SACRAMENTO – If John Wooden was considered the Wizard of Westwood, Leonard De Coud might be the Wizard of Riverside.
De Coud turned a four-win team into a CIF state title contender in a matter of months. The J.W. North girls' basketball team came within a basket of winning the Division II state title at Power Balance Pavilion on Friday.
Archbishop Mitty won the CIF State Division II girls' basketball championship, 56-54, surviving a second-half, 3-point barrage from J.W. North. After the game, De Coud said his girls are not a one-season wonder.
“This is a win for this program,” De Coud said. “We will be back here next year. Count on it.”
J.W. North (30-6) hit five 3-pointers in the second half after going 0-for-4 in the first half. Akilah Martin drained three 3-pointers and scored 11 points for J.W. North. Her 3-pointer with 3:50 to play in the third quarter gave J.W. North a 29-28 lead, its first since the first quarter.
The Huskies had a 1-0 lead in the first quarter before Archbishop Mitty built a 9-4 edge. J.W. North trailed until the third quarter, but Archbishop Mitty never led by more than five points in the first half and let J.W. North hang around.
“We ran our offense,” De Coud said. “We got out of sync of what we normally do on offense.”
Archbishop Mitty (28-5) was up 22-19 at halftime. Neither team shot well in the first half. J.W. North was 8-for-25 (32 percent) from the field in the first half. Archbishop Mitty was 10-for-32 from the field, taking seven more shots, but making only 31 percent of them.
Emily Dinger opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give Archbishop Mitty a six-point lead, 25-19. But Brittany Crain answered right back for J.W. North with a 3-pointer. The two teams exchanged the lead four times before the end of the third quarter.
Archbishop Mitty started the final period with a two-point lead, 36-34, and maintained it through a high-scoring fourth quarter.
Archbishop Mitty won its fifth CIF state championship and its first since 2008.
“I think all of them are wonderful,” Archbishop Mitty coach Sue Phillips said. “Winning a state title is the pinnacle.”
Dinger and Kalyn Simon each scored 16 points to lead Archbishop Mitty. Kelli Hayes had 13 points and Amanda Lovely had eight points and 12 rebounds.
Simone De Coud led three players from J.W. North in double figures. She scored 14 and was 6-for-14 from the field. Kamille Diaz scored 11 points off the bench for J.W. North.
Despite winning 30 games and reaching the CIF State Division II championship game for the first time in school history, J.W. North did not win a Southern Section championship or a state title. But Leonard De Coud said he likes the direction his team is headed.
“They started believing in each other,” he said. “Last year, they were divided. You can’t win playing one of five. They just started believing in themselves and each other.”