Championship weekend has arrived for high school basketball teams across Southern California. In total, there will be 26 championship basketball games taking place in the L.A. City and Southern Sections on Friday and Saturday.
Here are the five biggest storylines ahead of championship weekend:
Will red hot Mater Dei knock off Sierra Canyon?
Following a six loss regular season, Mater Dei earned the no. 7 seed in the Southern Section Open Division playoffs. That meant the Monarchs would play three road games and they’d most likely need to win all three to make the championship. Two weeks ago that didn’t seem likely.
But in game one, the Monarchs upset pool favorite Corona Centennial 66-58 in overtime thanks to Ryan Evans, Aidan Prukop and Nick Davidson all finishing in double figures. In game two, Mater Dei beat an Evan Mobley-led Rancho Christian team 76-71. Devin Askew scored 43 points in that game. And in game three, Wilhelm Breidenbach scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds to go along with Askew’s 18 points in a 65-46 win over Harvard-Westlake. Mission accomplished.
All of a sudden, Mater Dei is the hottest team in Southern California. They’ve won five in a rough against some of the best teams in the region. The Monarchs are getting contributions from everyone in their top seven, which hasn’t always been the case this season.
Sierra Canyon went undefeated in their pool as well with wins over St. John Bosco, St. Anthony and Etiwanda. They’re hot too. This game seems like a toss up.
Will Windward’s girls’ team get a three-peat?
When current UCLA point guard and former Windward star Charisma Osborne graduated following last year’s Southern Section championship win over Sierra Canyon, it was a logical to think that the Wildcats would take a step back in 2019-2020.
Not so fast! Vanessa Nygaard’s team is 24-4 and will be playing for a third straight Open Division Southern Section title on Friday against Mater Dei. Freshman Juju Watkins has had a fantastic season for the Wildcats and is a big reason why they’ve returned to the championship.
In an article earlier this month, Nygaard told the LA Times that Watkins, “isn’t not normal. She’s a game changer on the women’s side. We’re doing totally new things as a team because of her skill set.”
Will St. Francis pull of the impossible?
Raise your hand if you picked St. Francis to win Division 2AA in the Southern Section?
Either your hand stayed down, or you’re a liar.
In a loaded field that featured St. Bernard, Oak Park, San Gabriel Academy and Heritage Christian all on the same side of the bracket as St. Francis, it seemed nearly impossible for the Golden Knights to make a championship game, never mind win it.
St. Francis is going up against the top seed in the division in Santa Clarita Christian on Saturday at Azusa Pacific, the Golden Knights will once again be underdogs. Judging by how Todd Wolfson’s team has played in that spot this year, they’ll be fine with that. Senior guard Jason Gallant is St. Francis’ x-factor.
Can San Fernando and Westchester get revenge on Arleta and Fairfax in their City title games?
A year ago in the Division 4 LA City Championship game Arleta beat San Fernando 69-68 thanks to a last second bucket from Alejandro Gutierrez. The Mustangs beat the Tigers again this year in the regular season 86-82.
Last season Fairfax beat Westchester twice in league and then in the Open Division final. The Lions have beaten the Comets twice in league again this year, despite the fact that in the second meeting between the two teams Westchester led by 18 points in the first half.
Both San Fernando and Westchester will be DESPERATE for wins in their respective title games due to their recent struggles against their opponents. That will make these two games that much better.
Can Maywood CES, Mater Dei, Palisades, or Windward sweep?
These four schools all have their boys and girls teams competing for championships. If any of these teams swept it would be a good story, but if Palisades ended up winning both of their games, they would have the best. The Arnold family is represented by Caden on the boys’ side, and his sisters Sammie, Elise and Taylor on the girls’. That’s a lot of hardware potentially going to one home…