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Bishop Montgomery advances to state final

Bishop Montgomery's Stephen thompson, Jr. puts up a shot under pressure in last Saturday's Southern California Regional boys' basketball final against Cantwell-Sacred Heart.
Bishop Montgomery's Stephen thompson, Jr. puts up a shot under pressure in last Saturday's Southern California Regional boys' basketball final against Cantwell-Sacred Heart.
Joseph Snyder

There were a total of four boys' and girls' basketball teams that reached last Saturday's Southern California Regional Championships in Ontario with one of them, Bishop Montgomery High's boys from Torrance, making the California state final.

The Knights advanced in Division IV after eliminating Cantwell-Sacred Heart High from Montebello, 66-56, at Colony High.

Bishop Montgomery led throughout most of the game, although a taller Cardinal squad, that featured two 6-foot-10 players in juniors Balsa Dragovic and Gligorije Rakocevic, were able to tie the Knights at 33 early in the third quarter.

That's when the quicker Bishop Montgomery squad went on a 15-4 run to lead, 48-37.

The Knights, who increased their record to 27-6, continued to be ahead by double digits throughout the remainder of the contest.

Long Beach State University-bound senior guard Justin Bibbins sparked Bishop Montgomery with a game-high 26 points, 17 of those in the second half and 10 in the 15-4 run. Junior Stephen Thompson, Jr. added 14 points.

The Knights continued to excel from the perimeter with eight three-point baskets, six of those in the second half.

Bishop Montgomery, which is in the state final for the first time since 2009, will face Moreau Catholic on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

In the boys' Open Division final, Westchester, which came off impressive victories over Riverside J.W. North (79-61 on March 14) and Redondo (76-67 on March 18) on the road, gave the United States' No. 1 ranked team Santa Ana Mater Dei all it could handle but fell short, 59-54, at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.

The Comets, who ended their season at 30-7, started out slow trailing 26-8 and 35-17, but rallied back and eventually took a six-point lead at 53-47 on a three-point basket by Elijah Stewart with 2:34 left in the game.

The Monarchs (35-0), though, finished the game with a 12-1 run behind three-time all-American Stanley Johnson, who had 19 points, including making 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Johnson is already headed to PAC 12 and NCAA Division I power University of Arizona.

Stewart, who will be playing basketball at nearby Loyola-Marymount University, led Westchester with 19 points, followed by Cameron Young with 10. Myles Stewart chipped in eight points.

Mater Dei goes on to face Oakland Bishop O' Dowd for the state crown Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Sleep Train Arena.

In girls' basketball action, Gardena Serra and West Torrance both lost their regional final. In the Division II, the Southern Section Divison IIA champion Warriors could not keep up with a very physical West Hills Chaminade in a 67-50 loss at the Citizens Bank Arena. The injury riddled Cavaliers fell to Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 59-52, at Colony High.

West trailed the Eagles by as many as 23 points (46-23) miedway in the third quarter, but cut Chaminade's lead to six (53-47) with 3:55 remaining in the game behind two free throws by junior guard Kayla Sato.

Forced fouls, however, plagued the Warriors as the Eagles pulled away, closing the contest with a 14-3 run.

West, which ended its best season ever at 33-5 with a roster that included only two seniors, was led by freshman Jasmine Jones with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Sato contributed 18 points, six rebounds and three steals. Amie Nelson finished with six points, those on two three-pointers.

The Warriors advanced with a 60-54 overtime win over Placentia El Dorado in a rematch of the March 8 Southern Section Division II final at Azusa-Pacific University, in the semifinal on March 18 at West.

An earlier injury to University of Southern California-bound senior Chyanne Butler already put her in doubt of playing in last Saturday's final against Chaminade. Butler played but lasted just 2:44 after a hard foul injured her ankle and she was out the remainder of the game.

Already with the injured ankle and foot in Serra's 55-40 semifinal victory over Junipero Serra High from San Juan Capistrano on March 18 at Serra, things only got worse for Butler.

Late in the third period, the Cavavliers also lost Chyann Richard to a concussion.

The Cavaliers, though, managed to stay close with the Trailblazers, including a 34-32 lead behind two free throws from Caila Hailey with 5:14 to go in the third quarter, and being tied at 38 after the period.

Fouls and missed layups against a physical Sierra Canyon squad, led by 6-foot-2 junior center-forward Kennedy Burke, plagued Serra in the fourth quarter as it was outscored 21-14.

For the Trailblazers, 14 of those points came from free throws, 10 of those by Cheyanne Wallace, who put in 12 points.

The Cavaliers, who ended their season at 25-5 after tying rival Bishop Montgomery for the Del Rey League championship and making the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Open Division playoffs before losing at eventual regional Open Division runner-up Etiwanda (losing 56-46 to Long Beach Poly in the final Saturday at the Citizens Bank Arena), were led by Cydney Bolton with 11 points, three assists and three steals, and Kayla Bibb with 10 points and four steals. Caila Hailey tallied nine points, six rebounds and three steals.

Sierra Canyon was led by Burke with 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. Alexis Griggsby totaled 15 points and five rebounds.

Hailey led Serra with 16 points and 15 rebounds in its win over San Juan Capistrano Serra.

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