#2 Army-Navy 63, Cantwell Sacred Heart 49 – The teams in the Division IV Southern California playoffs that aren’t familiar with the Warriors are in for a real shock when they face off with them on the court. In warmups you’d think it be a little intimidating to look across the court and see 7-foot-1 center CHEIKH N’DIAYE, but on the other hand you might think DEVIN WATSON is a little smaller than advertised. Big or small both their games speak volumes.
The 15-seeded Cardinals actually played a close game, as they trailed 32-31 at halftime, but just like in C.I.F. title game, Watson took over in the second half. The Coastal League Player of the Year nailed a pair of big treys in the third quarter, on his way to a game-high 32 points and N’Diaye once again dominated the paint grabbing 14 rebounds as the Warriors opened up a double-digit lead to pull away. Next up for Army-Navy is a matchup with the 10-seed, Encino Crespi, who took down 7-seeded LA LACES 58-38 in somewhat of a surprise.
MVP – Devin Watson – ANA
Most Improved – Wes Fishburne – BISH
Sixth Man of the Year – Darren Carrington Jr. – HOR
First Team All-Coastal League
G – Devin Watson ANA
G – Jamere Jones BISH
F – Grant Corsi SFC
F – Evan Fitzner FP
C – Cheikh N’Diaye ANA
Second Team All-Coastal League
G – Sage Burmeister LJCD
G – Cody Underwood HOR
F – Ziad Damanhoury LJCD
F – Brian Finley SFC
C – Jordan Poland LJCD
G – Markel Byrd HOR
G – Justin Byrd SFC
F – Akhadj Diatta ANA
F – Wes Fishburne BISH
C – Bryce Fitzner FP
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (3/1/2013) – For two and a half quarters Mater Dei had crusaded their way to a picture perfect game plan against #1 seed Army-Navy. They held a 10-point advantage midway through the 3rd quarter and had the Warriors on the ropes of losing their first game in 12 tries, but this time it was on the biggest stage in the San Diego C.I.F. Division IV championship game Friday afternoon at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.
Army-Navy’s senior DEVIN WATSON stands only six feet tall on a good day, but his floor general skills are nothing short of Avery Johnson, who ordered around Midshipmen David Robinson for years. He’s also been one of the most sought after recruits in the county with his ball-handling and scoring abilities he’s flaunted in this, his senior year. On top of all that he’s one of the most patient point guards you will ever see on the high school level.
In the end Watson was the “Ultimate Warrior,” acing his final test and proving it was nothing more but elementary. Not only did he ignite a 15-1 run – against a foul plagued Crusaders squad – he also finished with a flurry, turning a double-digit deficit upside down and sailing Army-Navy’s ship to an impressive 56-50 come-from-behind victory.
Mater Dei shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and built a 14-point lead, even with 6-foot-6 captain Robert Harris only logging 2 minutes of playing time as he collected 3 early fouls. On the flip side the Warriors seemed seasick from the overall vast environment shooting 21 percent after two quarter. In fact, after 6 minutes of play they had more turnovers than points (6-3) and they appeared to be on the ropes with only a puncher’s chance of victory.
“Our shots just weren’t falling for us early on,” Watson said of his 2-for-9 first half shooting performance. “Once I got a little more comfortable I got into a rhythm and it was just one bounce and pop.”
The Crusaders got a great game out of Iman Chatman, who scored 25 points and looked like a young Michael Jeffrey Jordan wearing number 23 with a jumper smoother than silk, but the foul trouble combined with the Warriors momentum eventually did them in.
Watson connected on three consecutive treys and when he missed on the fourth the Oregon State-bound CHEIKH N’DIAYE grabbed one of his 11 rebounds and slammed it home with a follow-up jam, making it a 51-41 contest.
“Slam dunks are always fun,” admitted N’Diaye who finished the game with his 17th double-double of the year (15 pts, 11 reb, 5 blk). “To be honest I’d rather give one of my teammates an assist than slam one home.”
Spoken like a true 7-foot-1 center than can dunk with ease and gets bored with something 95 percent of the U.S. population only wishes they could do.
Down 9 with three minutes to play Mater Dei’s Shumpert nailed two 3-pointers and a long-range two for 8 quick points, cutting the lead to 51-50.
Army-Navy’s head coach TOM TARATINO called timeout to calm his troops and whatever he said worked…
In a span of 14 seconds Watson drew a double-team and dished it inside to N’Diaye for an easy layup. He then challenged Shumpert in a full-court press and turned him over, converting it into a layup and sealed the victory.
“Devin is just so good and nifty with the ball I think he sometimes tries to be much to be too unselfish,” stated Taratino. “We’ve gone up against a lot of Pac-12 kids this season and his talent is far superior than anything I’ve seen and it’s not even close.”
Army-Navy: Devin Watson 22 (7 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl), Cheikh N’Diaye 15 (11 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl, 5 blk), Kendrick Azubuike 8 (2 reb, 2 stl), Akhadj Diatta 8 (1 ast, 1 stl), Caleb Morris 2 (1 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl), Brad Nowakowski 1 (1 reb), Mitch Kohler (1 reb)
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (3/1/2013) – Going from a small high school gym to a big venue like Viejas Arena at San Diego State can rattle even the best of shooters. Horizon and Foothills Christian came into Friday’s (Mar. 1) San Diego C.I.F. Division V title game combining to win the last 7 titles, with the Knights holding a 6-1 advantage.
The Panthers won the previous matchup this season, 70-69, on a last second layup by MARKEL BYRD, but no such heroic effort was needed this time around as they forced 17 turnovers and ended the game on a 13-3 run to win the championship 53-37.
“We went back and watched the film from the first time we played them and our defense wasn’t that good,” Byrd admitted after stuffing the stat sheet with 10 points, 6 boards, 8 assists, 5 steal and 2 blocked shots. “We didn’t pressure them like we wanted to and today that was our main focus.”
The phrase “Byrd passes to DARREN CARRINGTON JR.” has become decrepit to Panthers’ faithful over their four year careers – having heard it over-and-over again – but the two joined forces to put the nail in the coffin for some championship bling.
Together they combined for 12 steals with 8 coming in second half. Byrd turned one into a thunderous jam to get the crowd amped and turned another into an alley-oop layup by Carrington for a 3-point play, raising the Panthers’ momentum to full capacity.
“Markel and I have been playing together for years,” explained Carrington. “That sort of thing just comes natural to us at this point. We just go out there and have fun together on the court. No doubt though…our main focus of the day was our defense.”
That Horizon defense limited the Knights to 31.7 percent shooting from the field and held a team with 195 3-pointers on the season to just 1-for-12 from long-range.
“To be honest I think just being in this big environment held them to one 3-pointer because those guys can shoot,” chuckled Horizon head coach TYRONE HOPKINS. “We really did an excellent job of making other guys (besides freshman sensation T. J. Leaf) beat us.”
Senior captain CODY UNDERWOOD saved his best for last scoring 9 of his game-high 15 points in the 4th quarter. No bigger shot than his lone make from downtown – out of seven attempts – on the assist from his younger brother sophomore ETHAN UNDERWOOD.
“Honestly shooting here was one of the most difficult things I’ve done shooting wise,” Cody stated. “The bleachers are so deep and tall they just get in your head.”
That just makes what the Aztecs can do in front of “The Show” all that more impressive…
Horizon: Cody Underwood 15 (9 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk), Markel Byrd 10 (6 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl, 2 blk), Ethan Underwood 9 (5 reb, 3 stl), Darren Carrington Jr. 5 (10 reb, 2 ast, 7 stl), Donte Cretain 5 (4 reb), Eric Harris 5 (3 reb), Micah Geoglein 3 (1 stl), Jacob Beneveti 1, Jasper Ryserdorph (1 reb)
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (2/27/2013) – Whenever there is a bracket with absolutely no lower seeds taking down a higher seed, it’s often referred to as “chalk,” because when you are filling out your bracket you don’t need to think about upsets and “Cinderella teams.” Just chalk it up as a victory for the better team.
That’s exactly how this year’s San Diego C.I.F. playoffs have been for both Division IV and V brackets.
Give a lot a credit to the playoff seeding committee because for once they just might look like they know what they’re doing. How many times are you ever going to be able to say that again in your life?
(1) Army-Navy 59, (4) Santa Fe Christian 53 – Forty three days ago the Warriors held a 17-point lead over La Jolla Country Day heading into the fourth quarter in their first league contest of the season. Then they drew a blank – as in zero points – while giving up 18 in the quarter to lose by one. They took that loss to heart.
“My job as the floor general is to make sure that type of thing never happens again,” senior point guard and captain DEVIN WATSON said after scoring 20 points. “That game really woke us up and lit a fire underneath us to get where we want to go, but we aren’t there completely yet.”
For the third time this season the Eagles proved they could hang with the Warriors, but they all ended in defeat…
GRANT CORSI scored a game-high 25 for the Eagles, but the game belonged to Army-Navy’s 7-foot-1 center CHEIKH N’DIAYE – who dominated the paint on both sides of the floor – collecting 18 rebounds and 3 blocks.
(2) Mater Dei 49, (3) Francis Parker 43 – The Crusaders coasted through the Mesa League this year going unscathed at 10-0. When they got their chance against a Coastal League team it was the same result. Iman Chatman led the way for Mater Dei with 17 points and Robert Harris had 10. The Chatman vs. Watson match-up will be a fun one to watch in the DV finals, but give the inside edge to N’Diaye, who has 5 inches on Harris.
(1) Horizon 62, (5) Calvin Christian 45 – The Crusaders were the only lower seed (5) to beat a higher seeded Tri-City Christian (4) team in either bracket, but in the long run that meant absolutely nothing to Panther senior CODY UNDERWOOD. Pacing Horizon with a game-high 20 points he also received help from MARKEL BYRD (14 pts) and MICAH GEOGLEIN (10 pts). DARREN CARRINGTON JR. kept the glass clean for the Panthers by collecting 11 boards and they must now face the daunting task of taking down freshman sensation T.J. Leaf for the second time this season when they face off with Foothills Christian for all the marbles. The previous match-up was won by Horizon on a last second layup by Byrd.
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (2/23/2013) – During the regular season of Coastal League play there were essentially three tiers of teams. The upper class was obviously Army-Navy, the middle class consisted of SFC, Parker, Horizon and the lower class was Bishop’s and LJCD. Through two rounds of the playoffs the same mold has stayed true to form.
(1) Army-Navy 62, (8) Bishop’s 38 – The Warriors had swept the season series between these two teams by an average margin of 20.5 points, so the outcome in this one wasn’t much of a surprise. The biggest shocker was the stifling defensive performance they did against the Knights JAMERE JONES, who came into the game averaging 27.3 points over his last 7 games, holding him to 14 points. Army-Navy dominated the boards by out-rebounding the Knights 34-14, led by CHEIKH N’DIAYE and AKHADJ DIATTA, each swiping 12 boards. DEVIN WATSON led all scorers with 21.
(4) Santa Fe Christian 52, (5) La Jolla Country Day 37 – After winning the Division IV championship last year the Torreys’ lack of depth seemed to be their downfall this season. SAGE BURMEISTER is a scoring machine, but the Eagles, for the third time this season, kept him in check with a box-and-one strategy. SFC is one of the county’s best shooting teams and they nailed seven treys. COLE NEEDHAM (6 pts), BRIAN FINLEY (10 pts) and GRANT CORSI (21 pts) each hit a pair and JACK LANBORG (3 pts) made one. The Eagles now have to go on the road and try to take down #1 Army-Navy on the road to make it to Viejas Arena for the Div. IV championship game, but unlike their previous two losses to the Warriors, they will be playing this one at full strength.
(3) Francis Parker 63, (6) Imperial 38 – Head coach JIM TOMEY thought his Lancers squad had an easy road to a big semifinals match-up with Mater Dei and he was exactly right. EVAN FITZNER scored a game-high 25 points, ANDREW CROSS chipped in with 11 and PAULO CRUZ had 10.
(1) Horizon 77, (8) Vincent Memorial 32 – The ending to the Division V championship game is all but inevitable. They might as well not even play the semifinal round this Wednesday and just fast forward to Friday’s Horizon-Foothills Christian rematch for all the marbles. The two teams are winning their playoff games by an average of 42 points so let’s just cut to the chase already. CODY UNDERWOOD led the Panthers with 14 points, JACOB BENEVETI had 11 and NICK MOYER scored 10.
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (2/20/2013) – The Coastal League schools – as expected – flexed their muscle in the first round of the 2013 C.I.F playoffs. The closest game was still a 21 point triumph, but now looming in the distance is the knockout round this Saturday, in which two teams at the very least will end their season.
(1) Army-Navy 77, (16) The Pruess School 21 – In what was the easiest game to predict, the Warriors had no trouble extending their win-streak to 10 games. DEVIN WATSON had 17 points and AKHADJ DIATTA chipped in with 12. The Army-Navy starters only saw limited action, as the game got out-of-hand early. The Tritons didn’t reach double digits in any quarter and trailed 48-12 at halftime. CHEIKH N’DIAYE and DAVID TORRES each had 10 points.
(8) Bishop’s 91, (9) Madison 50 – The Knights are playing their best basketball at the right time of year. Usually the 8-9 match-up proves to be a much tighter contest, but Madison ran into a buzz saw in the first round, as Bishop’s used a 33-point second quarter en-route to their highest point total of the season. No stats were provided, but it’s guaranteed JAMERE JONES had a great night.
(5) La Jolla Country Day 60, (12) Guajome Park 39 – No one was sure what to make of the Frogs. They came into the playoffs as the 12 seed after steam-rolling through the Citrus League undefeated, but the Torreys got jumpy in the first round and leap-frogged past Guajome Park behind 21 points from SAGE BURMEISTER and JORDAN POLAND‘s 19.
(4) Santa Fe Christian 82, (13) Mountain Empire 32 – The Eagles got some good news in seeing JUSTIN BYRD take the floor for the first time in 6 games, but his return wasn’t really needed as they jumped out to a 25-5 first quarter advantage and never looked back. Twelve different players got in to the box score for Santa Fe Christian, led by GRANT CORSI with 20 points. BRIAN FINLEY (14), JACK LANGBORG (12), and HARRISON WALLIS (11) also reached double figures for the Eagles.
(3) Francis Parker 72, (14) Clairemont 45 – The Lancers’ EVAN FITZNER was way too much for the Chieftans to handle, as he scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Parker got the benefit of being in the lower side of the bracket, which means they wouldn’t have to face another Coastal League foe until the finals. DAVID LEBARON chipped in with 17 points and ANDREW CROSS scored 11.
(1) Horizon 70, Calvary Christian 46 – As the only Coastal League team playing in Division V. the Panthers opened up their playoffs by proving they were just flat out quicker then the Lions. CODY UNDERWOOD had a game-high 21 points and Horizon forced 22 turnovers. After receiving a much needed boost from DARREN CARRINGTON JR midway through the season, the Panthers – just like Bishop’s – is playing it’s best ball of the season. Their toughest test in their way of making the finals is Tri-City Christian (23-3). Two of their losses this season were at the hands of The Rock Academy, a Warriors team that fell to Horizon by 12 earlier in the year, before they got Carrington back…
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (2/16/2013) – With the ending of the regular season coming to a close it’s now time for the San Diego C.I.F. playoffs to begin and it starts with today’s playoff seeds being announced. It’s no doubt Army-Navy will deservedly earn the #1 seed in the Division IV bracket. The Warriors (23-4) finished the season by winning their final 9 games and cruised to the Coastal League championship. Point guard DEVIN WATSON is better than advertised and CHEIKH N’DIAYE dominates the paint with little trouble, so it will be extremely tough for anyone in San Diego to knock them off, but not impossible.
The next highest seed from the Coastal League will most likely be Francis Parker (14-11) with the #3 seed. The Lancers went undefeated in league play, except for going win-less (0-4) against the likes of Horizon and Army-Navy. The one advantage of being the #3 seed is they won’t have to face Army-Navy in the playoffs, unless they make it to USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion for the Div. IV Final.
Santa Fe Christian (18-8) has had an unlucky road to travel the past few weeks. The injury bug struck them the hardest when senior captain JUSTIN BYRD severely injured his ankle in pregame warm-ups. Superstar GRANT CORSI has since picked up the slack, but both need to be on the floor for them to flourish. Regarded as one of the best shooting teams in all of San Diego County, gives the Eagles a puncher’s chance against any team they may face. It’s no doubt though, that if they want their dreams of taking home the Div. IV hardware home, they will definitely need Byrd to swoop back into the rotation.
Bishop’s (11-14) and La Jolla Country Day (10-14) are similar teams, that could knock off higher seeded Div. IV teams on the road, without batting an eye. Both have the fire power behind their star players – for the Knights that’s senior guard JAMERE JONES (24.8 ppg) and the Torreys’ SAGE BURMEISTER (20.5 ppg) – both are more than capable of getting red hot and carrying their respective teams to a victory over anyone.
The only Coastal team in Div. V is Horizon (13-11) and they will most likely be the #1 seed. It’s no doubt that their league opponents are night-and-day better than anybody else had to face this year. Their overall record is a bit misleading. Once they got the services of DARREN CARRINGTON JR. on the floor, they knocked then #2-ranked Hoover and got an obvious pep in their step. The will most likely be playing at USD for the championship in a rematch with Foothills Christian – a team they beat by a single point – after MARKEL BYRD went the length of the floor for a last second layup…a la Tynus Edney.
By Andrew Smith
La Jolla (2/1/2013) – It’s been an up-and-down season for the Bishop’s boys basketball team to say the least, but on Friday night against their Coastal League rival – La Jolla Country Day – it all came together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as they put together their most impressive victory of the season with a 77-38 emphatic beat down.
“This is definitely our biggest win of the season so far,” said Coastal League scoring leader (25.3 ppg) senior JAMERE JONES after scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. “We were really successful at passing the ball today and putting pressure on their guards, which lead to turnovers and fast break opportunities for us…easy points.”
The Knights stormed out to a 24-6 advantage after one quarter and never looked back as Bishop’s (7-11, 1-5) forced twenty one La Jolla Country Day (8-11, 1-5) turnovers and out-shot the Torreys from the field– 56.4 to 28.9 percent – which led to a running clock in the 4th quarter.
“We’ve had 4 buzzer-beaters that we have lost in the final minutes, if not seconds,” Knights head coach MATT NIEHUES recalled. “It’s just heartbreak after heartbreak it seems like, but this is the best game we’ve played in a month with everyone here and healthy.”
Bishop’s had the hot hand from the outside, as they torched the Torreys zone with ten 3-pointers. Jones accounted for two, while SAHIL SHETH went 4-of-5 from deep. CONNOR MCKROSKEY knocked down a trio and ERIC YU connected on one.
The battle in the paint was also painted black by the Knights thatnks to WES FISHBURNE…The 6-foot 195-pound senior scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, but his presence down low painted the Knight black for LJCD.
The Torreys have the clear-cut size advantage, but Fishburne made the paint his own “Matrix” and proved he was “the one” by snatching 11 boards – compared to the LJCD big men (six-foot-seven 320 and 6-foot-8 330) combining for only 9 rebounds between the two.
“We’re obviously not as big as them inside so it’s definitely important to play to our strengths,” Fishburne diagrammed. “We have to run and get out into transition to try and tire them out and it worked. To beat the defending Div. IV C.I.F. champs the way we did…I was pretty proud.”
Bishops: Jamere Jones 23 (4 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl), Connor Mckrosky 18 (1 reb, 5 ast, 5 stl), Sahil Sheth 12 (2 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk), Wes Fishburne 11 (11 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl), Eric Yu 9 (7 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk), Jake Dempsey 4 (3 reb), Matt Lizanich (1 reb, 1 ast), Brendan Kaiser (1 reb, 1 ast), Brian Tunnel (1 reb, 1 stl)
La Jolla Country Day: Sage Burmeister 17 (3 reb, 1 stl), Jordan Poland 6 (4 reb, 1 ast), Bruce Edwards 6 (5 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk), Ziad Damanhoury 5 (5 reb), Miles Weber 3 (3 reb, 1 ast), Matt Yandel 1 (3 reb), Louie Mack (4 reb), Trevor Smith (3 reb, 1 stl)
By Andrew Smith
Solana Beach (2/1/2013) – It was the kind of dreadful thing that can resonate in your head and drive you crazy if you let it. In their Coastal League opener, Army-Navy went scoreless in the fourth quarter and was outscored by La Jolla Country Day 17-0 to lose by one. Since that moment, the two teams have gone in the opposite directions. The Torreys haven’t win a league game since and the Warriors refuse to add another blemish to their loss column.
After taking down #1 ranked Cathedral Catholic, in the MLK Showcase, Army-Navy collected their 4th straight league victory and fifth overall decision in a row with an impressive showing from their two main stars, taking down Santa Fe Christian 64-53.
“We took that LJCD loss hard and I think about it every game,” Warriors guard DEVIN WATSON admitted after scoring a game-high 29 points – his 16th time reaching the 20+ plateau this season. “I’m gonna make sure that’s never going to happen again.”
The Eagles (16-6, 4-2), however, more than held their own against #2 ranked Army-Navy (19-4, 5-1) and trailed by only 4 at intermission. After the break Oregon State-bound 7-foot 1-inch center CHEIKH N’DIAYE was hard to stop inside as he finished the game with 20 points, 24 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
“Santa Fe is very athletic and the best shooting team in the league,” said N’Diaye. “Devin is our leader though and he tightened down the game.”
Santa Fe Christian benefited from being an excellent outside shooting team, knocking down nine 3-pointers, but lost the services of senior guard JUSTIN BYRD after he rolled an ankle in pre-game warm-ups. Had he played, he would’ve taken on the duties of guarding Watson.
“Losing Justin was just losing a player, he’s the heart of our team,” Eagles head coach CHAD BICKLEY stated. “Watson is the hardest guy to guard that we’ve played. It just seems he’s always one step ahead of you.”
“I was disappointed Byrd got hurt because you want to compete against good players,” said Watson. “With or without him this was a big game that we needed to win. Honestly I just hope his ankle gets better.”
GRANT CORSI led the charge for SFC with 20 points, 7 boards and 3 rejections. COLE NEEDHAM nailed four treys, while JACK LANGBORG and BRIAN FINLEY each connected on two of their own.
Army-Navy: Devin Watson 29, Cheikh N’Diaye 20, Akhadj Diatta 5, Brad Nowakowski 4, Caleb Morris 3, David Torres 3
Santa Fe Christian: Grant Corsi 20, Cole Needham 12, Brian Finley 12, Jack Langborg 6, Dom Burtech 2, Will Finnerty 1