Defeat Is Not End of Road for Some

Times Staff Writer

Call it Not-So-Selective Sunday.

Eleven City and Southern Section boys' basketball teams that lost championship games over the previous two days received automatic entries into the Southern California regional playoffs Sunday when state pairings were released.

But at least six of the lucky losers have to like their chances if matched against the teams that beat them over the weekend.

"Sometimes you've got to hurt a little bit to show your true character," said Moreno Valley Canyon Springs Coach Jeff Stovall, whose Cougars lost to Los Angeles Loyola, 70-62, in the Division I-A final.

Canyon Springs led by six points in the third quarter and three points early in the fourth quarter before losing its shooting touch. The Cougars made only five of 22 shots in the fourth quarter.

Still, Canyon Springs would figure to give Loyola all it could handle in a rematch because of its outstanding athleticism and the fact that two of its top three players, Richard Cobbs and Andre McGee, had subpar shooting performances. Cobbs made two of 16 shots and McGee converted four of 22 attempts.

Problem is, the Cougars (26-5) probably will to need to beat fourth-seeded Rialto Eisenhower (24-7), their first-round opponent, and top-seeded Westchester (29-3) to get another shot at Loyola (26-4).

Another team that covets a rematch is Inglewood, which played poorly down the stretch in its 62-59 loss to Bellflower St. John Bosco in the Division II-AA final. The second-seeded Braves (25-6) and Sentinels (22-9) could play again Thursday in the second round.

Buoyed by a pregame pep talk from Boston Celtic star Paul Pierce, who addressed players from his alma mater for about 20 minutes over a speakerphone, Inglewood opened the game with an 11-2 spurt.

But the Sentinels fell apart late by making several turnovers on passes during the final two minutes. Ronald Ligon had a chance to tie the score at the buzzer, but his three-point shot bounced off the rim.

Los Angeles Fairfax, Victorville Silverado, Compton Centennial and Santa Monica Crossroads also could expect to avenge narrow losses in championship games.


St. John Bosco lost to Santa Ana Mater Dei twice this season and three times last season, including a section playoff semifinal, but the Braves aren't trembling at the possibility of facing the Monarchs in the Division II state playoffs.

"That's what I'm really looking forward to," said guard Eric Lane, who led St. John Bosco with 28 points Saturday.

Big words from a program that hasn't beaten Mater Dei in Serra League play since the league was formed in 1999-2000.

This season, the Braves lost to Mater Dei by 34 and 25 points.

St. John Bosco, which won a sectional title for the first time since 1994, has won 17 of its last 19 games, its only losses to Mater Dei. The teams could meet Saturday in the Southern California regional final at Long Beach Arena.


After scoring 24 points to lead Rialto Eisenhower to the Division I-AA championship, forward Sean Marshall said he wasn't satisfied with the school's first section title. The Boston College-bound standout said he was ready to take on traditional powers Westchester, Fairfax and Loyola in the Eagles' quest for a first state title.

"We've been waiting to play these big teams since the beginning of the year," Marshall said. "We'll be ready for it. We don't want our season to end. We'd be bored then."

Eisenhower could face Westchester on Thursday in the second round.


As expected, Westchester, Mater Dei, Lakewood Artesia and Los Angeles Price are all top-seeded in their divisions for the Southern California regional playoffs....Verbum Dei Coach Ronnie Gipson, who didn't do himself any favors earlier this season by criticizing a school-sponsored corporate work program that forced players to sit out practices and games, said he would like to return to lead the Eagles to "three to four championships in the next few years." Gipson, who has guided Verbum Dei to section titles in each of his first two seasons, said he would discuss his future with school officials soon. Principal John Weling declined to address Gipson's status....Total attendance at the Arrowhead Pond on Saturday was 13,679, with the four-game morning session drawing 6,102 and the two-game evening session drawing 7,577.


Staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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