And so it begins, March Madness, at the high school level.
Fans of boys’ basketball, regardless of whether it’s diehard or causal, we highly recommend that you head down to the Honda Center at some point Saturday and sneak in a game, or two, of the Southern Section championships taking place in Anaheim.
All told, six title games will take place at the venue over the course of the day. The early session, in particular, has some interesting matchups. Plenty will be at stake, namely a championship trophy, the one piece of hardware everyone covets.
That said, let’s take a look at who’s who and what to expect.
For those up at the crack of dawn, Gardena Serra (29-2) and Compton Centennial (25-5) are set to tip-off at 9 a.m. The showdown promises to be an entertaining affair, worth waking up a tad bit early for. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see Deonte Burton. The 6-foot-1 senior for the Apaches is as dynamic as they come, a tremendous scorer who’s considered one of the West Coast’s top unsigned prospects. Serra is no slouch and counters with the talented backcourt tandem of Vaughn Autry and Keith Shamburger. The guard play figures to be the difference in this one.
Shortly thereafter, Murrieta Valley (26-4) and Compton (18-12) take the court, scheduled for 10:45 a.m. The Knighthawks have made a rather remarkable run to the finals, upsetting top-seeded Summit and fourth-seeded Alta Loma en route to the championship game. It doesn’t appear as if anyone can stop them. The Tarbabes would like to think otherwise. Cliff Sims Jr. & Co. come in with plenty of confidence after shocking second-seeded Edison in the semifinals. When all is said and done, one of these Cinderella teams is going to realize its dreams.
No one in Southern California is hotter than top-seeded Rialto Eisenhower (27-5), which enters its 12:30 p.m. game against Pasadena (24-6) with 18 consecutive victories. Picking your poison against the Eagles is tricky given the fact that they have several players capable of scoring in double digits. Focusing attention on any one individual could prove costly. For the Bulldogs to remain close, Steven Adams will have to play a prominent role. Make no mistake, all signs point to the 6-foot-9, 230- pound post player being capable. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.
Santa Monica (24-6) is another one of those teams that was supposed to be on the outside looking in at this stage. The eighth-seeded Vikings didn’t stand much of a chance against fourth-seeded Colony or top-seeded Chino Hills. But low and behold, here they are, in the 2:15 p.m. championship game against Leuzinger (23-6). Amir Garrett might be an underclassman, but the 6-foot-6 junior certainly doesn’t play like he has limited experience at the varsity level. If he approaches his averages, 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, the Olympians should take home the title.