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Rolling Hills Prep, Northview fall in girls' basketball state finals

Rolling Hills Prep, Northview fall in girls' basketball state finals
Rolling Hills Prep point guard Madison Yamada drives past Menlo guard Avery Lee during the Division IV state final. (Nick Koza)

Nothing can compare to losing a parent, most certainly not losing a state championship basketball game. Rolling Hills Prep junior point guard Madison Yamada lost both within the last month.

Yamada had nine points and eight assists to lead a spirited comeback Saturday, but Yamada and her teammates couldn’t get past the Atherton Menlo Knights and lost 70-63 in the Division II final at the Golden 1 Center.

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Yamada lost her father, Scott, to a heart attack in late January and said her team rallied around her and helped her deal with the loss. It was Yamada, a co-captain, helping her teammates deal with the loss Saturday.

“He died the night before a game and I asked [Coach Richard Masson] not to tell the team,” Yamada said. “But they found out anyway and they’ve been there for me. They’ve made me feel a lot better.”

Huskies leading scorer Clarice Akunwafo scored the game’s first basket, but then Menlo went on a 13-4 run, led by Maya Makoni’s three uncontested three-pointers.

Menlo enjoyed a 17-point lead at one point until Rolling Hills Prep chipped away in the fourth quarter. Makoni was one of four Menlo players in double figures. Akunwafo, just a sophomore, faced double- and sometimes triple-teams throughout the game, and was in foul trouble.

Akunwafo led the Huskies with 17 points. Alyssa Maxey and Naya Stroud fouled out with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Maxey also had a game-high 14 rebounds for the Huskies, who finished 27-5.

Oakland Tech 55, Northview 27: They handled taller post players before, but the Covina Northview Vikings couldn’t control Stephanie Okowi.

Okowi, a 6-foot junior forward from Oakland Tech, scored 16 points and had a division record 24 rebounds in leading her squad over Northview on Saturday at Golden 1 Center for the Division IV state girls’ basketball championship. The rebounding total set the Division IV state title game record and is just one off of the state record shared by three players in three other divisions. The old Division IV record of 21 had stood since 1996.

“That girl is a beast,” Northview coach Danny Silva said of Okowi, who also had a game-high seven blocked shots. “We knew she was going to get rebounds and all that stuff, but, man ...”

Northview center Giselle Garcia tries to score against Oakland Tech forward Stephanie Okowi.
Northview center Giselle Garcia tries to score against Oakland Tech forward Stephanie Okowi. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Northview was paced by Adrine Garcia and Gabby Valdez, who had 11 and nine points, respectively. But the Vikings were held to just eight made baskets and 22% shooting from the field (8 of 36). They were outrebounded 53-29.

Oakland Tech went on an 11-2 run to start the game and that led to an 18-6 first-quarter deficit for the Vikings. They never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Oakland Tech kept firing from behind the NBA three-point line, and why not? They made four three-pointers despite shooting almost four feet behind the high school stripe.

“We’ve been down like that before this season against teams like Pasadena and Dominquez,” Silva said. “But this team. Wow. They were a lot better.”

Northview graduates two starters in Rivera and guard Annie Holie-Phung. Garcia and Valdez return for their senior seasons and Tyra Martinez will be a junior.

Valdez said the experience in the state’s capital was valuable and will fuel her and the Vikings’ offseason efforts.

“I wanted to soak all of this in,” Valdez said. “I know that we have to work even harder.”

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