SANTA ANA, Calif. — One of the Golden State’s premier single-day boys’ basketball events — the 28th Nike Extravaganza — spanned 11 games Saturday at Mater Dei’s Meruelo Athletic Center.
That’s a lot of basketball.
Stay tuned throughout the day for updates on every game, with the premier contest featuring the state No. 1, defending CIF Open Division champion Corona Centennial vs. Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) starting at 9 p.m (Tipoff was actually 10:10 p.m.). .
Liberty had defeated California powers Harvard-Westlake, the state’s No. 2 team, and No. 9 (Sherman Oaks) Notre Dame.
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CENTURY 90, FREEDOM 64
The marquee matchup even had a little spice – at times – with the Huskies’ Jared McCain and Liberty’s Dedan Thomas battling it out in the backcourt.
Two of the best at their positions in their respective classes. McCain, a senior, went to Duke, and Thomas, a junior, with offers in the double digits.
However, in the end, Centennial was too deep and too strong.
McCain had a solid all-around game with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. It was junior Eric Freeny who paved the way for the huskies. He finished with 34 points, including seven 3-pointers.
“My brother overwhelmed me a bit because he’s tougher,” Freeny said. “He shouldn’t have to do this. I should get mad from the start so I can play better.”
Senior UCLA signee Devin Williams added 22 points, including 12 for six thunderous dunks.
The Huskies (23-3), the highest-ranked team in the SBLive Power 25 rankings, have beaten teams from eight states this season. They had already ticked Nevada off but were prepared for Liberty to be a challenge, especially in the backcourt.
Thomas, 6-foot-1, led Liberty (13-8) with 19 points. His speed and penetration ability led to most of his points. His ability to pull defenders and find the open man on the inside wasn’t rewarded, as the length and bulk of the Huskies on the inside kept points to a minimum.
“We haven’t shown what we’re capable of,” Williams said. “They are tough and protect well. We could never really get anything going.”
NICK KOZA PHOTO GALLERY: Centennial vs. Liberty
Centennial lost eight points overall against some of the nation’s best teams. The journey and challenging schedule is something the team hopes to reap the rewards when the playoffs begin next month.
“We’re absolutely ready,” Freeny said. “We planned that, all the travel, all the good teams from all over to get ready for the playoffs. We feel we are in a good place to do what we want to do.”
MATER DEI SANTA ANA 96, ST. MARY PHOENIX 69: Freshman Luke Barnett led 12 different scorers for event hosts Monarchs with 24 points in the easy win over the Knights.
Junior Scotty Belnap added 17 points for Mater Dei (20-6) which put 20 players into action.
NICK KOZA PHOTO GALLERY: Mater Dei vs St Mary’s
Junior Styles Phipps scored a game-high 27 points to lead St. Mary’s (11-12). Junior Kenny White had 20 points and senior Seydou Tamboura added 15 points.
HARVARD-WESTLAKE 63, DE LA SALLE-CONCORD 42
Junior Robert Hinton and senior Brady Dunlap got Harvard-Westlake-Studio City off to a flying start and never look back as they defeated the Spartans.
The Wolverines, the No. 2 team in the SBLIve Power 25 rankings, started 12-0 and led 27-10 after a quarter.
Despite being in 7th place, the Spartans have never been able to finish the game in less than double figures.
Hinton, who signed for Harvard, led the Wolverines (26-1) with 22 points, Dunlap added 18 points and Jacob Huggins contributed 10 points.
“It’s easy to see why they’re ranked where they are,” said Alec Blair of DLS. “They have talent everywhere on the pitch.”
The win capped a 10-day stretch in which the Wolverines went 6-0, including victories over top Mission League opponents Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks and Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth. They also beat a talented Rancho Verde-Moreno Valley team in the Prep State Preview tournament in Ontario on January 21.
“We’ve had a tough two weeks,” Hinton said. “Really exhausting, honestly. As a result, our coach (David Rebibo) made sure we were focused and shooting around with our scouts and our coaches made sure we had as much energy as possible. We were very focused today and really stuck and that’s what led to our win.”
The Spartans (19-5) were clocked by Blair’s 12 points. Arshawn Salkhi added 10 points.
NOTRE DAME-SHERMAN OAKS 84, ST. AUGUSTINE (SD) 72
A fantastic week ended with another win for the Knights (19-8), who clinched 39 points in the win over the Saints (20-4) from Houston-bound junior Mercy Miller, ranked sixth in the state for the week landed SBLive.
Notre Dame, who claimed a 66-62 win over the No. 5 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) at Pauley Pavilion on Friday, will no doubt improve from its No. 9 position.
It wasn’t a career highlight for Miller, who hails from rural Virginia. He scored 40 points in a game last season in Minnesota. Against the Saints, Miller played his best within two minutes in the fourth quarter, which helped the Knights regain control of a tight game.
St. Augustine had wrapped up a double-digit game 65-63 after a three-pointer by Jurian Dixon with 4:36 left.
Miller, a 6-foot-5 junior, countered with a three-point play of his own. Then bury a 3-pointer at 3:51 to the left and another at the 2:52 mark. When he covered a miss at 2:32, Notre Dame was ahead 76-65.
It was the second straight weekend the Knights had a big win. It defeated Dougherty Valley-San Ramon in Prep State Preview last weekend, surpassing the top San Diego team this time.
What made it more difficult was that the Knights were playing late Friday night en route to a tough win over Sierra Canyon.
“We’re not used to playing turnarounds like this,” Miller said. “But we came out of here and fought and did what we had to do.”
Miller added a game-high 11 rebounds and had four assists. Senior Caleb Foster, a Duke signee, had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Donte Ogbu finished with 11 points.
Junior LoLo Rudolph led the Saints with 17 points, Dixon, a senior, and junior Jaden Matingou each had 14 points. Junior Ian de la Rosa scored 11 points.
The Knights are brimming with confidence after three straight victories against top-tier teams.
“We’re trying to make a push for open partition in the state,” Miller said. “We just want to keep working and pushing as a team to reach our goal.”
It was the first loss of the 2023 portion of the Saints’ schedule. That includes a trip to Massachusetts two weeks ago.
“It sure is a tough loss,” Rudolph said. “They’re very good and it’s something we can learn to play from.”
CORONADO-HENDERSON (NV) 59, FOOTHILL-SANTA ANA 49:
Senior guard Sebastian Mack, a UCLA signee, had 22 points and six rebounds to lead the Cougars past Knights Saturday at the NIKE Extravaganza in Mater Dei-Santa Ana.
Tee Bartlett, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, added 12 points and 11 rebounds, while second Lantz Stephenson added 11 points for Coronado (13-8).
Juniors Jordan Martin (13 points) and Isaiah Bernard (10) ran Foothill (23-4).
WEST RANCH-VALENCIA 78, BISHOP O’CONNELL 68: Senior Jaqari Miles had 23 points and senior Andrew Meadow added 20 points as the Wildcats defeated the Knights, who had traveled in from the east coast for the contest.
Senior Jazz Gardner added 15 points and 10 rebounds for West Ranch (25-1).
Freshman Adam Oumiddoch led the Knights (9-9) with 17 points, with freshman Quincy Wadley and junior Jadyn Harris each scoring 15 points.
JSERRA-SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO 61, CREAN LUTHERAN 56 (OT): The Lions withdrew in overtime, leaving Crean Lutheran just two points to secure the win.
Junior forward Sebastian Rancik had 29 points and 17 rebounds to lead JSerra (18-8). Junior guard Diego Martinez added 14 points for the Lions.
Freshman Kaiden Bailey had 23 points for the Saints (18-7).
ALISO NIGUEL-ALISO VIEJO 54, CALVARY CHAPEL-SANTA ANA 50: Juniors Kodai Fujii and Garrett Trayer combined for 23 points and lead the Wolverines (14-10).
Senior Caiden Curran had 15 points and junior Carson Franklin had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles (16-9).
Aliso Niguel used a 12-3 advance in the fourth quarter to control the game and claim the win.
COLONY-ONTARIO 58, DOS PUEBLOS-GOLETA 48: Senior center Denzel Hines had a game-high 33 points to go and 11 rebounds to lead the Titans (19-7).
Senior Zack Moritz added 18 points for Colony.
Senior Justin Stock led the Chargers (8-18) with 17 points, junior Matthew Zamora had 10 points, and junior Micah Goss added nine points and 10 rebounds.
CAPISTRANO VALLEY-MISSION VIEJO 57, OAK HILLS-HESPERIA 53: Senior Jackson Gray had 19 points and senior Efe Gucoglu added 17 points to help the Cougars (17-7).
Senior Kenneth Brown had 15 points and junior Vieux Sanneh had eight points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-11).
LOS ALAMITOS 64, SERVITE-ANAHEIM 57: Sophomore Trent Minter had an excellent all-around game with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Griffins past the brothers.
Senior Makai Guerrero and sophomore Wesley Trevino each scored 12 points for Los Alamitos (20-6).
Freshman Joaquin Rigdon had 12 points to lead Servite (12-13).