Boys' basketball: It's prediction time for championship games
It's time to make predictions about Saturday's CIF Southern California championship games. Open, Division I and II games are at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Division III and IV are at Colony High, also in Ontario. Division V is at San Diego Cathedral Catholic.
Etiwanda vs. Mater Dei: If defense wins championships, then Etiwanda is going to be celebrating late Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Eagles have been stoppers all season. They stopped Roschon Prince and Long Beach Poly. They stopped Westchester's 13-man wave. They stopped Stanley Johnson and Mater Dei in the 1AA final. The question is whether Mater Dei learned enough from the first meeting to be able to deal with the Eagles' aggressiveness and toughness. The pick: Etiwanda.
Loyola vs. Santa Monica: These teams know each other so well they could probably take the same bus to Ontario and laugh together. But once they get onto the court, it's going to be an all-out battle. Loyola is going to try everything to make sure Jordan Mathews doesn't score at will. Santa Monica is going to try to make sure Parker Jackson-Cartwright gets pressured so that he can't control the court. Can Trey Mason shoot well in an arena setting? Can Chris Smith block out 7-footer Thomas Welsh? Those are key questions to be answered. The pick: Loyola.
Redondo vs. Riverside North: Top-seeded North has been cruising along and winning when needed. The Huskies have a dynamic junior guard in Deshon Taylor. Redondo, a winner of 19 consecutive games, has come out of nowhere to be within one win of playing for a state championship. The pick: Redondo.
Chaminade vs. St. Augustine: The good news about playing late into March is that freshmen have gained valuable experience. Trevor Stanback, Chaminade's 6-10 freshman, continues to improve, and combine him with junior Jack Williams and senior Jaron Martin and the Eagles have a formidable group. But St. Augustine is known for its defense and has impressive nonleague wins. Defense is the key. The pick: St. Augustine.
Bishop Montgomery vs. Pacific Hills: Bishop Montgomery would have been in the Open Division except for an upset loss to La Verne Lutheran in the 4AA playoffs. The Knights are going to be celebrating in Sacramento next week, even though Pacific Hills has the best trio of guards in Southern California. The pick: Bishop Montgomery.
San Gabriel Academy vs. San Diego Horizon: San Gabriel has proven it can play well anywhere. The Eagles won at San Luis Obispo Mission Prep. Josh Ajayi, a 6-foot-6 junior, keeps getting better. The pick: San Gabriel Academy.
-- Eric Sondheimer