Capistrano Valley can’t stop K.J. Simpson, loses to Chaminade in Division 1 basketball final – Daily News

MISSION VIEJO – Each quarter of a high school basketball game is eight minutes long.

Chaminade’s Kenneth “K.J.” Simpson decided the final eight minutes belonged to him.

Simpson scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead Chaminade to a 53-49 win over Capistrano Valley in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys basketball final Wednesday at Capistrano Valley High.

Chaminade (19-3) won its fourth CIF-SS boys basketball championship, and its first since 1999.

Simpson, a 6-2 senior guard who signed with Colorado, finished with 26 points. He made 6 of his 9 fourth-quarter shots, including a 3-pointer. Simpson also had a game-high seven rebounds.

Capistrano Valley senior twins Aidan and Gavin O’Neill scored 13 points each. The Cougars’ best player, though, was senior guard Langston Redfield who handled the basketball more than any player on the floor, scored 12 points, had eight rebounds and blocked four shots.

Redfield was assigned to guard Simpson and did a fine job of it until Simpson became more assertive in the fourth quarter.

“Previously, I was doing awful,” Simpson said. “It was a really hard game. You could see it: both teams were drained. I kept telling myself, ‘this is for the championship, this isn’t just any other game,’ so I took it upon myself as the leader to take over the game.”

Capistrano Valley coach Brian Mulligan was impressed.

“Redfield did a fantastic job on (Simpson) until late in the game,” Mulligan said. “That’s when he said, ‘I’m not passing anymore, I’m going to the rim.’”

Two of those going-to-the-rim moments put the win in the bag for the Eagles in the game’s final minute.

Simpson missed a 3-point shot, got his own rebound and laid it in for a 51-46 lead.

Aidan O’Neill made a 25-foot 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to slice the Chaminade lead to 51-49. Simpson took the following inbounds pass and bolted down court, racing past everyone on his way to a layup to score the game’s final points, 53-49.

Mulligan was experiencing a mixture of pride and disappointment afterward.

“I’m super proud of our guys,” Mulligan said. “I’m not sure this (a CIF final) was a realistic expectation at the beginning of the year. But we’re the ones that are here, we’re the ones that had a chance.”

Chaminade coach Bryan Cantwell was dazzled by Capistrano Valley’s defense.

“That team (Capistrano Valley) is the best defensive team I remember playing against in years,” Cantwell said.

Chaminade came out firing 3-pointers. The Eagles in the fast-paced first quarter took 11 3-point shots and made three of them. Gavin O’Neill scored seven points in the quarter that ended 13-13.

The Eagles’ Caden Cantwell, the coach’s son, made two 3s in the second quarter, while Redfield and Gavin O’Neill scored six each. The Cougars had 27-24 lead at halftime.

Capistrano Valley (15-3) was 0 for 6 on 3-point tries in the third quarter, which ended in a 33-33 tie.

The Cougars led by five points twice in the fourth quarter, but Simpson took charge and led Chaminade to the win and the championship.

Chaminade advances to the CIF Southern California Regionals that begin next week. The regional brackets will be released Sunday.

Capistrano Valley also qualified for the regionals by reaching the CIF-SS semifinals.

Capistrano Valley was trying for its fourth CIF-SS boys basketball title, having won its most recent one in 2017.


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