Cajon girls basketball coach Mark Lehman was surprised when he found out his team was picked for the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs.
Should he have been?
Absolutely. Considering his team was ranked fifth in Division 1A entering the season’s final week, the Open Division took only one of the teams ranked ahead of Cajon in Division 1A, Riverside North.
Entering the week, 3 Division 1A teams were on the Open Division Watch List: Riverside North, Fullerton Troy and Cajon. North was ranked No. 1 in 1A, and got the 16 seed in the Open Division. Cajon was No. 5 in 1A, and got the 15 seed. Troy was ranked No. 3 and didn’t get in, and is the No. 2 seed in 1A.
I realize that Cajon had a big win, beating Eisenhower, which had given Cajon its only loss in the teams’ first meeting. Yet no one else above them in 1A lost during the final week. So, how is Cajon the No. 5 team in 1A according to that division’s pollsters entering the week, then essentially the No. 1 team (highest Open Division seed) just a week later?
I cannot recall a week with two games as crazy as the ones I had this week.
First, there was Redlands East Valley’s 5-4, 5 overtime win over Yucaipa in girls water polo on Tuesday.
Then came Thursday, when Eisenhower girls basketball rallied from 9 points down in the final 9.3 seconds to force overtime, before falling to Cajon, 65-57.
I have never seen a 5 overtime game in water polo, and neither had anyone I talked to at the game. And scoring 9 points in the final 9.3 seconds to force overtime? It just doesn’t happen.
But what makes these games remarkable beyond that is that both games had Citrus Belt League titles at stake at the end of the season. In the first case, REV won the CBL title outright, its sixth straight title with the marathon win. In the latter, Cajon earned a share of the CBL title by knocking off Eisenhower. In each case, none of the four teams had lost to anyone else in league. And they were all ranked in CIF-SS.
Those were two games what show why I love high school sports. In both cases, great fan atmosphere, two closely matched teams and two games in which there was a big mental aspect. in the first case, REV fought through fatigue to finally win. In the second case, Cajon fought through the embarrassment of squandering a big lead and recovered to win in overtime.
You’ll see above one of the craziest comebacks in a short period of time, with Eisenhower trailing by 9 and tying it on two 3-pointers by Delilah Cerda, and then a steal and a layup by Allyah George as time expired. A foul was called, and the free throw tied the score and sent it to OT.
I have never seen 9 points in less than 10 seconds to send the game to OT. Of course, it was a combination of Ike’s great plays and Cajon making some poor decisions.
Ike didn’t have enough left in OT and Long Beach State-bound Aaryon Green suffered from leg cramps and Cajon took advantage.
Above, a photo from the last time Cajon and San Gorgonio met on the football field, on Sept. 6, 2013 as Cajon’s Edward Kilpatrick tries to break through the San Gorgonio defense.
How big a crowd could be expected for today’s CIF-SS Inland Division matchup, with San Gorgonio hosting Cajon?
“I don’t really know,” San Gorgonio athletic director Matt Maeda said. “We’re the only teams in San Bernardino playing, but REV and Citrus Valley have games, so we won’t get those fans.”
Since San Bernardino schools for years were all in the San Andreas League together, this is uncharted territory to have city schools from different leagues play each other in the playoffs.
Maeda thinks the crowd could rival the biggest in recent years at their stadium.
“It has the potential to be the biggest. The first time REV came here was probably the biggest (in 2009),” Maeda said.
With a large crowd anticipated, both schools are selling tickets in advance at their schools. Both Maeda and Cajon athletic director Rich Imbriani said they pre-sell tickets for games in which a larger crowd is anticipated.
“It’s more of a courtesy for our dedicated fans,” Maeda said. “We have a good following of alumni, and it helps them not to stand in a long line.”
Cajon girls basketball wins Division 2 bracket of the San Diego Classic
Cajon High’s girls basketball team won the Division 2 bracket at the San Diego Classic last weekend.
Yes, it is summer basketball and the tournament means nothing once the regular season starts in more than four months.
But it is impressive for a few reasons.
First, there were 128 teams in their bracket, meaning they had to win seven games to win the title.
Second, they weren’t playing a bunch of small schools. As the name of the bracket would suggest, those were all Division 2 opponents, with the exception of the team they beat in the championship game, Division 3 Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills.
Third, they had only seven players, so there wasn’t a large margin for error in case of fouling out or injury or just fatigue.
Kayla Washington, who scored at least 20 points in each of the last three games, was named MVP. The games were played with two 20-minute running clock halves, but Cajon won each game (except for the championship game) by at least 11 points.
In the championship game, a 45-44 win over Oak Ridge, Washington was nine for 13 from the floor scoring 21 points with 10 rebounds, while Tyla Turner had 10 points & nine assists.
The last time Cajon won this tournament it was 2007. The next high school season 2007-08, the Cowgirls went on to win the CIF-SS Division IIA title.
Cajon, one of the more successful and stable athletic programs in San Bernardino County, has had to hire three new head coaches in recent months.
Two down, one to go.
Cajon hired Robert Grande, an assistant last year, as its new head baseball coach. Grande replaces Jon Austin, who stepped down after after 16 seasons and a 259-165 record. Athletic Director Rich Imbriani had indicated after Austin resigned that there were several candidates already on the coaching staff.
Previously, Imbriani hired John Anderson to replace John Chamberlain to coach water polo, after Chamberlain left Cajon to take the athletic director job at Indian Springs, Anderson’s former job. Anderson previously coached water polo at Arroyo Valley.
One position remains open: softball, after Jerry Tivey resigned after the season to pursue other interests.
Jerry Tivey has announced his decision to step down as Cajon High School softball coach after 23 years.
There are many impressive achievements during Tivey’s coaching career, which included 447 wins, 5 CIF-SS semifinal appearances, 2 finals appearances, and one CIF title, in 2006.
But some people don’t realize that Tivey was also a very accomplished boys basketball coach. While he was simultaneously coaching softball, he was also coaching basketball for the first 12 years.
During those 12 years, he assistant Mark Lehman (yes, the current Cajon girls coach then coached boys) for the first seven then was the head boys coach for the next five, going 101-40 and winning three league titles.
He said he hasn’t closed the door on coaching again, even saying, “I would consider getting back into basketball.”
But that doesn’t sound like any time soon. For now, he’s going to spend more time with his sons who are entering sixth and eighth grade, working on a book about creative writing in classrooms and adding another class of the International Baccalaureate he teaches at Cajon.
On the surface, there might be little to enjoy about Cajon’s girls basketball 55-53 Citrus Belt League victory over Miller on Thursday.
Cajon won despite being held scoreless for the final 2:50.
The teams went a combined 0-for-4 from the line in the final 1:01, with Cajon twice missing the front end of a one-and-one.
More than 4 1/2 minutes into the game, the score was 4-4.
Miller made just eight of 18 free throws in the game.
But despite all that, it was an incredible game. It was probably one of the best league girls basketball games I’ve seen in a long time. It had a great pace to it. Both teams are fast, move the ball and play tough defense, and neither team led by more than seven points at any point in the game. Every shot and pass was contested. Neither team goes deep into their benches for a game like this, and both teams were in foul trouble but that made the game interesting.
Miller definitely has more size and experience. Miller has 6-foot-3 senior LaCrisha Mackall and starts two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Cajon has no player taller than 6-feet, and starts three freshmen, a junior and a senior. The contrast in styles was interesting.
I am already looking forward to the rematch, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at Miller. But both teams need to be careful as there is plenty of talent in the league. On an off-night, Miller or Cajon could lose to someone else in the league.