Riverside North's Deshon Taylor used quick thinking and even quicker hands to save his team in the final, frenzied moments of Saturday night's Southern Section Division 2AA championship game.
The junior guard tipped the ball away from Villa Park's Kevin Olsen and Riverside North escaped with a 59-58 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Villa Park trailed by 14 points with 6:31 left but pulled to within one point on a basket by Lamont Tyler with 40 seconds left. The Spartans trailed by one point with five seconds left and had the ball out of bounds with the chance to take the lead. Olsen passed the ball to Brian Arcinas, who immediately gave it right back to Olsen along the sideline, but Taylor reached in and stole it with three seconds left and dribbled out the clock.
"We had our way for three quarters but give them credit — they showed heart and came back," North Coach Mike Bartee said. "I would've been unhappy with Deshon if he'd fouled him, but he didn't. It was a risky play, but it worked."
Dorian Butler led the way for North with 16 points and Taylor added 10. The victory was special for seniors Butler and Adrian Hughes, because their fathers also won section titles at North. Butler's dad Kelvin was a member of the Huskies' 3A title-winning team in 1984, while Hughes' dad Ronald played on the 1993 squad that beat Dominguez for North's last 2AA title.
Bellflower St. John Bosco 79, West Hills Chaminade 56: The top-seeded Braves dominated from the start, getting 23 points from Isaac Hamilton and 22 from Tyler Dorsey in the 3A final. Daniel Hamilton and Darien Williams each had 14 points for St. John Bosco (24-6), which qualifies for the Division III state playoffs but could be chosen to play in the new Open Division.
Chaminade cut its deficit to two points early in the third quarter, but the Braves put the game away with a 14-0 run highlighted by Isaac Hamilton's alley-oop dunk. St. John Bosco extended its lead to 25 points in the fourth quarter. Jack Williams had 16 points and Jaron Martin added 13 for the third-seeded Eagles (24-7).
"We've had doubters all year, so we always feel like we have something to prove," said Hamilton, who has signed with UTEP. "We win when it counts, and when we play like this, the sky's the limit."
Redondo 67, Westlake Village Westlake 63: Derek Biale made seven of 12 field goal attempts for 19 points and Ian Fox added 18 points and six assists as Redondo won the 2A title in for its 16th straight victory.
The score was tied 52-52 with six minutes left, but the second-seeded Sea Hawks (23-8) converted two steals into layups and added a free throw to take a seven-point lead. It was the third section title in four seasons for Redondo's first-year coach Reggie Morris, who won the 5AA title at St. Bernard last season and the 1A crown at Leuzinger in 2010.
"Defense is our calling card," Morris said. "Sixty points has been our magic number all season. We try to hold opponents under 60 and we came close today."
Grant Lozoya had 18 points and eight rebounds and Larry Bush added 18 points for the top-seeded Warriors (26-5).
Gardena Serra 70, La Verne Lutheran 52: Ron Freeman equaled his season high with 16 points, shooting five-for-five from the field and Ajon Jefferson added 15 points as the third-seeded Cavaliers (25-6) won their second consecutive 4AA championship.
Serra led from start to finish, taking a 36-22 halftime lead and increasing the margin to as many as 22 points in the second half. The loss snapped Lutheran's 18-game winning streak that culminated in a 63-59 victory over top-seeded and previously undefeated Bishop Montgomery in the semifinals. Skyler Williams had 20 points and fellow senior guard Jay Miller added 11 points for the Trojans (25-7), who lost to Serra 69-59 in last year's final.
"We watched tape and saw what [Lutheran] did to Bishop Montgomery, so the kids knew exactly what they needed to do," said Serra Coach Dwan Hurt, who has led the Cavaliers to seven section titles since 1993.
Santa Monica 66, Lake Forest El Toro 56: On a night when top scorer Jordan Mathews made only four of 18 shots for 13 points, Trevis Jackson had 17 points, Erron Vaughn had 11 and Spencer Cramer added eight as the second-seeded Vikings (26-6) took the 1A title. George Buaku scored 10 of his 12 points at the foul line and Sean Harman added 11 for the top-seeded Chargers (27-7), who cut their deficit to 59-53 with 1:01 left but got no closer.
Sherman Oaks Buckley 54, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 46: Tyler Coppin-Carter had 16 points and Austin Butler added 15 as the fourth-seeded Griffins (24-6) won the 5AA title at Santa Ana Mater Dei, marking Buckley's first basketball title since the school opened in 1933. Quinton Adlesh had 24 points for third-seeded Mission Prep (23-8).
Pacific Hills 74, Brentwood 65: Jahmel Taylor scored 21 points, Marcus Jackson had 18 and Adam Plax and Jonathan Mills each added 12 for the Bruins (24-4), who beat their Alpha League rivals for the second time in three meetings this season to claim the 4A title and fourth section title overall. Tra Holder scored 25 points for Brentwood (27-4).
Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep 47, Valencia Trinity Classical Academy 40: Rio Hondo Prep wins the Division 6 crown at Mater Dei.