Today at Loyola Marymount
*--* SOUTHERN SECTION BOYS
Santa Monica Crossroads (17-14) vs. Westlake Village Oaks Christian (22-4), 8:30 p.m.
Crossroads, which won Southern Section titles in 1997 and 2001, caught a break when L.A. Murphy upset top-seeded Orange Lutheran in the quarterfinals. The Roadrunners then beat Murphy in the semifinals, 46-39. Robert Locke is averaging 21.5 points in the playoffs for Crossroads. He scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter of a 68-66 second-round victory over Twentynine Palms. The Roadrunners have also been supported by Mitchell Yoshitake, who scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half of an 80-70 quarterfinal victory over Brentwood. Third-seeded Oaks Christian hopes to ride the hot hand of Mike Hornbuckle, a junior guard who made six three-point baskets and scored 39 points in a 78-70 semifinal victory over Santa Maria St. Joseph. Hornbuckle was coming off a 23-point performance against Playa del Rey St. Bernard in the quarterfinals. Last season, Oaks Christian advanced to the Division IV-A quarterfinals, where it lost to Montclair Prep, 62-47.
Los Angeles Verbum Dei (22-6) vs. North Hollywood Campbell Hall (25-2), 6:30 p.m.
Top-seeded Verbum Dei will attempt to win its second consecutive section title in what could be Coach Ronnie Gipson's final game. The coach took a stance unpopular with administrators earlier this year when he criticized a school-sponsored corporate work program that forced his players to miss practices and games. Jason Heard, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the Vikings' semifinal victory over Covina Western Christian, leads second-seeded Campbell Hall.
Palos Verdes Estates Rolling Hills Prep (20-8) vs. Apple Valley Christian (23-2), 4:45 p.m.
These teams met last season in a semifinal that wasn't settled until the last five seconds, when D.J. Wright stole the ball, drove the length of the court and made a layup at the buzzer to give Rolling Hills Prep a 60-58 victory. The Bruins then defeated L.A. Ribet Academy, 79-70, in the championship game. Top-seeded Rolling Hills Prep is led by the same cast as last season -- juniors Curtis Allen, Jason Daley and Wright combined for 67 points in last season's championship game. Second-seeded Apple Valley Christian is led by Marcus Miller, who had 20 points in an 81-60 victory over L.A. Pacific Hills in the semifinals, and Kevin Dillon, who had 26 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in a 73-52 quarterfinal victory at Lone Pine.
Los Angeles Price (28-2) vs. Palm Springs Desert Chapel (19-9), 3 p.m.
For top-seeded Los Angeles Price, this game may be little more than a prelude to a record fourth consecutive state championship. The Knights have won their four playoff games by an average of 53 points and now must only get past unseeded Desert Chapel for their fifth consecutive section title. Price's stable of standouts, including Oscar Edwards, Darren Morrison and Derrick Williams, should be too much for Desert Chapel star Reed Ritchie to overcome.
-- Dan Arritt and Ben Bolch
*--* SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS
Today at Long Beach State
Lynwood (27-1) vs. Long Beach Poly (28-2), 8:15 p.m.
A rematch of last year's final won by Lynwood, 53-50, this game pits Lynwood senior Kameca Simmons against the team she played for last year. Both teams struggled in the semifinals; an 8-0 run in the last three minutes gave Poly a 42-32 victory over Rialto Eisenhower, and a 15-4 run in the last two minutes gave Lynwood a 43-34 victory over Palmdale. Junior guards Sade Wiley-Gatewood and Brandi Kimble lead Lynwood, the defending state champion trying to win its third consecutive section title. Wiley-Gatewood is averaging 24 points and Kimble and Simmons 16 each. Poly isn't quite as potent offensively as it was last season, but is better defensively and has won 24 in a row behind junior Judith Smith, who is averaging 17 points and 6.5 steals, and seniors Natasha Gray and Cynthia Buggs. With both teams' emphasis on pressure defense, the winner is probably the team that is best able to handle the ball.
Redondo (25-4) vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei (20-6), 6:30 p.m.
Six seniors, three of them starters, are back from Redondo's championship team of last season, including point guard Allison Bretana, who missed much of the early season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Seahawks will be the bigger team, anchored by Brittany Grice (6-3) and Chloe Grimm (6-3). Against Mater Dei's pressure defense, guards Bretana and Krisztina Fuleki will play major roles in setting up a half-court offense. The key for Mater Dei is to score, which allows it to set up in its defense, and that duty will fall largely on senior guard Ashley Voisinet and sophomore guard Jen Rogers.
Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (21-9) vs. Los Angeles Marlborough (23-5), 4:45 p.m.
Marlborough, in its first title game, is the best offensive team in the division with UCLA-bound senior guard Shaina Zaidi, sophomore guard Emily Tay and freshman center Abi Olajuwon (6-3). St. Paul lost last year's championship game to Playa del Rey St. Bernard, 41-30, but has the division's best player, Notre Dame-bound Crystal Erwin (6-2), who's averaging 21.8 points and 16.2 rebounds. St. Paul has allowed 50 or more points only four times this season, twice each to Division III-A finalists Torrance Bishop Montgomery and La Puente Bishop Amat. The key factors are whether St. Paul's guards can get the ball past the Marlborough press and give Erwin a chance to score, and whether Erwin can stay out of foul trouble.
Riverside La Sierra Academy (17-8) vs. Ojai Thacher (16-3), 3 p.m.
Few had a tougher time advancing than fourth-seeded La Sierra, whose three playoff victories were by a combined 12 points, including a 63-58 overtime win over top-seeded Palos Verdes Estates Rolling Hills Prep. Senior guard Joial Griffith leads La Sierra, which lost six of its first eight games. The Thacher School also had a close call, needing Annie Wheatley's 10-footer at the buzzer to beat second-seeded Santa Clarita Christian, 58-56, in the quarterfinals, before easily beating second-seeded Santa Monica New Roads, 63-47. Only seven schools have scored more than 40 points against the Toads, who have good size with juniors Steffi Rauner (6-1) and Whitney Livermore (6-2).
-- Martin Henderson