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First Pitch I Chace Bryson        Another state championship basketball season is in the books, and there was a lot to enjoy about the...

First Pitch I Chace Bryson    

   Another state championship basketball season is in the books, and there was a lot to enjoy about the tournament. 

   And still some to grumble about.

   We still feel there has to be some way to re-tool the Open Division in order to avoid completely watering down the other divisions — especially in the North. This year’s state championship games had very few closely contested games. In fact, of the 12 state finals, only two were decided by single digits. And both of those games were just nine-point margins. Some games — as many as six — were significantly lopsided. Five SoCal teams and one NorCal team won their final by 20 or more points.

   But these are all arguments that we and others have made before. Hopefully, the CIF will look at some of the arguments and consider making some changes to the system. 

   This issue is about celebrating the state tournament and not begrudging it. We urge you to check out the cover features on Monte Vista-Danville boys — one of NorCal’s four winning teams — and the Folsom boys, which were not winners but certainly cemented themselves as a team to watch over the next two seasons. 

   We have additional features on the Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland and St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda boys, as well as the Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove girls. If you don’t see stories on those teams in the edition you’re holding, chances are you can find it at SportStarsOnline along with videos and more photos from the last two days of the season. 

   SportStars‘ postseason hoops and winter sports awards will be coming out in the coming weeks, but we thought it still might be fun to offer up some unofficial NorCal basketball honors to start this issue off. 

   Here you go:

   >> Best Team That Didn’t Play for a State Title — For us, it’d be the Carondelet-Concord girls. They were victims of the Open Division, getting knocked out by Miramonte-Orinda 92-87 in the NorCal semifinals. Had the Cougars had an opportunity to play in their natural division, Div. II, we think they may have had a real shot at beating Chaminade-West Hills (which defeated Archbishop Mitty-San Jose 80-51). 

   >> Team We’re Already Excited To See Next Season — The Folsom boys should have no shortage of expectations next season when the return almost 99 percent of their scoring output from this year’s 32-3 team. The team featured just one senior. Unfortunately, if there are no changes to the system, the Bulldogs’ lone shot at the state title may have been this season. They could easily be pulled to Open Div. next year where it’d be hard for them to match up against a team like Bishop O’Dowd and 6-foot-10 Ivan Rabb, who will undoubtedly be a McDonald’s All-American.

   >> Favorite Random Stat From A State Final — Lailoni Gaines, a 6-0 wing for Modesto Christian, helped the Eagles win their first state title with 10 points and 12 rebounds a 64-55 win over Santa Barbara in the Div. III final. But our favorite part about that double-double? 10 of her 12 rebounds were offensive boards! That’s doing some real work. Way to box out, Ms. Gaines! She’s also just sophomore.

   Enjoy our last big issue of basketball coverage until next December.  

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