Watch Sheldon celebrate as it repeats NorCal basketball title
Back for more at Golden 1 Center: Sierra Canyon.
The Trailblazers of Los Angeles County barrel into Sacramento on Saturday night to cap the high school basketball season, facing Sheldon in a rematch of the 2018 CIF State Open Division championship, won by Sierra Canyon 75-62 after a fourth-quarter surge.
The Trailblazers are not your typical prep outfit. The private school is located in the affluent suburb of Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley, where tuition is $36,250 a year and home games have in recent seasons been attended by Drake, Kanye West and a Kardashian or two.
This is a school where entertainers such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kevin Hart, Kris Jenner, Jamie Foxx and Will Smith have sent their children.
The basketball roster is dotted with the sons of retired NBA stars — KJ Martin (son of Kenyon) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (son of you know who). They are skilled, determined and national recruits for a reason, as they join guard Cassius Stanley for a formidable 1-2-3 punch.
Their fathers figure to be at Golden 1, perhaps again in courtside seats. Kenyon Martin and Scottie Pippen at last year’s contest frequently stood and stared down referees, or to bark instructions to box out, sometimes stepping onto the floor to get their points across.
Golden 1 Center security did nothing, as spectators generally are warned or removed when walking onto the court. Scores of observers wondered if this screamed of celebrity entitlement.
What is without debate is how good Sierra Canyon is.
The Trailblazers (31-3) are state-ranked No. 1 by Cal-Hi Sports and nationally ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps.
They have size in 7-footer Christian Koloko, headed to Arizona, and they have a message.
“Last year, we were the ones trying to knock off other teams – we were the team that wasn’t supposed to win,” Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said after his team beat Mater Dei 83-73 in the SoCal Regional final Tuesday. “This year, the challenge has been great because we’re the No. 1 team. Every team comes with their best to kill us.”
Against Sheldon last season, Sierra Canyon was as good as advertised. KJ Martin had 11 points and 13 rebounds, Pippen had 21 points and Stanley 23. The Trailblazers outrebounded Sheldon 44-24. Stanley, with college offers from Kansas, Oregon and UCLA, leads the Trailblazers in scoring at 17.8.
Sierra Canyon aims to become the second program to win back-to-back CIF Open titles since the format was adopted in 2013. Mater Dei did so in 2013 and 2014, beating Sheldon in 2013.
Sierra Canyon is also where Sheldon star Marcus Bagley got his prep start. He was a freshman at Sierra Canyon two years ago, averaging 3.2 points a game as a player with promise.
His towering brother Marvin Bagley III — now a Kings rookie — was the star, averaging 24.6 points and 10.1 rebounds for a Sierra Canyon team that went 27-3. Bagley III graduated early, as a junior, and enrolled at Duke, where he had a stellar freshman season before going second overall in the 2018 NBA draft.
And the Sierra Canyon girls
Meanwhile, how about Sierra Canyon’s girls program?
Sierra Canyon (32-1) is ranked No. 1 in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports, and it takes on Pinewood of Los Altos Hills in the Open final at 6 pm. Saturday before the boys tip off.
The Trailblazers are in their fourth state final since 2013 and are led by Texas commit Ashley Chevalier, a relentless 5-7 guard. She’s the daughter of Sierra Canyon boys coach Andre Chevalier. Her mother, Michelle Esparza-Chevalier, is the women’s basketball coach at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
Sierra Canyon trailed Clovis West 37-17 in the second quarter of the SoCal Regional final Tuesday and rallied to win 74-70.
CIF State finals at Golden 1 Center
Open Division: Sheldon (24-10) vs. Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth (31-3), Saturday, 8 p.m.
Division I: James Logan-Union City (27-6) vs. Chino Hills (24-10), Friday, 8 p.m.
Division II: Campolindo-Moraga (26-7) vs. Colony-Ontario (31-5), Saturday, 4 p.m.
Division III: University-San Francisco (28-9) vs. La Jolla Country Day (22-13), Friday, 4 p.m.
Division IV: Immanuel-Reedley (26-8) vs. Ribet Academy-Los Angeles (26-3), Saturday, noon
Division V: Mt. Shasta (33-1) vs. Foothill-Bakersfield (23-11), Friday, noon
Open Division: Pinewood-Los Altos Hills (27-3) vs. Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth (32-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.
Division I: Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland (24-9) vs. Rosary Academy-Fullerton (26-8), Friday, 6 p.m.
Division II: Menlo School-Atherton (25-5) vs. Rolling Hills Prep-San Pedro (27-4), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Division III: Oakland (29-5) vs. McFarland (31-5), Friday, 2 p.m.
Division IV: Oakland Tech (29-6) vs. Northview-Covina (31-5), Saturday, 10 a.m.
Division V: Caruthers (31-4) vs. Ramona-Riverside (23-12), Friday, 10 a.m.