Boys Basketball: Mission outlasts Marshall to claim second AAA title in three years

The Mission boys basketball team celebrates with the AAA championship trophy after beating Marshall on Friday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

The Mission boys basketball team celebrates with the AAA championship trophy after beating Marshall on Friday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Bonta Hill

Mission High School’s boys basketball team was determined to return to the Academic Athletic Association championship game after last season’s loss to Washington.

Senior forward Gione Edwards and junior guard Kevin Murray were two players who sat through that disappointment, carrying that bad memory with them all season, and that experience paid off for the duo Friday night.

Mission junior guard Kevin Murray rises up for a jump shot over a Marshall defender on Friday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Edwards scored 25 points and took in 15 rebounds, while Murray, who shot 0-for-7 from the floor in last season’s championship game, scored a game-high 26 points as Mission won their second AAA title in three years with a 89-76 victory over Marshall on Friday at Kezar Pavilion.

Mission (23-10) also overcome another huge game by Marshall senior center Mark Alexander, who had a triple-double with 14 points, 21 rebounds, and 12 blocks.

“Kevin has had his ups and downs this season, but he was determined to get back to this game after last season,” said Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya. “Gione has been [great] all year – just phenomenal. He’s the player of the year in my book.”

Mission’s press stood out early, forcing 10 Marshall turnovers in the first quarter, and the Bears ended the frame on a 14-4 run, punctuated by a 3-pointer from Murray with 4 seconds left.

Another Mission run late in the second quarter gave the Bears a 44-33 lead at halftime, but Marshall (15-13) didn’t wilt.

The third quarter turned into a shootout, in which 51 points were scored.

The Phoenix opened the second half on an 8-1 run to cut the Bears’ lead to 45-41. Then, after falling behind 65-56, Marshall got back-to-back layups from junior guard Jason Smith and Alexander to cut the Mission lead to five points.

Mission junior guard Antoine Porter then sank a 3-pointer right before the third-quarter buzzer and the Bears went on a 15-2 run to giving them a commanding 80-62 lead midway through the fourth.

The Phoenix, who were trying to capture the first boys basketball championship in school history, didn’t have enough gas in the tank to keep up with Mission’s uptempo style and committed 23 turnovers.

“I don’t feel like the press was something that gave us problems, but rather it was us [not] putting the ball in the basket, especially early on,” said Marshall head coach Dezebee Miles. “But beyond that, Mission played extremely well and played better than us. We play mainly the same five guys and I tried to get every ounce out of them, but we just didn’t have enough.”

Zelaya felt that Marshall’s lack of depth, with just seven rostered players, was something his team could take advantage of.

Marshall senior center Mark Alexander (left) backs down a Mission defender on Friday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“The plan was to try to press and force some turnovers, something we’ve been trying to do consistently all season,” Zelaya said. “We knew [Marshall] had a thin bench, so the game plan was to attack and play fast.”

The same two teams could very well be meeting in the championship game again next season, but both will have the task of replacing some prominent players.

Marshall will be moving on without Alexander and Mission will be without Edwards, arguably the two best players in the AAA this season.

“It’s going to be really tough to lose a player like Mark,” Miles said. “But it was great to have him and he performed for us all season long – Rebounding, scoring baskets, blocking shots – and he was a presence even in practice showing leadership. I’m just really happy with what this young man did this season.”

Edwards and Alexander will both have the opportunity to play on this season in the CIF State Championship tournament, but this was the pinnacle Edwards was looking to reach all year.

“Last year we were just too excited, but we made it our goal to win the [championship], and not just [be] happy to be here,” Edwards said. “With this being my last year, I had to do something for this team and this school.”

Scoring Summary

Kevin Murray – 26
Gione Edwards – 25
Antoine Porter – 12
Miles Prescott – 10
Armani McFarland – 6

Mizelle Parker – 19
Aumen Holliday – 17
Jason Smith – 15
Mark Alexander – 14
Preston Demming – 11

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27 Comments on "Boys Basketball: Mission outlasts Marshall to claim second AAA title in three years"

  1. Congrats to Mission. The good thing is that both schools will go to play in the NorCals. Whoever Marshall plays will underestimate them due to their roster size. This will work in their favor. Good luck to both Mission and Marshall in the NorCal tourney.

    On a side note, I wish the CIFSF section was able to send more than two schools to state. JB, how many teams does the CIFLAC section and CIFSD section get to send to the SoCal tourney? I know they probably get to send more than two since their sections are much larger than the CIFSF section.

    • I don’t know how many exactly they get in, but they get in many more than the San Francisco Section. Also remember, there are only four sections in the south (Central Section, LA City Section, Southern Section and San Diego Section) so there have to be more teams in from each section to fill out the bracket.

      • WCAL Alum | March 3, 2012 at 3:58 AM |

        For most part only the top two teams from league go to state. AAA rarely only recently got two, but that has a lot to do with what division the respective two teams play in (due to enrollment). For instance I believe Mission will play in DI and Marshall will play in III. If two of larger schools get in, usually the loser of the championship game has to play in the play-in game.

        In all honesty, the AAA rarely gets through the first round, so asking for more than two teams doesnt make sense.

        I agree, Marshall will surprise somebody. But as I said in another post, the more physical tempo of State officiated games and their lack of depth may hurt them.

        I would love to see a AAA play beyond the first round and beyond, but they usually are not seeded highly and rarely get a home game.

        • Mission will play in Division III. Marshall will play in Division IV.

          • WCAL Alum | March 3, 2012 at 4:12 AM |

            Thanks for clarification. Thanks also for ALL the coverage (how many games yesterday). It has made for some nice late night/early morning reading.

            Thanks again to SanFranPreps-it is quite a service to the local prep sports community.

          • When and where is the CIF State Championship tournament? Thanks!!

            Let’s go MARSHALL!!!

        • WCAL ALUM,

          You are correct. These days the AAA teams do not get past the first round. This was not the case in the 90’s when we had better talent. If Marshall didn’t have the depth problem that they currently have, I think that they could make it out of the first round. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they upset someone.

      • That’s right. I forgot NorCal has more sections. Thanks for answering the question JB.

    • GJC01 (and I’ll respond to the officiating posts in a sec),

      The AAA is LUCKY to be able to send two teams to the state tournament. The AAA used to send only’s it’s champion to the State. The runner up’s were supposedly given consideration for an at large berth but I don’t think an AAA runner up was even seriously considered.

      THis changed around 2000 to 2004 or so. I don’t know how / why that changed but I imagine Don Collins must have argued that every other section (CCS / NCS / Northern / etc) had it’s champion and runner up’s go, so why not the AAA? It was only one additional team. Now it did screw up the brackets a bit in the sense that the lower ranking teams had to play the runner up’s in a play-in game. It’s a bit of mute point now as the NCS sends FOUR teams in the State (all it’s semi-finalists).

      Mission will end up hosting a game at Kezar along with Lowell. Marshall, while fairly talented, they have a poor overall record. They going to get a road game regardless if they do a play-in game or go straight to the first round. The Washington girls have been through this plenty of times. Washington’s going to get stuck playing a top seed (likely Berkeley) in Division I.

      • Don L.,

        I think we began sending two teams just prior to Mr. Collins arrival. Mr. Collins came to the league in 2001. I actually spoke with him regarding something similar to this matter last year. It’s only fair that our section gets the same opportunity to send our champ and runner up to the NorCals.

        Normally the champion does host a game and the runner-up will have to travel. However, this is not always the case as Wash had to travel last year after they won the championship to play Santa Teresa (in which they lost by 10).

  2. jason smith is a sophomore. mission did a good job, they studied their opponent know their strengths and weakness. marshall is destined to come back to kezar next year, only losing one this year and who knows they just might have a rematch. who will they play in the tourney.

  3. Graham Betchart | March 3, 2012 at 9:43 AM |

    Good Luck Bears in the State! 3 City Championships in 5 years, great job coach Z

    • Great Job, Coach Arnold Zelaya…Coach Zelaya is a SH graduate, Class of 87…for all that is wondering about his background, way to continue in helping the communitiy of San Francisco!!!

  4. Congradulations to all the kids who played last night, especially the effort of Marshall with basically only five players. But on the sad note I am dissapointed that these were the AAA representitives because of the way they handled playing lesser teams this year. Both of these team/coaches ran up the score on several teams and its sad they were rewarded. There are more important things than winning and I think several AAA coaches are missing the boat.

  5. AAAplayer | March 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM |

    Who do you think will win AAA player of the year, alexander or edwards? also whos the rest of 1st team going to be?

  6. Does anyone think this game may have played out differently with Theo Hill playing? I only saw him play once but I remember him as a strong, scoring forward.

    • I think Marshall’s whole season could have played out differently with Theo. I had him as the favorite for AAA player of the year heading into the season.

  7. Marshall had a fantastic playoff run with their short roster as it is. Good for them and best of luck in the norcals.

    For the AAA all league team I saw all of the teams at least once and I would give strong consideration to:

    Alexander (POY)

    Blanking a little bit on wash and gal, need some help there. Tough to pick 5 for a first team but my vote for poy is Alexander.

    • I’m not sure if Holliday will make 1st team, because Mizelle Parker and Demming had alot of good games in the 2nd half of the season. The only great/good game I remember of Holliday was when he scored like 37 points. After that, the other guys stepped up, mainly Alexander, Demming, and Mizelle Parker.

      • YouAlreadyKnow | March 4, 2012 at 12:01 AM |

        Think there are too many players on mission, lowell, and marshall that are all key players. Most of them go under the radar because of someone else’s spectacular performance so its hard to get recognized. Like Prescott on mission or Nicastro-Aikman for lowell. Prescott gets just as much board while Aikman is the highest scorer for lowell almost every game. Although he may not be the leading scorer, he scores well, drives, and gets the W for the team. He scores smartly, not throwing up random shots. Aikman should be valid contender for first team.

      • I think all 5 of the Marshall starters had fine seasons. I agree that Aumon’s production went down in the 2nd half but I would point out that he did a ton of dirty work for them, playing sort of out of position on D down low. Very few wasted possessions; in the title game I wish he and Demming had taken more shots instead of the PG Smith. Under control at top speed. He gets his hands on a lot of rebounds. Overall game is very smooth and he’s one of those players who may only wind up with the 3rd most points on the team, but made the most difference. So maybe he won’t make the 1st team but I would say he is one of the best 5 players in the AAA.

  8. The AAA player of the year will either be Gione Edwards or Mark Alexander. 1st team will probably be Terrance Ching, Antoine Porter, Chris Young from Lincoln, Either Gione Edwards or Mark Alexander unless player of the year is Co-Player of the Year, and the last spot is a toss-up….Burnoski, Ares Brown, Holliday, Mizelle, Demming, Kevin Murray, Prescott, etc….Coach of the Year might be the Marshall coach?

  9. AAAplayer | March 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM |

    I don’t think ching should make 1st team because of how poor his team was. Burton got routed numerous times. Burnoski shouldn’t either seeing as balboa did not even make the playoffs. What about nicastro-aikman from lowell, or betkowski from galileo who both lead their teams in scoring??? Id also put murray ahead of porter with that great performance in the championship game. My poty-gione edwards, first team: mark alexander, kevin murray, ares brown, avery nicastro-aikman, max betkowski. It seemed like the rest of marshall was too off and on.

    • Last I remembered, Burton beat Galileo, so I don’t think Betkowski will make 1st team over Terrence Ching, but Troy Aikman’s son is deserving for 1st team since their team finished in 1st place in their division. ching is one of the best outside shooters in the AAA, plus, he made 2nd team last year, so it’s only common sense to put him on 1st team in his senior year, cause overall he had a good season. I’m not sure about Kevin Murray, 1 great game doesn’t really qualify for 1st team. .

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