Damien players celebrate winning the Southern Section Division 3AA title… (Steve Galluzzo / For The…)
One of the oldest adages in sports is "defense wins championships," and Tustin proved that still holds true with a lockdown effort in the first half that resulted in its 49-32 victory over Simi Valley Royal in Thursday's Southern Section Division 3AAA championship game at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The top-seeded Tillers (30-2) held Royal to two points in the first quarter and six in the first half on two-of-16 shooting. Tustin had trouble scoring too, however, and led by only 14-6 at halftime.
"I felt OK because we were getting good looks; the shots simply weren't falling," Tustin Coach Rich Bossenmeyer said. "The key was that we stayed strong on the defensive end until our offense picked up. The biggest concern was their offensive rebounding, but we did a good job of keeping them off the glass and our matchup zone worked."
Deondre Bryant and Xavier Powell each scored 15 points for Tustin, which won its first CIF title since 1991.
Center Scott Woods scored 12 points, but star point guard Max McCoy made only two of 12 shots and finished with six points and eight rebounds for the sixth-seeded Highlanders (23-8), who lost the 2AA final to Inglewood last season.
"We thought we had it until five minutes to go," said McCoy, Royal's all-time leader in points and assists. "We just couldn't find our groove. It's heartbreaking to lose two years in a row."
La Verne Damien 54, Santa Margarita 40: Ayodeji Adedeji had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Jeremy Hemsley had 17 points and four assists as the second-seeded Spartans (25-6) outscored Santa Margarita 18-6 in the fourth quarter to win the Division 3AA title.
Devonte Klines had 18 points for the fifth-seeded Eagles (16-15), who led 23-21 at halftime.
San Pedro Rolling Hills Prep 50, Los Angeles Shalhevet 36: Sophomore center Jimbo Lull had 20 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the top-seeded Huskies, who closed on a 17-2 run in the 5A championship game.
Rolling Hills Prep (22-8) took an 8-0 lead, but Shalhevet pulled to within 23-20 at halftime. Aron Rudd's three-pointer put the Huskies in front to stay, 36-33, at the end of the third quarter. Joseph Fallas led Shalhevet (24-2) with 22 points.
In the 3AA girls' final, Mission Hills Alemany eased the pain of a double-overtime loss in last year's title game by routing Calabasas, 67-39. Hannah Johnson finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals, and Adaora Obi had 11 points for the top-seeded Warriors (27-5).
Megan Charles scored 14 points for the sixth-seeded Coyotes (20-9).