Three of the four teams in the semifinals of the Maxprep Holiday Classic Open Division bracket hail from California, with the fourth entrant emerging from the South — Pebblebrook (Ga.). The Georgia club will face four-time defending California state champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) with Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) facing Etiwanda (Calif.) in the other semi.
At last year’s Maxpreps Holiday Classic at Rancho Mirage (Calif.) High School, an out-of-state entrant won the top (Open) division for the first time in the 11-year history of the event, as Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.) took the title.
The Pebblebrook (Calif.) Falcons want to repeat Jackson’s feat and so far, so good for the Peach State boys, as they advanced to the open division with a 75-69 quarterfinal victory over Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas). Pebblebrook (10-1) led 28-25 at halftime and 49-42 entering the fourth period, which is when the Falcons took control. Prestonwood trailed by eight points (57-49) when Pebblebrook junior guard Jared Harper nailed back-to-back 3-pointers with just over four minutes remaining in the game to put the Falcons up 63-49.
Prestonwood didn’t get enough stops down the stretch while Harper and Clemson-bound Ty Hudson controlled the tempo by getting the ball in the right spots on possessions when PCA looked to foul. Prestonwood actually cut its deficit to 65-60 with 1:23 to go on a couple of long range shots, but could get no closer.
Harper finished with 21 points and 10 assists, while Hudson netted a game-high 29 points to go along with four steals. Six-foot3 senior guard Chris Stephens led PCA with 14 points.
In its opening round game, Pebblebrook outlasted Damien (La Verne, Calif.) 69-67 when San Diego State-bound guard Jeremy Hemsley of Damien was called for offensive charging in the game’s closing seconds. Harper had 23 points, seven assists and four steals, while Hudson finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Georgia-bound power forward Derek Ogbeide added 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. He had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Prestonwood Christian Academy.
Pebblebrook’s opponent in its Monday 8:30 pm (PT) semifinal will be 2011 Maxpreps Holiday Classic champ Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), which has won the last four CIF state titles in the highest classification. On Saturday night, Mater Dei took down scrappy Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) 70-51 in a game in which the Monarchs were in control of throughout.
Moreau, which was the only one of four teams hailing from Northern California to win in the opening round of the 16-team open division bracket, had no answer inside for Mater Dei junior center M.J. Cage. The 6-foot-10 son of former NBA rebound champion Michael Cage finished with 21 points, many of which were uncontested near the basket. Guards Rex Pflueger and La’vette Parker combined for 29 points for Mater Dei (10-2), which finished 1-2 at the City of Palms Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., before Christmas. The Monarchs had no trouble in their 63-46 victory over American Fork (Utah) in the first round.
Junior forward Oscar Frayer, a Cal commit, led Moreau Catholic with 21 points versus Mater Dei. The Mariners defeated Issaquah (Wash.) 67-56 in their first round game. Folsom (Calif.), Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) and Sacramento (Calif.) were all first round losers. Only Sacramento won its consolation bracket game on Saturday.
Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, which was ranked No. 14 in the latest FAB 50 national rankings and went 3-1 at the City of Palms Tournament, losing only to No. 17 and semifinalist Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), advanced to the Maxpreps Holiday Classic semifinals with a 69-56 victory over Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.). Sierra Canyon and Alemany were all tied up 49-49 entering the final period, but the Trail Blazers took control with a 9-0 run, sparked by freshman reverse Michael Feinberg. He grabbed some tough rebounds and finished with 12 points, including seven in the final period.
Sophomore forward Cody Riley had 15 points in the win over Alemany, which was led by junior point guard Shaq Dawkins with 31 points. Sierra Canyon defeated Sacramento (Calif.) 62-55 in the first round. Sophomore guard Remy Martin netted 16 points and junior point guard Devearl Ramsey added 12 points versus Sacramento.
Sierra Canyon (6-1) will meet Etiwanda (Calif.) in Monday’s 7 pm (PT) semifinal. Etiwanda, which opened the season a bit slow after starting No. 26 in the preseason FAB 50, served notice its back on track after an early upset loss to Great Oak (Temecula, Calif.). The Eagles advanced to the semifinals by outclassing Oakley College of Spain, 63-47, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Etiwanda is known for its defensive pressure and it put on a clinic versus Oakley, smothering shot attempts and getting easy looks itself. Etiwanda (9-2) led 33-12 at halftime and was never really challenged in the game.
Pepperdine recruit Kameron Edwards, a 6-foot-5 forward, led Etiwanda with 20 points. Junior guard Garrett Carter added 14 points for the Eagles, which defeated a sound Archbishop Mitty team that drew an extremely tough opening game.
Etiwanda came out like gang-busters and combined its suffocating man-to-man defense with good outside shooting to roll to a 68-49 victory over Mitty. The Eagles were led by the hot shooting of unsigned senior wing Delewis Johnson. He nailed five first half 3-pointers and six overall, finishing with 28 points. Johnson had 27 points in Etiwanda’s other loss of the season — a 67-63 setback to FAB 50-ranked Centennial (Corona, Calif.), which came in fourth place at the recent Tarkanian Classic and is currently competing at the Under Armour Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif.
Centennial has advanced to the National Division semifinals, where it will face talented Fairfax (Los Angeles) on Monday. The other UA Holiday Classic semifinal will pit The Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) versus Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.), which defeated Centennial by a point in the semifinals of the recent Tarkanian Classic and went on to win the tourney title.