Rolling Hills Prep's boys' basketball team from San Pedro won is back in CIF-Southern Section championship form by capturing the VA crown over Shalhevet from the Los Angeles Fairfax District, 50-36, in the finals Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Arena.
The Huskies, who are 22-8 overall and undefeated champions of the Coastal League, broke open a tight game by outscoring the Firehawks, who are 24-2 after winning the Mulholland League, 14-2, in the fourth quarter.
After Rolling Hills Prep began the game by scoring the first eight points and led by as many as nine points early in the second period, Shalhevet was able to take a few brief leads with the last one being at 34-33 late in the third quarter on a three-point basket by Jojo Failas, who led all scorers with 22 points.
From there, the Huskies ran off 15 consecutive points before the Firehawks scored their only two points on Failas' final basket with about a minute left in the game.
Rolling Hills Prep's 6-foot-11 sophomore center Jimbo Lull proved dominant with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. He has 105 blocked shots in the 30 games he played.
He also got help from Aron Rudd with 16 points and Eric Ambrose with 10.
Failas proved domiant for Shalhevet. He made three three-point baskets that helped the Firehawks take three leads at 24-23, 31-30 and 34-33, but the rest of the squad mustered just 14 additional points.
The Huskies started out with eight non-league and tournament losses, which included one to host Redondo 66-42, in the first round of the Redondo Sea Hawk Classic on Dec. 26. The Sea Hawks, who are also 22-8 overall after winning the Bay League, are playing in the Southern Section Division IIA finals against Westlake on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.
Another was to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in its tournament back on Nov. 30. The Mustangs were eliminated in the Division IIAA semifinals by top seed and host J.W. North, 80-55, on Tuesday in Riverside.
Also reaching the Southern Section finals for the boys were Redondo in the IIA and Gardena Serra in the IVAA.
The Sea Hawks made their first final since the 2006-07 season after eliminating Arroyo Grande, 55-41, in their semifinal on Tuesday at Redondo.
The Sea Hawks were led by junior guard Ian Fox with 16 points and senior guard Derek Biale with 15, including four three-point baskets. Redondo enters the championship game with a 15-game winning streak, including going 10-0 in the Bay League.
The Warriors reportedly have an outstanding guard combination. Westlake (24-4) is the top seed. The Warriors won the Marmonte League at 13-1.
Serra is knowing for peaking at the right time and it reached the finals by pulling away for a 74-62 victory over Encino Crespi last Friday at Serra.
The Cavaliers will take on La Verne Lutheran, which stunned host and top seed Torrance Bishop Montgomery 63-59 last Friday. The Knights entered the game ranked as high as second in the United States and No. 1 in California. They won their first 29 games before the loss.
It will also be the second straight year that Serra faces La Verne Lutheran for the Division IVAA championship. Last season, the Cavaliers topped the Trojans, 69-59, for the crown at the Anaheim Arena.
Keying Serra over Crespi was sophomore Ellis Salahuddin with a game-high 22 points, inlcuding making several key free throws down the stretch.
Ajon Efferson added 13 points, 10 of those in the third period. Tavrion Dawson contributed 12 points and five rebounds. Six-foot-11 senior center Emmanuel Ndumanya had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Richardson put in 10 points, seven of those in the first half.
In the CIF-Los Angeles City Section, Westchester made the Division I final with a 62-49 victory over Western League foe Palisades last Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Leading only 29-26 at halftime, the Comets pulled away in the second half.
Matthew Grant led Westchester (27-6) with 13 points and six rebounds. Tyler Batiste chipped in nine points and Tyler Hildreth tallied eight points and four steals.
The Comets will face Woodland Hills El Camino Real for the City title at Cal State Dominguez on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Gardena also advanced to the L.A. City Section IIA championship after edging No. 2 seed Sylmar, 49-48, in their semifinal last Friday at Venice High.
The Panthers move to the final where they will square off against top seeded John F. Kennedy High from Granada Hills Friday at 8 p.m. at the Roybal Learning Center in Downtown L.A.
Jalen Baldwin hit two free throws with three seconds left in the game that proved to be the difference in Gardena's win over the Spartans.
Dushone Brown, who has led the Panthers to a 16-13 record so far this season, led the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rudy Bell totaled 13 points, seven of those in the fourth quarter. Shane Carney added nine points.
All of these teams also qualify for the Southern California Regional playoffs, which start next Monday.
Windward routs Lady Cavs: After upsetting nationally ranked Windward, 82-79 in triple overtime, for the CIF-Southern Section Division IVAA title last year, Serra High's girls' basketball team was not nearly as successful against the, again, nationally rated Wildcats from Mar Vista on Wednesday at the Anaheim Arena.
Windward, which is now unbeaten at 30-0, took it to the Lady Cavaliers, 85-57, for the IVAA crown.
The hot shooting Wildcats let loose for a 47-23 halftime lead and Serra could hardly even threaten. Windward would lead by as many as 32 points in its fifth consecutive playoff rout.
Windward also rolled over Serra's other co-Del Rey League champion Playa del Rey St. Bernard, 77-46, in their semifinal last Friday at Windward.
The Wildcats are currently rated third in the nation by Maxpreps.
Windward hit at will in the first half, making nine three-point baskets and 12 for the game. Emily Surloff sparked the Wildcats with a game-high 26 points, including six three-pointers. Courtney Jaco chipped in 17 points, including five three-pointers.
Kristen Simon contributed 16 points.
Deandrea Toler had a fine game for the Cavaliers, who are 25-6, with 20 points, followed closely by Siera Thompson with 19. Caila Hailey tallied 10 points and six rebounds. Nautica Morrow totaled seven points.
Culver City High's girls basketball team advanced to their first final since 1999 after surprising top seed Orange Lutheran, 42-40,.on a buzzer beating basket by senior point guard Taylor Tanita in their CIF-Southern Section Division IIA semifinal last Saturday at Culver.
The Lady Centaurs will seek their second ever Southern Section championship, their only one in 1978, when they take on Murrieta Valley, a 60-56 overtime semifinal winner over Redondo Saturday at Murrieta, at the Anaheim Arena for the title Friday at 3:30 p.m.
In the CIF-L.A. City Section, the top seeds, Narbonne in Division I and Westchester in Division II advanced to Friday and Saturday's finals.
The Lady Gauchos (22-7) made the final against No. 3 ranked Fairfax by finishing off El Camino Real, 47-39, in their semifinal Saturday at Cal State Dominguez.
Narbonne led the entire game, despite being sluggish with several fouls, turnovers and missed layups.
Latecia Smith led the Gauchos with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six steals.
Brady added 15 points, followed by Lauryn Catchings with six.
Cora chan led the Conquistadors with 12 points.
Westchester made the Division II final after slipping past Garfield, 68-64, in their semifinal last Friday at Venice High.
The Lady Comets (27-7) were led by Atheana Jones with 22 points and Teddie Harris with 16. Dana Smith tallied 12 points.
Westchester will take on Granada Hills in the Division II championship game at 6 p.m. Friday at the Roybal Learning Center.
CIF Semifinal and Final Results:
Tuesday, Feb 26:
Southern Section Semifinals:
Division IAA: Mater Dei 65, Inglewood 48.
Division IIAA: Riverside J.W. North 80, Mira Costa 55.
Division IIA: Redondo 55, Arroyo Grande 41.
Division IIA: Culver City 42, Orange Lutheran 40; Murrieta Valley 60, Redondo 56 (Overtime).
Wednesday, Feb. 27:
Southern Section Final:
Division IVAA: Windward 85, Serra 57.
Thursday, Feb. 28:
Southern Section Final:
Division VA: Rolling Hills Prep 50, Shalhevet 36.
Sectional Championship Finals Schedule:
Friday, March 1:
L.A. City Section:
Division II at Roybal Learning Center:
Girls: Westchester vs. Granada Hills, 6 p.m.
Boys: Gardena vs. John F. Kennedy, 8 p.m.
Southern Section at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena:
Division IIA: Culver City vs. Murrieta Valley, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 2:
L.A. City Section at Cal State Dominguez Hills:
Girls: Narbonne vs. Fairfax, 6 p.m.
Boys: Westchester vs. El Camino Real, 8 p.m.
Southern Section at Anaheim Convention Center Arena:
Division IVAA: Serra vs. La Verne Lutheran, noon.
Division IIA: Redondo vs. Westlake, 2 p.m.