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SoCalHoops Playoff News

Boys D-II State Final Game Results:
MLK Beats NorCal St. Francis For Title--(Mar. 23, 2002)

Riverside Martin Luther King Jr., High School became the first team ever from Riverside County to win a boys' state basketball championship last night as they defeated NorCal D-II champion, Mountain View St. Francis by a score of 53-52 on a basket by Riveride's Marvin Lea with just 28 seconds remaining. We found several accounts of the game from some of the best prep sportswriters around, and because we're really pressed for time, can't search out every local paper in California that may have covered the game, but we'll pass along the best that we could locate, including accounts from the Riverside Press Enterprise, which is justifiably proud of the victorious local kids, as well as accounts from Ben Bolch of the LA Times, and Mitch Stephens' account from the San Francisco Chronicle, which covers St. Francis (Mountain View is near San Jose, but for some reason, the San Jose Mercury News doesn't have any prep coverage online...sheeesh.).   We've also got the complete State Playoff bracket below, as well as the box score from the game:

Congratulations to MLK, to Coach Sweeny and to all the MLK players from SoCalHoops.

King head of state
DIVISION 2: Lea makes the go-ahead basket with 28 seconds left to give the Riverside school the title.

SACRAMENTO - Which was the best boys' basketball team in the history of Riverside County? It's a topic that could be debated for hours.  But what cannot be argued is that Riverside King is the most successful boys'  basketball team in county history. 

With its 53-52 victory over Mountain View St. Francis for the Division 2 California Interscholastic Federation state title Friday night at ARCO Arena, King became the county's first boys' basketball team to win a state title.   "The rings speak for themselves," said senior Marvin Lea, whose game-high 23 points and clutch jumper with 28 seconds to play led the Wolves (31-4) to victory. "There should be no debate." 

Lea's defense in the final 10 seconds led to St. Francis' Hakeem Gilliard being charged with a 5-second violation, virtually sealing King's victory. John Montgomery's last-second desperation shot bounced off the rim as King's players mobbed each other at midcourt.

"King High School is on the basketball map not just in Southern California, but in the whole state," said Lea, who said he hopes to run into former Riverside prep stars such as Ed Gray and Quincy Brewer on the playground to show them the ring they were never able to win.  Like many of the games in King's record-setting season, the crowning game wasn't a thing of beauty.  "We haven't always been pretty," Wolves coach Tim Sweeney said. "We just had to get into a dogfight." 

Shooting woes hounded King early as the Wolves made 11 of 32 in the first half. King missed 5-footers and layups, jumpers and putbacks.  "The layups and 5-footers will start falling," Sweeney said of the early accuracy problems.  With a more patient offense, St. Francis (25-9) took advantage of King's malfunctioning targeting scanner to go on runs of 8-0 and 11-2 and led by as much as 32-23 in the second quarter. 

St. Francis' 6-foot-9 New Mexico-bound center David Chiotti was something like the 500-pound gorilla, going wherever he wanted to go. But (also like a gorilla) he didn't get too high, often being outleaped by Lea or guard Leon Rosborough (13 points, 13 rebounds).  The Lancers' lead got as big as 44-34 in the third quarter before King's traditional third-quarter rally decided to show up with under a minute to spare. 

King went on a 14-0 run from 43 seconds left in the third to 3:39 left in the fourth. The run started on a three-pointer by Lea followed 16 seconds later by Lea stealing the ball and hitting a jumper.  "What we didn't do was run them out of the gym," Sweeney said, referring to his team's tendency to wear teams out by early in the second half. "Had they not (finally) tired, that full-court (defense) might not have been so effective." 

But King's biggest lead of the second half didn't last long.   Chiotti and Montgomery chipped away at the Wolves' lead as the Lancers gained a 52-51 advantage with 41.6 seconds left when Chiotti (22 points, 16 rebounds) sank a free throw.  Lea answered with a baseline jumper with 28 seconds to play for what would prove to be the game's final basket. But the drama wasn't over. On the Lancers' next trip down the floor, Lea was guarding point guard Gilliard. Gilliard tried to go left, he tried to go right, he tried to go middle, finally getting called for a 5-second violation for not advancing the ball.  "It was a long five seconds," Lea said. "He was just a quick little guard. I had to play the best defense I've ever played, right there." 

"Referees are doing the best they can," St. Francis coach Steve Filios said. "It wasn't the only call I would have argued with. But it's immaterial; you play 32 minutes of basketball, not five seconds."  Both Rosborough and Lea were fouled in the final seconds, each missing a free throw, which gave St. Francis 1.9 seconds to attempt a game-winning shot, but the desperation heave by Montgomery (son of Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery) went wide right and bounced, pointlessly, off the glass.  Matt Thomas added six points, two blocks and eight rebounds, spending most of the game matched up against Chiotti. 

"Matt is just a tenacious rebounder," Sweeney said. 

The Riverside Press Enterprise also carried a nice column from sports writer Lyle Spencer:

Riverside's titlists answer doubters

SACRAMENTO - King is king. Long live King.

It wasn't easy, and it wasn't anything you'd hang on a wall in an art gallery, but that wouldn't have been Riverside King, now would it? 

True to form, true to character, true to themselves and their rabid followers, the second-year Wolves claimed the state Division 2 basketball championship Friday night at ARCO Arena, rallying improbably from behind to rock Mountain View St. Francis, 53-52. 

The slumbering Lakers could use the heart and will shown by Coach Tim Sweeney Jr.'s troupe when they face Sacramento's Kings on the same floor Sunday afternoon.

Marvin Lea, Leon Rosborough and Co. join Cheryl Miller's 1982 Riverside Poly champions as the only state titlists from Riverside County in what is regarded as the modern era, starting in 1981. 

"I guess now people know who we are," Rosborough said. "LA and Orange County have always been doubting us. Marvin and I talked about it all year. We felt we could put Riverside County on the map. It feels real good."  

"No debate there," Lea said, proclaiming King the best ever to emerge from the county. "The ring speaks for itself. We have a complete squad, the dynamics of a championship squad." 

Those dynamics start with Lea and Rosborough, the gold-dust twins. As always, they made it happen with perspiration and inspiration, combining for 36 points (23 by Lea) and 19 rebounds (13 by Rosborough). But they wouldn't have been celebrating without a supporting cast featuring emerging star Matt Thomas, a sophomore whose energy, defense and soaring board work were emphatic fourth-quarter factors. 

Fittingly, it was Lea, a 6-foot-3 senior guard whose motor never idles, who made the winning shot, rising above a crowd including 6-9 David Chiotti to bank home a 10-footer with 28 seconds left. Those were the final points.  "We had a lot of roadblocks all year," Lea said. "We rise over everything. The cream rises to the top. 

"I went up and hit the shot like I normally do."  

The finish was furious, frantic and fantastic, a tapestry of intrigue. But Lea's bucket, and his defense on Hakeem Gilliard causing a critical five-second violation, were the decisive elements after a last-gasp heave by John Montgomery crashed against the glass. 

"It's just heart," senior forward Garrett Hilt said, summing up a dream season. "You can feel it on the court. You just know we're not going to lose, we're not going to give up." 

Hilt was part of a committee Sweeney ran at Chiotti, a skilled and powerful inside performer who delivered 22 points and 16 rebounds. 

"We played a lot of teams with bigger guys -- (Santa Ana) Mater Dei, Redondo (Union)," Hilt said. "This guy was a little bit thicker. We adjusted well." 

St. Francis ran a smooth and cohesive offense with cool Gilliard, a 5-foot-7 senior, at the point and Chiotti down low, calling for the ball and showcasing drop-step moves with uncommon footwork for a teen. 

Montgomery, fundamentally schooled son of Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, also made sure the ball was in the right place at the right time. 

With teens screaming and everything in the balance, the ball found Montgomery's hands with 1.9 seconds left, outside the foul lane. But he didn't have time to set himself for a clean shot, and it wasn't close. 

"I didn't know if I could dribble," Montgomery said. "It was kinda hard. It goes that way sometimes. 

"We started off 1-3 and had some injuries. We just came together as five senior starters."  The Lancers will have a hard time forgetting how they let a 10-point lead get away late in the third quarter. But the 14-0 burst by King, starting with a three by Lea with 43 seconds to go in the period, turned the game around. 

"We just needed to get in a dogfight," Sweeney said, unable to explain the weary legs his players took into the game they would remember for the rest of their lives. 

When "Pee Wee" Lea and his buddy, Leon, started barking, the whole arena got loud, St. Francis got nervous, and a championship was headed south. 

"In big games all year long," Sweeney said, "Marvin and Leon just took the game on, in the third and fourth quarters. The other guys are so cognizant of their heart and character. These guys refuse to lose."  

That's why they're King of the state. 

Reach Lyle Spencer at (909) 368-9541 or

Sports writer Ben Bolch also covered the game for the LA Times, and as usual provided a great account of what happened.

Lea's Last Basket Gives King the Crown, 53-52

SACRAMENTO -- Needing a last-minute basket to capture a state basketball title in only its second season of varsity competition, Riverside King High turned to its leader, who delivered with the cool confidence that has characterized his ascension to stardom.

Guard Marvin Lea elevated over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-9 David Chiotti for a five-foot basket with 30 seconds left to lift King to a spine-tingling 53-52 victory over Mountain View St. Francis on Friday night in the Division II boys' basketball championship before about 3,000 at Arco Arena.

"I hit the shot like I normally do," Lea quipped afterward. "We knew if we kept fighting that we would do it." Lea's shot capped a remarkable comeback from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter, as King became the first team from Riverside County to win a state boys' basketball title.

St. Francis had chances to win on its final two possessions. But guard Hakeem Gilliard was called for a five-second violation while being shadowed by Lea and guard John Montgomery's last-second jumper bounced off the backboard.

"These guys refuse to lose," said King Coach Tim Sweeney Jr. "I think what got us by was their character."

Statistically, Lea and Leon Rosborough led the way as usual. Lea scored 23 points and Rosborough had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Yet, King's other starters were also instrumental Friday. Garrett Hilt contributed with outstanding defense against an opponent five inches taller. Matt Thomas showcased his outstanding leaping ability while grabbing eight rebounds. And James Ellis hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter to get the Wolves going.

"It's just heart," Hilt said when asked to explain what led to the dramatic turnaround. "You can just feel it on the court."

Lea started King's decisive 14-0 push with less than a minute to play in the third quarter on a three-pointer and a jumper off a steal to pull the Wolves to within 44-39.

Thomas made a driving layup to give King a 45-44 lead. Rosborough then made a three-pointer as the Wolves took a four-point edge. St. Francis, which lost in the title game last year, went back ahead, 52-51, with 41 seconds left on a Chiotti free throw, setting the stage for Lea.

Here's the view from the Northern part of the State, from Mitch Stephens who covered the game for the San Francisco Chronicle and The Gate, the Chronicle's online verion:

St. Francis falls short in state final
Mitch Stephens, Special to The Chronicle
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Sacramento -- The faraway looks and soggy eyes said it all. This one hurt the deepest.  St. Francis High of Mountain View's boys team had a California Interscholastic Federation Division II championship well in hand with a 10- point lead in the third quarter. But Martin Luther King of Riverside, an upstart second-year program that shocked national power Mater Dei of Santa Ana the previous week, went on a 14-0 run over a span of 7:15 to capture a 53-52 thriller at Arco Arena.

Despite 22 points and 16 rebounds from 6-foot-9 center David Chiotti, the Lancers lost in the state title game for the second consecutive year. Last year, however, they were never really in it. This one was right in their grasp.  A 5-for-15 effort from the free-throw line, including three misses in the final 1:52 made the loss tougher.  "This was our senior year," said senior point guard Hakeem Gilliard, who had 11 points and seven assists. "This was our year. This one hurts the worst." 

Marvin "Sweet Pea" Lea caused most of the pain with 23 points. He was everywhere during the 14-0 run and down the stretch. A layup by Chiotti tied the score at 51-51 with 48 seconds left. After Lea missed, Chiotti rebounded and was fouled. He made one of two free throws, giving St. Francis a 52-51 lead. But Lea hit a tough leaner 11 seconds later and after the Lancers (26-8) called timeout, Gilliard was called for a five-second violation with 8.0 seconds left under heavy durress from Lea. King's Leon Rosborough missed the front end of a one-and-one but Lea was there once more for the rebound. He missed at the line and the Lancers eventually grabbed a loose ball with 1.9 seconds left. After three timeouts, John Montgomery's contested 3-point try at the buzzer didn't draw iron and the Wolves (31-4) were champs. 

"I wanted the last shot in that situation," said Montgomery, who finished with 11 points. "I wanted it in my hands. I didn't know if I had time to dribble so I just let it go. It didn't this time."  Gilliard ended the first quarter with a steal, coast-to-coast drive and layup to cap an 8-0 run and give the Lancers a 19-18 lead. They started the second quarter with a 12-5 run, keyed by two more jumpers and a 3-pointer by Gilliard over Lea, who finished the half with 13 points. Chiotti had nine points and six rebounds by the half as the Lancers led 33-27. 

St. Francis opened the lead to 44-34, when King closed the quarter with a 7- 0 run in the final 42 seconds to making it 44-41 heading into the fourth. Lea had five points in the run and the Lancers made three turnovers. It was their only real lapse of the first three quarters. "It was one of our best games of the year until the end," Chiotti said. "It just wasn't meant to be I guess."

Box Score:

King 53, St. Francis 52

M.L. KING--James Ellis 3, Marvin Lea 23, Garrett Hilt 4, Matt Thomas 6, Leon Rosborough 13 (13 rebounds), Brett Goodman 3, Daniel Doss 1.

MOUNTAIN VIEW ST. FRANCIS--John Montgomery 11, Hakeem Gilliard 11, David Velasquez 2, David Chiotti 22 (16 rebounds), Chris Chisam 4, Chet Heter 2.

ML King--   18  9  14  12--53
St. Francis-- 19  14  11  8--52

Round 1
March 6
7:30 p.m.
Round 2
March 9
7:30 p.m.
SoCal Finals
March 16
4:00 p.m.
LB Arena
State Finals,
March 22
8:00 p.m.
NorCal Finals
March 10 -
4:00 p.m.
UC DavisRec.
Round 2,
March 9
7:30 p.m.
NorCal Round 1
March 6
7:30 p.m.
Escondido 70
Mater Dei 89
Mater Dei 88

@ The Pyramid

Pasadena 79
Mater Dei 65


Riverside King 70

Riverside King 53


St. Francis 52

St. Francis 66


Rio Americano46

St. Francis 66

@ St. Francis HS
7:30 p.m 

Shasta 54

  Oak Ridge 65
* St. Francis 69
Pasadena 53
*Stockdale 46
* Shasta 65
@ Foothill HS (Palo Cedro)
Amador Valley 64
Riverside King 72
*Helix 64
Riverside King 66


Redondo Union 57
Rio Americano 44

@ Rio Americano
7:30 p.m.

Fremont 37

McAteer 44
*Rio Americano 50
Fresno Hoover42
* Redondo Union 78
San Jose Fremont 52
Northgate 47

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