La Verne Lutheran and L.A. Windward take boys’ basketball state titles


Reporting from Sacramento — Kevin Payne made only two baskets Saturday afternoon in the CIF Division III state boys’ basketball championship game, but they were the most meaningful ones of his career and propelled La Verne Lutheran past Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 64-59, at Power Balance Pavilion.

The Trojans (27-5) trailed, 59-58, with two minutes left before Payne made consecutive three-pointers to give Lutheran a five-point lead, and neither team scored again. Payne, a senior guard, dedicated the season to his father, Kevin Sr., who died in September.

“I got a good pass and let them go. It’s a great way to end high school,” said Payne, who has a portrait of his father tattooed on his left arm. “He was my biggest fan and I always looked at him in the stands and he’d give me the look that everything was OK.”


Video: Wesley Saunders leads Windward to another championship

Lutheran had to deal with unexpected adversity early on when senior forward Xavier Jones, who has a defibrillator in his chest, had to be taken to a hospital after the machine went off during the game.

“It happens when his heart rate gets too high,” Coach Eric Cooper said. “He told me about it right away and said he couldn’t play.”

Lutheran fell behind by six points in the fourth quarter before rallying.

“Kevin has always been our best shooter — he hit 10 threes in a game this year and did it last year as well,” Cooper said. “So even though he hasn’t gotten a lot of minutes some games, we have a lot of confidence in him to make the big shots.”

The game was a showcase of two potential All-Americans in Arizona-bound junior forward Grant Jerrett of Lutheran and Bishop O’Dowd junior forward Brandon Ashley.


Freshman hits big shot

Neither player disappointed. Ashley finished with 26 points and eight rebounds, and Jerrett had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Cameron Osorno also had 16 points for Lutheran, which won the Division V state title last season.

L.A. Windward triumphs

They’ve changed the name of the arena in Sacramento from Arco Arena to Power Balance Pavilion, but perhaps a third name change is in order, “Saunders Pavilion,” considering Wesley Saunders of L.A. Windward keeps winning state titles there.

The Harvard-bound Saunders had 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in helping the Wildcats (27-8) defeat Richmond Salesian, 63-57, in the Division IV championship game. In 2009, Saunders had 21 points when Windward won the Division V title.

“I just want people to remember me by playing hard every time on the court,” Saunders said. “I try to lead by example.”

His teammates helped in many ways. Nicholas Stover, struggling with his shot, made the decisive basket of the day, a three-pointer with 1:24 left that gave his team a 56-50 lead.

He finished with 13 points. And sophomores Jordan Wilson and Charles Dawson contributed 13 and 12 points. Salesian received 23 points from sophomore Jabari Bird.