THEY DID IT, Lutheran wins back-to-back state titles, beats Bishop O’Dowd 64-59

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
Suffering and trials can lead to jubilation. La Verne Lutheran High School senior Kevin Payne Jr. lost his father in August in a horrific freeway accident. Xavier Jones collapsed during a November practice this season, suffering from heart issues. Saturday afternoon, in the biggest game of his life, Payne found that a pair of 3-point baskets can overcome all that pain and suffering.
He hit key back-to-back 3-pointers to help give the Trojans the CIF State Division III title with a 64-59 victory over Northern California champion Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland at Power Balance Pavilion. (To continue click thread)

Robledo’s reaction: I hope Lutheran is enjoying commenters who still don’t want to give them their just due. For those who still don’t get it, Lutheran didn’t buy there was to anything, they earned it. What they did as an at-large is a remarkable and incredible accomplishment. If you think you can just throw out a basketball to bunch of talented players and win back-to-back state titles you’re mistaken. Just look at your NCAA tournament bracket if you don’t understand, talent only gets you so far, the rest is desire and coaching. At the state level everyone has talented players and D-3 had one of the more stacked brackets of all the divisions. Lutheran worked their butts off and their coaching staff worked their butts off to pull off one of the more remarkable titles in Valley history. Those who don’t appreciate it were never going to appreciate it, they’re mostly haters and a bunch of sour grapes. I don’t care if nobody likes Goliath – but this was no Goliath. Nobody thought Lutheran could win a D-3 title after sneaking into the tournament, and they did it without a home game. They OVER-ACHIEVED to the tune of a SoCal Regional and State title.

Payne hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Trojans a 61-59 lead with 1:42 to play. He became the Dragons’ slayer when he knocked down another 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor, the game’s final points, with 1:07 to play.

“This is a storybook ending,” the 6-foot-2 reserve said. “It’s a fairy tale right now, from everything that has happened. I felt like quitting and my (teammates) would not let me do it. Coach (Eric) Cooper talked with me and I stuck with it.

“I lived for this moment.”

Meanwhile, Jones went to a Sacramento-area hospital after playing only 3 minutes, 22 seconds. The starter’s heart defibrillator, which is permanently connected to his chest, went off. The machine was reset at the hospital after he calmed down, and he rode home with the team Saturday night.

“I guess he was very excited,” Cooper said. “He came to me and said, `I have to go out.’ We started the game off without him, and that was a big thing for us.”

Lutheran won its second consecutive state crown after taking the Division V title last season. O’Dowd reached the Division III title game for the second consecutive year and lost for the seventh time in eight tries, the past four in Division III. The last time the Dragons won a title was in 1981, the first year of the reintroduction of the tournament.

The Trojans, who missed their first six 3-point attempts, didn’t miss in the fourth quarter. With the Trojans trailing 49-42 and on the verge of getting knocked out, C.J. Cooper and Grant Jerrett hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Cooper completed a three-point play to tie it 51-51.

“I had to step up,” point guard Cooper said. “There was a sense of urgency.”

The Dragons took their last lead, 59-58, with 2:02 to play when Brandon Ashley, who had a game-high 26 points, scored on a layup. They double-teamed Cooper down the stretch and he found Payne, who made a season-high 10 3-pointers in a victory earlier this season, wide open in the corner. Payne raised his finger, to his father, after hitting the shot. He raised his finger to
Photo Gallery
La Verne Lutheran wins state title
Grant Jerrett, from Lutheran High School of La Verne, right, goes up for the rebound against Brandon Ashley, left, and Richard Longrus, Jr., from Bishop O’ Dowd of Oakland, during the second half of the Boys Division III High School Championship game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 26, 2011. Lutheran won 64-59.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
his mother, Theresa, after the second successful shot.

“After the first one, I was very surprised they sagged off of me too much,” he said. “As soon as I lifted my hands, I knew it was going in.

“I kept waving to C.J. to penetrate to my side because I wanted to shoot it. There was an angel watching over all of us.”

It was an unlikely finish for the Trojans. Payne, junior Eric Cooper Jr. and Bruce English sat out extended minutes in the second half with four fouls each.

“He’s always been our best shooter,” Eric Cooper said of Payne. “He has gone through tough times, and when you go through tough times, you have to find yourself. It’s good that he found himself now.

“A bunch of guys with a lot of heart stepped up big. It’s timing. You can’t play everybody. When they get their opportunities, they step up and play.”

Cameron Osorno had a team co-high 16 points, along with Jerrett.

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  • sgv

    what happened to posting the all league teams this week?

  • FredJ

    I will post them next week, several coaches asked me to wait because they had not had their team banquets yet…

  • SGV BB fan

    Way to go Trojans! Great job bringing home another trophy to SGV!

  • Aaron

    So are these guys going up the D1A next year.

  • Same old thing

    Wow, same old thing. Another private buying a state championship. When will CIF wake up? Public schools just can’t compete; they can’t buy high school players.

  • Don’t worry, be happy

    LVL wins 5th straight road game to capture the CIF Division III State Championship! Great contributions from seniors Kevin Payne who buried two huge threes late in the game and Alec Terry who played some solid big boy minutes on the block. Young McKay Anderson nails a huge three late in the game and Cameron Osorno with 2 threes in a row! Congrats to this team that had to overcome significant challenges and obsticles through the year and God bless X.

  • who’s buying players?

    Please tell me where to sign up to be paid for my son’s services! LVL aint paying nobody to play there, that’s for sure. They barely pay their teachers and their coaches make less than the local paper boy that is slinging the Trib!

    You are a bitter sorry a$$ bastard that is jealous and pitiful. go back to Glendora foothills and sulk till next year when the Trojans try to THREEPEAT!

  • Haha

    “Same old thing” = is a chong’goe-luloe!

  • Old skool

    Watching today and thinking, as it goes in “facing the Giants”- “if we win It, We Praise Him…if we lose , we Praise Him!!!” that’s all I thought through the whole 4th qtr.
    Kevin Payne Looking to Heaven to point to his Father…thank you , Lord!! You made this possible!!

  • Aaron

    That’s definitely is not what’s going on in that locker room.

  • Old skool

    Ok, Aaron!! I was a bit closer to the program and boys than you are. I’m a fan now, but much more than that. God Bless you. Praising God that he used this season to teach and train this team, it’s players…no matter what you might think.
    Great job, Boys!!

  • just sayin’

    Same old thing – they don’t have to – they get ’em for free.

  • so true so true

    Yup, they get them for free. In fact, people PAY for the privilege of going to LVL and to play for Coach Coop because he is a proven winner that works hard and cares about the development and personal growth of his kids. You all can continue to cast aspersions and talk mess about the program, but we will bask in the joy and happiness of winning another championship! Enjoy the view from the sidelines and the agony of knowing your little johnny will NEVER win one

  • Aaron

    There’s a reason why Facing the Giants is a movie! And if for one second you think that program that developed out of thin air is no David facing Goliath on on the plains in the Valley of Elah you are sorely mistaken. This has proved that La Verne Lutheran High School in the sport of boys basketball is a giant even with the enrollment of less than 200 students. The question though is…how long will this success be sustained?

  • Old skool

    I was referring to the quote…”if we win we praise Him, if we lose we praise him,” as I watched from the stands in Sacramento yesterday. I’ve lived the ups and downs of these players and watched them press on and endure. No matter what the result would be, as we trailed by 7…I recalled that quote and prayed the Lord would have his hand on the result, win or lose, and that we wouldn’t lose sight on His plan. Call me religious, it’s what I believe and how I live.

  • HIM

    So, apparently, on this day “HIM” (and by him I mean “god”, and not Captain Chaos from the Cannonball Run movies) decided to prefer Lutherans over Catholics. Because surely, there was equal hand clasping, and feet stomping in prayer on both sides of the court that day. Or maybe “HIM” preferred the Catholics, and decided that it was best that they be dealt a little adversity with a bitter life lesson in how to deal with one of life’s many losses.
    Hmmm… This “him” guy is pretty complicated. Think I’ll stick to football on Sundays.

  • discover


    Open your heart, you will discover “HIM”

    that simple 🙂

  • how is it?

    LVL, the basketball team that also happens to have a high school.

  • sgvpride

    Maybe “him” helped nobody, maybe it was the hard work of a well coached basketball team that brought them back to back titles. Those players “Hims” are a basketball and not “him” himself. They could careless about “him”. Lol

  • Bulldog1

    Thanks Aram, I love to see pictures of winning teams, especially local ones!
    Trojans, it will be nice to let the other two La Verne high schools Kiss the Ring
    Bulldogs and Trojans, we always win with class and humility.
    Congrats to you and enjoy the moment!
    Bulldog Fever.

  • Basic

    Congrats to all of LVL and specially the boys for such a great accomplishment
    from a Bearcat supporter…

  • ole hickory

    congratulations LV lutheran. You have made your coaches, your team, your school and this Valley very PROUD!!!!!

    Fred how about All league selections for the Sierra, Hacienda and the Del Rey!!!!!

  • Amused Reader

    I have a feeling not one of the players or their families are paying one dime for tuition. That’s how a school buys players, it pays for their tuition. And I’m sure maybe one of the players actually lives in La Verne. Good for them. They earned it on the court. Off the court they’re a wanta be Mater Dei getting players from all over the map at a small school.

  • reality

    Big WELL DONE to our local and adopted sons of LaVerne. We welcome you with open arms and are very proud of your great accomplishment. To Mr. Coach and staff enjoy this totally. Back to back WOW!!!! Three Peat?