FAB 50 No. 21 Loyola (Los Angeles) easily defeats No. 36 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) in Monday night’s National Division championship game at the UA Holiday Classic in Del Mar, Calif. Underclass-dominated Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) take third place in the National Division while Mater Dei (Chula Vista, Calif.) won the American Division championship.
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In a battle of Student Sports FAB 50-ranked Southern California clubs, Centennial (Corona, Calif.) head coach Josh Giles figured his guard-oriented club would have to shoot a high percentage and speed up the game in order to defeat Loyola (Los Angeles) in the National Division championship game of the Under Armour Holiday Classic in Del Mar, Calif.
In the end, his club wasn’t able to successfully accomplish either pre-game goal, as Loyola used its superior balance and depth to defeat Centennial 78-57.
“It was a made-shot, miss-shot game, and we did not do that,” Giles said. “We also had to speed things up to play at our pace and that didn’t happen, either.”
It was Loyola’s first ever National Division championship in the 24-year history of the event. Loyola also became the first CIF Southern Section program to win the title since Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) in 2010.
With the victory, FAB 50 No. 21 Loyola won its third holiday tournament and moved to 12-0 on the season. Furthermore, the relatively easy win over a team that came in ranked No. 36 nationally showed it’s going to take a complete all-around team performance to knock off the Cubs in the first-ever CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs beginning in late February.
“This year, we were determined to come back more cohesive and stronger,” said senior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who played a key role last season on a Loyola team that reached the SoCal Division I regional final. “The reason we are 12-0 is because of our improvement defensively.”
The Arizona-bound Jackson-Cartwright finished with 15 points and seven assists and helped Loyola jump out to a quick double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter. He and junior guard Max Hazzard converted back-to-back lay-ups to give the Cubs a 21-11 lead entering the second period.
The score was 36-26 at halftime and Loyola was in control. At that point, all-tournament selections Sedrick Barefield and Deontae North had scored 24 of Centennial’s 26 points and the Huskies simply didn’t get enough contributions from other players to stay within striking range in the second half. Centennial, which entered the game with its only loss to FAB 50 No. 7 Etiwanda (Calif.), was outscored 25-15 in the third quarter and the game was basically over at that point.
Loyola cleared its bench with 2:30 remaining in the game and leading 74-52. Loyola’s defensive length and the presence of 7-foot UCLA-bound center Thomas Welsh clearly bothered Centennial’s shooting around the rim and the Huskies couldn’t get anyone going from the outside besides Barefield (15 points) and the Long Beach State-bound North (27 points).
North’s shooting was offset by the inside dominance of Welsh, who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.
“Welsh has improved so much,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “He brings a work ethic to practice and it shows in our games.”
Hazzard, one of the fast-rising juniors in the state, was named National Division MVP after averaging 22.8 ppg in Loyola’s four victories. Loyola also has at its disposal the athletic Khalil Bedart-Ghani on the wing and excellent role players such as Thomas Lapham. It’s just hard to nitpick a weakness of this senior-oriented team.
“This may sound cliché, but the best thing about this talented group is they are likely the best group of kids I’ve been around,” Loyola coach Jamal Adams said. “They are just good human beings and root for each other. They are real competitive in practice and that really sharpens our blade.”
Sierra Canyon Youngsters Take Third Place
In a game with a plethora of young talent highlighted by the point guard match up between sophomores Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Devearl Ramsey (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth, Calif.), it was Ramsey that won this round of a battle that high school basketball fans will be able to enjoy for the next two and a half years.
Ramsey scored 15 points, dished out eight assists and played hard-nosed defense to lift Sierra Canyon to a 60-50 victory over the Huskies. Ramsey made Ball work for his 15 points, as Ball and his teammates did not shoot a high percentage from the field.
“Devearl is a killer…he’s a flat-out animal,” Sierra Canyon coach Tyrone Nichols said. “The job Devearl did on Ball tonight was just phenomenal. I think he’s the best point guard in that class because of his defense.”
The difference in the game was the third period, as Sierra Canyon (13-1) outscored Chino Hills (10-4) 21-9 in the quarter. The score was 24-21 at halftime. Freshman forward Cody Riley was the main recipient of Ramsey’s constant pushing of the ball. He had eight points in the quarter and led the victors with 15 points. Fellow freshman forward Ira Lee chipped in 11 points.
In the fourth quarter, Chino Hill’s Mark Williams hit a 3-pointer with 1:43 left to make it a single-digit game (52-44), but Sierra Canyon was in control throughout the final period. Ball was the only double-digit scorer for Chino Hills.
Last year, Sierra Canyon lost in the title game of the American Division to host Torrey Pines. Nichols, however, is not surprised by his young team’s early season performance.
“I’m not surprised by what they’re doing. Devearl, Cody and Ira, get most of the attention, but when you look at what Adam Seiko and Terrence McBride are doing, they are solid players.
“Actually it’s our senior, Jamani Spencer, that has been the biggest surprise.”
American Division Final: Mater Dei (Chula Vista, Calif.) 69, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 67 (OT)
In a game played at Torrey Pines High School, the Crusaders pulled off the minor upset by defeating San Diego County’s top-ranked team. Senior guard Iman Chatman led the way for Mater Dei (11-2) with 20 points. Chatman was named the division’s Most Valuable Player.
The lead changed hands numerous times and was within one possession for a majority of the second half after La Costa Canyon (13-2) took a 30-29 halftime lead. When the game went to overtime, the difference was free throw shooting, as the Mavericks uncharacteristically missed crucial shots from the charity stripe down the stretch.
With under six seconds remaining in overtime, LCC’s Patrick Fisher missed the first of two with his team trailing 69-67. He intentionally missed the second to the left, but in the scrum for the ball the clock ran out.
Junior guard Tommy McCarthy led La Costa Canyon with 23 points.
Mater Dei got a spark off the bench from freshman point guard Jaylen Hands. He came in with a reputation as one of the best 2017 prospects in California and did not disappoint despite a slender frame. He converted some nifty drives to the basketball, nailed a couple of long-range jumpers and finished with 19 points.
UA Holiday Classic All-Tourney Team:
Bryce Aikens (The Parick School, Elizabeth, N.J.) 5-9 G 2016
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif.) 6-4 G 2016
Sedrick Barefield (Centennial, Corona, Calif.) 6-1 G 2015
Iman Chatman (Mater Dei, Chula Vista, Calif.) 6-2 G 2014 (American Div. MVP)
Joey Covarrubias (Cantwell Sacred-Heart, Montebello, Calif.) 6-1 G 2014
Jaylen Hands (Mater Dei, Chula Vista, Calif.) 5-11 G 2017 (American Div.)
Max Hazzard (Loyola, Los Angeles) 5-10 G 2015 (National Division MVP)
Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Loyola, Los Angeles) 5-9 G 2014
Tommy McCarthy (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad, Calif.) 6-0 G 2015 (American Div.)
Deontae North (Centennial, Corona, Calif.) 6-5 G 2014
Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland, Calif.) 6-10 C 2015
Devearl Ramsey (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth, Calif.) 5-10 G 2016
Kendall Small (Mayfair, Lakewood, Calif.) 5-11 G 2015
Tom Welsh (Loyola, Los Angeles) 7-0 C 2014
Sam Worman (Torrey Pines, San Diego, Calif.) 6-5 F 2014