Cesar Chavez High School (25-3) came into Friday evening's sectional playoff matchup with St. Mary's High School as winners of their last 21 games in a row, an amazing accomplishment this high school season. But you would not have known that by the looks of the Division-I, Section-4 Championship game on Friday.
St. Mary's (16-11) has peaked as a team at the right time of the season, and it showed in their match-up with Chavez, as the Knights comfortably defeated Chavez from almost start to finish, for a nice 66-46 victory. Make no mistake about it, the St. Mary's ballclub is led by the play of star 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Marcus Shavers. As Shavers performs at a high level, there is a direct influence on the Knight's chances of winning.
Shavers came up big in his team's big win on Friday as he applied consistent offensive pressure on the Chavez guards - scoring from almost everywhere on the floor and pretty much at will. You would have thought that the match-up between Shavers, a sophomore guard, and Chavez 6-foot senior guard Tarion May, among the best point guard prospects in the state's 2015 class, would have been a great contest. But instead, it was extremely one-sided, as May seldomly guarded Shavers, and Shavers was often left unattended as he got wide open on the perimeter often, and blew past Chavez defenders throughout the game.
The Chavez team, which is loaded with athletic talent, looked lost in their game plan throughout the game, and seemed to consistently take poor shots, while also not applying much defensive pressure on a St. Mary's team that lacked many ball handlers.
St. Mary's head coach Ty Amundsen is one of the elite coaches in the state, and he definitely seemed to have his Knights much more prepared for Friday evening's championship match-up. Chavez head coach Gary Lee is one of the nicest guys in the business, but I sincerely question his game plan for this game. The athleticism alone of the Chavez team should have created many problems for the Knights, but the Knights seemed to roll in this game, without a doubt.
Both teams played an even contest early in the game, and it wasn't until the second period that St. Mary's would break free from Chavez. After two consecutive assists from Shavers, including a three-pointer in the corner from 6-foot-3 junior guard Isaiah Walton, the Knights would take a 20-15 lead with 3:45 remainning in the first half.
St. Mary's would continue there momentum late in the second period - taking a nice 26 to 17 lead into halftime.
In the third period, Shavers would quickly come right back with a three-pointer to open the period. After another three-pointer from Shavers with 4:27 left to play in the third, St. Mary's would break open their biggest lead of the game - a 37 to 21 advantage over Chavez.
A frustrated Chavez team would climb back late in the third period, and bring the game back to a 10-point deficit to end the third period. But that is as far as Chavez would get, as the Knights would outscore Chavez 23 to 14 in the final period.
St. Mary's will now face the 3-time defending state champion, Corona Del Sol Aztecs on Saturday evening at 7PM @ Highland High School. The Knights will have their biggest test of the season, and will need excellent production from everyone wearing a Knights' jersey and polo shirt to have a chance to win. Chavez will look to get back to their winning ways in the state playoffs next week.
Recruiting Notes: Chavez senior guard Tarion May advised me after the game that he is currently hearing from Cal State Fullerton, Sheridan JC (WY), Saddleback JC (CA) and many of the local junior colleges in the ACCAC. May currently has a 2.8 CUM GPA and is still trying to earn a passing test score on his college entrance examination.
Chavez gifted 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior forward Isaiah Wilson is among the best sleeper prospects in the state and a superb athletic talent, although he still needs to develop in his overall understanding of the game. Wilson advised me that his current leader among colleges is South Mountain JC. Wilson has a 2.2 CUM GPA and has not received a passing test score yet.
St. Mary's promising young 6-foot-9 freshman post KY Hymes, while used sparingly on Friday evening, definitely made his presence felt for his team. In very limited action, Hymes blocked shots, ran the floor, rebounded and scored inside after the limited amount of touches that he received. Hymes has excellent potential for the future, and also a great attitude - on and off the floor. He will match-up with fellow superstar freshman prospect Marvin Bagley Jr. on Saturday evening.