CIF Division II State Finals
Friday 8 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento
(1) La Costa Canyon (34-2) vs. (1) San Jose Archbishop Mitty (30-3)
Archbishop Mitty returns to Sacramento for the second straight season looking to defend its Division II state title. The Monarchs earned the top seed in the Northern California bracket after winning their third Central Coast Section Division II championship in a row, and advanced to the finals by beating Newark Memorial 63-58 in the Northern California regional finals last Saturday.
“They’re a really good team – they’re a well-oiled machine and they have all the parts,” said LCC head coach Dave Cassaw.
West Catholic League champion Archbishop Mitty is ranked second in the state by MaxPreps and third by Cal-Hi Sports, and enters the finals riding an 18-game winning streak. The Monarchs played in the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic National Division this season and are led by 6-foot-7 junior forward Aaron Gordon, one of the most dynamic players in the nation.
“Gordon can do everything – he brings it up at point guard sometimes, he rebounds, he dunks like Blake Griffin. He’s got it all and he’s really talented,” Cassaw said. “We haven’t played a team that has a force like Gordon – you just don’t see that.”
Gordon is a member of the USA Basketball Developmental National Team and is currently ranked third in the nation in ESPNU Super 60 rankings for the class of 2013. LCC senior guard David Travers said the key to limiting Gordon will be preventing his offensive rebounds.
“He’s going to score what he’s going to score because he’s such a versatile player,” Travers said. “He’s going to be able to get whatever he wants and we can’t control him, but we can try to contain him.”
Archbishop Mitty flanks Gordon with a trio of seniors – 6-foot-6 forward Thomas Peters, 6-foot-5 forward Neil Vranicar, and 6-foot point guard Jack Biebel. The Monarchs like to get out in transition, and have a handful of good outside shooters.
“I was really impressed with how well they run their stuff – they really execute,” Cassaw said. La Costa Canyon will have its hands full defensively, and will rely on offensive execution to keep pace with Archbishop Mitty. The Mavericks need to shoot well to have a shot at a first state title.
“We can’t let them take us out of our game – we just have to play our game, play at our flow, play with our rhythm and just execute our stuff and get open shots,” said LCC senior forward Matt Shrigley.
Archbishop Mitty presents a tough challenge for La Costa Canyon on both ends of the floor. The Mavericks will need to bring their best game of the season to dethrone the defending state champion Monarchs.
“We just have to keep being who we are – a group of guys that plays together and achieves together,” Cassaw said. “We have a lot of guys with talent, but they make this team better because they play so well together.
“That has to be our formula – we have to be a better team.”