The roles are reversed this time. Or are they?
After Etiwanda toppled then-No. 1 seed Santa Ana Mater Dei in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship game two weeks ago, the Eagles are the only team in tonight’s CIF State tournament SoCal Regional final with some 2013 hardware. Of course, Mater Dei is a two-time defending state champion and a program of such stature it’s difficult to ever call the Monarchs underdogs.
Entering tonight’s rematch between now No. 1 seed Etiwanda and No. 2 Mater Dei for the right to play the Northern California representative in the March 23 state championship game, both teams seem to only be gaining steam.
Colony High School is admittedly curious about how successful it could be in the highly competitive Baseline League. Piquing that curiosity is the fact that Colony has been dominant in several sports during its reign in the Mt. Baldy League.
There will be a Foothill-Citrus Area releaguing meeting March 22 discussing the realignment that will take effect in the fall of 2014, but Colony athletic director Jaime Sandoval doesn’t envision his school going anywhere.
“Everybody’s curious,” Sandoval said. “But you look across the board at where you fit best. And for Colony, the best fit is (the Mt. Baldy League).”
CIF STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
BOYS, DIVISION III
No. 7 Damien (26-6) at No. 2 West Hills Chaminade (25-7), 7:30 p.m.
How they got here: In its last game alone, Damien was the victim and beneficiary of a buzzer beater. After a 40-foot bank shot pulled 10th-seeded Tulare Mission Oak even with Damien at the end of regulation, Jeremy Hemsley’s 3-pointer as time expired in overtime gave the Spartans a 74-72 first-round win on Wednesday. Chaminade had no such drama in its 42-point first-round victory.
Matchup: CIF-SS Division 3AA champion Damien will take on a Chaminade team that was the runner-up in CIF-SS Division 3A. Before losing it’s CIF-SS title game by 24 points to St. John Bosco, Chaminade won its previous four playoff games by an average of 37.5 points, a good indication of why it received the No. 2 seed in the state tournament. Damien’s confidence is certainly on the rise after winning a championship and capturing its first-round game in dramatic fashion. It will be interesting to see if Wednesday’s win was the perfect cure for Damien’s championship hangover.
Hoops for Hope, the basketball tournament inspired by Los Osos boys basketball coach David Smith to raise money for cancer research, just keeps growing.
After amassing nearly $50,000 in the first three years, Smith is anticipating Saturday’s fourth annual tournament to net between $20,000 and $25,000, thanks in part to the addition of new sponsorship.
The tournament will feature nine teams, most of which are squads made up of members of local fire departments. The event was inspired by the Los Osos basketball coach and Ontario Fire Department captain Chip Smith, whom David Smith met while undergoing cancer treatment in 2010.
Dave Kleckner admittedly wouldn’t have felt the same exhilaration at the buzzer, but the Etiwanda boys basketball coach’s priorities weren’t a surprise.
After leading by 17 points in the fourth quarter, top-seeded Mater Dei mounted a furious rally, but Etiwanda held on for a 54-51 victory in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship game Saturday at Anaheim Arena.
“I wanted to hold them to less than 40 points,” Kleckner said. “They ended up with 51 points. We’re used to keeping people in the 30s and 40s.”
There was the victory over Corona Santiago in December, the epic semifinal over the No. 1 team in the country and the quarterfinal win over nemesis Long Beach Poly. The Etiwanda girls basketball team would have likely traded it all for a win Friday night.
But the Eagles lost a rematch with Santiago in the CIF-SS Division 1AA title game, 70-65, at the Anaheim Arena.
Amy Okonkwo, the hero of Etiwanda’s overtime win on Wednesday over a Mater Dei team ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.com, followed her 27-point performance with 19 points and 15 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Eagles. But Crishae Rowe of third-seeded Santiago was up to the challenge with 25 points to lead the Sharks (29-2).
“My biggest fear was that the girls would consider their goal achieved after beating Poly and Mater Dei,” Etiwanda coach Anders Anderson said. “But they way they came out in the second half and the way they fought until the end demonstrated that they came to play tonight.”
It’s near impossible to argue that the Etiwanda High School girls basketball team’s one-point overtime victory Wednesday over a two-time defending state champion ranked No. 1 in the country wasn’t the most significant in school history.
The Eagles want a ring with which to remember it.
After preventing top-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei from playing for a fifth straight CIF-SS championship, No. 5 seed Etiwanda will take on Corona Santigao Friday night for the Division 1AA title.
The math almost doesn’t add up. The Los Osos girls water polo program has only been in existence for eight years. Yet it has been six years since the team failed to make an appearance in a CIF-SS championship game.
The Grizzlies, seeded second in Division 3, will play in their fifth straight title game Saturday at 11:40 a.m. when they take on No. 4 seed Palos Verdes at their home away from home, the William Woolett Aquatics Center in Irvine. Of course there is one small detail. Los Osos won the 2009 CIF championship in its first finals appearance but it hasn’t won one since.
“The last three have left a sour taste in our mouth,” Los Osos coach Eric Cypher said. “We’re definitely looking for that next one. But I’m proud of the girls for getting to this game again. No matter the result, we’re playing good water polo in this program.”