CIF State Playoffs: Damien looks to add to its fun; Bishop Amat, Lutheran, Bonita also in first-round games

Staff photo by Keith Durflinger

By Steve Ramirez

What do you do after you win your school’s first CIF-Southern Section boys basketball title?
You try for a CIF state championship.
Damien High School, fresh of winning a 3AA Division title, now takes its chance at a Division III state crown when it hosts Mission Oaks, of Tulare, in a Southern California Regional first-round game Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“We really already accomplished our goal and now we get to play again,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “It’s a challenge, but once you get here, you want to make the most of your opportunity to keep playing well.
“I keep telling our guys that the memories of winning CIF, no one can ever take that away. We’ll always be a CIF champ. But we want to continue to play well.”
It won’t be a simple task for the Spartans (25-7). The Hawks (27-4), who lost 62-60 to Independence, of Bakersfield, in the Central Section title game, feature five players who average close to 10 points a game, led by Blake Shannon, who scores at a 19.7 point clip. Mission Oak also looks to Bobby Alvarado (15.6), Austin Molezzo (11.1), Kollan Mundley (9.6) and Matt Zorn (8.8).
“There as good an offensive team as we’ve played all year,” Dunn said. “The point guard is really good and sets the tone for them. They shoot the ball really well, so they certainly present a problem for us.”
Damien has been as equally tough to guard, especially sophomore Jeremy Hemsley, who averages 18.2 points a game and had 17 points in a 54-40 victory over Santa Margarita in the Division 3AA title game last week. The Spartans also feature 3-point option Jared Dizon, who averages 14 a game, and Ayo Adedeji, who had 18 points in the win over Santa Margarita.
The winner advances to Saturday’s second round. The regional semifinals and finals are slated for next week, with the state championships scheduled March 22-23.
Sierra at LV Lutheran

The Trojans (25-7) are seeking their third state title four years.
Lutheran, which lost to Serra in the CIF-SS Division 4AA title game on Saturday, features four players who score in double figures, led by junior Joseph Rushing (15 ppg). The No. 4 seed Trojans also look to seniors Jay Miller (13.1), Skyler Williams (11.7) and McKay Anderson (11.1).
The No. 13 Chieftains, from Tollhouse, counter with senior Casey Blunt (16) and sophomore Brent Smith (13.5). Sierra lost in the Central Section semifinals.
El Camino Real at Bishop Amat, 7 p.m.

[BODY]The host Lancers are looking to rebound from a 48-46 loss to Canyon Springs in the CIF-SS Division IA championship game.
Amat (24-9) has been led in the playoffs by junior Paulina Santana, who has scored 20 and 17 points, respectively, the Lancers last two games. Amat also looks seniors Mauriana Clayton and Leeah Powell and junior Janae Chamois.
The Conquistadors (20-7), who lost in the Los Angeles City Section semifinals, are led by seniors Cora Chan and Shaina Van Stryk.
Bonita at La Costa Canyon, 7 p.m.

The Bearcats have a tough task against the Mavericks (30-2), who won the San Diego Section title. La Costa Canon, of Carlsbad, features three players averaging nearly 15 points a game, led by Savannah Irwin (15.6). The attack also includes Taylor Price (15.5) and Esther Wofford (14.8).
Bonita counters with Nikki Wheatley, who has averaged more than 20 points a game during the playoffs.

Bishop Amat at Cathedral Catholic, 4 p.m.
The Lancers (24-5) look to beat the Dons for the second consecutive season.
Nayeli Requejo leads Bishop Amat with 24 goals

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