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Eisenhower stands tall to win championship

Brea Olinda girls avoid letdown and romp to Division II title

March 21, 2009|Eric Sondheimer and Ben Bolch

SACRAMENTO — Rialto Eisenhower showed Friday night what it takes to win a state championship -- hustle, intensity, teamwork and toughness.

Despite having no one on the court taller than 6 feet 4, the Eagles (32-3) relied on the intangibles, not to mention an effective 2-3 matchup zone defense, to defeat hometown favorite Rocklin, 73-61, to win the state Division II championship. It's the first time a San Bernardino County boys' team has won a state title.

More than 2,000 Rocklin fans, dressed in blue and waving foam sticks, tried to turn Arco Arena into a noisy home-court advantage for the Thunder.

Eisenhower Coach Steve Johnson would have none of it, screaming at the top of his lungs, exhorting his players and demanding they perform.

And they did, taking a 31-27 halftime lead and extending it to as many as 15 points in the third quarter.

"I thought our pressure got to them a little bit," Johnson said.

The Eagles' quickness and leaping skills helped them prevent 6-10 UCLA-bound Brendan Lane from taking charge inside until it was too late.

Lane ended up with 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

But it was Eisenhower's balance that delivered the victory. Andrew Bock scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as Johnson yelled at him to "shoot the ball."

"Andrew took over offensively in the second half," Johnson said.

The same defense last week was good enough to beat Los Angeles Loyola in the Southern California regional championship, which had players 6-9 and 6-10.

"We've been able to play big teams all year," Johnson said.

They gave up 34 points to Carl Hoffman last week. And Lane torched them at times Friday, but the scoreboard told the story of another Eagles success.

Los Angeles Windward 69, Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame 53 -- From the opening minutes, when 6-10 UCLA-bound Anthony Stover blocked three shots, the tone was established, and the Wildcats (29-6) never looked back in winning their first Division V championship.

"He was always in the back of your head -- where is that guy?" St. Joseph Coach Don Lippi said.

Stover finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks. He had plenty of help. Michigan-bound Darius Morris scored 25 points and sophomore Wesley Saunders had 21 points and made seven of eight shots. The Wildcats outrebounded St. Joseph, 37-20.

Windward scored the game's first 10 points and led by 18 points at halftime. It was a day of redemption for Stover, who was a member of the La Canada Renaissance team that lost in last year's final.

"I think a year ago I was sitting at the end of the table with my head pointed down," Stover said afterward. "Now, all I can do is smile. It's my happiest moment."


Brea Olinda 68, Concord Carondelet 45 -- Junior guard Kelsey Harris scored 25 points for the Ladycats, who avoided a letdown after their victory over top-ranked Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Southern California regional championship by easily winning the Division II title.

"I was worried about the emotional drain a game like that takes on you. That game was ridiculous," said Brea Coach Jeff Sink, whose team won its first title since 2000 and ninth overall. "And I think we fought that off."

Harris scored 18 points in the first half as the Ladycats (33-2) took a 19-point lead. Brea outrebounded Carondelet (29-4), 42-30, and shot 44.6% to the Cougars' 28.9%. Sophomore forward Erica Payne had 18 points for Carondelet.

Burbank Bell-Jeff 55, Los Altos Hills Pinewood 47 -- The pressing, trapping Guards used a 9-0 run late in the second quarter to take control in the Division V title game and win the school's first state championship in any sport.

"It means so much, and I'm so happy to be a part of it," said freshman guard Rishonda Napier, who scored eight of her nine points in the first half to help Bell-Jeff take an 11-point halftime lead. "It's overwhelming."

Senior guard Shelley Gupilan scored 22 points and cousin Margeaux Gupilan, a junior guard, had 13, including back-to-back three-pointers as part of the second-quarter surge for the Guards (34-1).

Senior forward Lindsay Nickel had 16 points for Pinewood (31-5), which shot 28.3% to Bell-Jeff's 42.2%.

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