AZUSA — This one was never close. No. 1 seed Santa Clarita Christian played strong defense and used their depth effectively on offense to beat St. Francis 61-39 to win the Division 2AA Southern Section boys basketball championship on Saturday. Four Cardinals finished in double figures, led by junior Josh O’Garro who had 17 points. Below are three observations.
LAYING OFF O’GARRO A MISTAKE FOR ST. FRANCIS
O’Garro was blunt when asked about his thoughts on how St. Francis defended him on Saturday.
“I thought it was an insult,” the junior said.
The Golden Knights backed off of O’Garro and he made them pay, hitting two of his three attempts from downtown.
St. Francis head coach Todd Wolfson said that letting O’Garro shoot came from what they saw on film.
“It just happened to be that today was his day to make some shots,” Wolfson said. “We left him open a little bit to see what he could do from three.”
SANTA CLARITA DOMINATES DEFENSIVELY
The Cardinals didn’t allow St. Francis to hit a field goal in the second quarter. At halftime, Santa Clarita Christian led 27-13. St. Francis didn’t make a three in the first half and had just one in the game.
“We really worked to make sure we repped all of their sets and their plays and then we wanted to combine that with going hard,” Santa Clarita Christian head coach James Mosley said. “We knew they were a great shooting team so we focused on really trying to keep them out of the paint so the windows for their shooters wouldn’t be as clean.”
KALEB LOWERY HAS STRONG GAME
Santa Clarita Christian senior Kalen Lowery finished with 13 points and 11 boards.
“The big fella inside just picked us apart,” Wolfson said of Lowery. “We have to give him credit. He was relentless on the glass.”
In the fourth quarter with the game well in Santa Clarita Christian’s control, a St. Francis player began jawing with Lowery. The Cardinal senior simply pointed to the scoreboard.
“That was a good feeling,” Lowery said. When they’re going against you and you’re going against them, it’s competitive. They want to talk, you want to talk, it’s a fun environment. Being up by a big score was a good feeling.”