 points, Derrick Craven had 18 and Kenny O'Doyen had 12 in the victory. The Knights also feature UC Irvine-bound guard DeVaughn Peace. Riordan is coming off a 70-46 victory over McAteer in its regional final. The Crusaders start four juniors, including Marquise Kately, who scored 39 points and had 12 rebounds in the regional final. Riordan outrebounded McAteer, 51-16.

DIVISION IV

* SANTA MONICA CROSSROADS (22-5) vs. BERKELEY ST. MARY'S (30-4), Saturday at 11:15 a.m.: Crossroads center Isaiah Fox, who will attend Arizona, is the marquee player for the Roadrunners, who advanced to the final with a 66-52 victory over Bakersfield Garces. Fox, 6-10, scored 33 points and had 22 rebounds in that game and Joe Abrahams added 11. St. Mary's is led by junior guard John Sharper, who scored 28 points in the regional semifinals and 26 in the final. Chase Moore, who scored 18 points and had eight rebounds in the regional final, is St. Mary's top frontcourt player.

DIVISION V

* LOS ANGELES PRICE (32-3) vs. OAKLAND ST. ELIZABETH (23-12), Friday at 4 p.m: Guards Chris Alexander and Andrew Howard and forward Jermaine Jamerson played key roles for Price last season when the Knights won the state title and they have been the leaders this season. Alexander, who has signed with Cal State Fullerton, scored 21 points and Jamerson had 19 in Price's 69-59 regional final victory over Reedley Immanuel. St. Elizabeth features Santa Clara-bound guard Bakari Altheimer, averaging 27 points a game in the state playoffs. Altheimer made 11 of 19 shots and finished with 28 points in the Mustangs' 60-39 victory over Capital Christian in the regional final. St. Elizabeth won the 1996 state championship.

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