A 16-game winning streak is enough to make any coach smile, but St. Bernard High School boys basketball pilot Reggie Morris won't be satisfied until his team makes it 17 straight. The Vikings haven't lost since Dec. 29 and on Saturday they play Ribet Academy for the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA title at 5:30 p.m. at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana.
Top-seeded St. Bernard (22-7) punched its shiny golden ticket to the finals with a hardfought 60-57 victory Friday night over fourth-seeded Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo. Junior guard Brandon Randolph has led the Vikings all season and did so against the visiting Rebels, scoring 18 points and letting out a sigh of relief after Mission Prep's freshman guard Quinton Aldesh's missed a game-tying three-pointer at the final buzzer.
Saturday's final is a rematch of last year's Division 5A quarterfinal in which the host Vikings prevailed 92-60. The third-seeded Fighting Frogs (19-9) are young. Eight of their 11 players are underclassmen and the other three are juniors, but despite having lost five seniors to graduation they upset second-seeded Village Christian 63-52 in the semifinals. St. Bernard also routed Ribet Academy 79-66 back on Jan. 21 at the Pangos Showcase in Las Vegas.
Morris has seemingly had the Midas Touch since he took over the program last season. In his first two years he has guided the Vikings to 48 victories and only 16 losses, back-to-back Camino Real League crowns and one Southern California regional championship. Now he wants his first section title, the Vikings having fallen in the Division 5A semifinals to Montclair Prep last winter.
The Vikings last tasted defeat at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, where they suffered a 71-61 loss to Lakewood Mayfair. Randolph earned All-CIF and All-State honors as a sophomore last year when he averaged 18.7 points.
Meanwhile, the St. Bernard girls squad was looking to advance to its second consecutive section final, but it fell one game short, losing to top-seeded Los Angeles Windward 59-52 Saturday night in the CIF-SS Division 4AA semifinals.
Bo Corona's team, which lost to Santa Clara in the Division 5AA finals last season, beat Muir of Pasadena 67-49 in Wednesday's quarterfinals, then gave defending Division 4 state champion Windward a scare Saturday, outscoring the Wildcats in the second half. All-CIF sophomore center Lajahna Drummer paced the fourth-seeded Vikings (25-8) with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Chyanne Butler added nine points for St. Bernard, which reached the Division 5 state final last year.