Kalani Brown earns dramatic state title
First an NBA championship, and, now -- finally -- the Brown family has won a state title.
It took a bizarre overturning of a playoff defeat and some clutch play in the final, but Kalani Brown, the No. 5 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25 for the 2015 class, on Friday night became the first athlete in her family to earn a state title.
Her mother, Dee, a 6-3 post player who played at Louisiana Tech, never won a state title. And neither did her father, P.J. Brown, who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
But now Kalani, a 6-5 sophomore, has led Salmen (Slidell, La.) to the Class 4A crown.
“I’m truly blessed,” Kalani said. “It felt great to be the first in the family to accomplish this goal.”
For a while, it looked like Kalani was going to have to wait at least another year to scratch that goal off the family bucket list.
Salmen lost a quarterfinal playoff game to Vandebilt Catholic (Houma, La.) 48-44. Kalani had 8 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists and five blocks, but the season appeared to be over for Salmen.
That changed when the state ruled Vandebilt had used an ineligible player. Vandebilt was ordered to forfeit its win, which put sixth-seeded Salmen into the state semifinals.
However, it wasn’t until one hour before the semifinal was set to tip off that a judge rejected Vandebilt’s appeal, which allowed Salmen to take the court.
“Our season could be a documentary,” said Dee, who also serves as a Salmen assistant coach. “It was crazy.”
In the semifinals, Salmen routed St. Michael the Archangel (Baton Rouge, La.) 63-34, and Kalani had 24 points and 15 rebounds.
Finally, on Friday, Salmen (30-3) rallied to beat St. Thomas More (Lafayette, La.) 40-39 on a pair of free throws by Megan Brown (no relation) with .6 seconds left. Brown had been fouled on a 3-point try. She missed the first free throw but made the next two for the winning points.
Kalani finished with 12 points, 17 rebounds and three assists, earning Most Outstanding Player honors.
“This is really sweet,” Kalani said. “It’s one of those accomplishments my parents told me was so hard to achieve. My parents are a big part of everything I do, and now I can share this with them.”
Kalani’s dad, P.J., “could not stop smiling,” according to Dee.
“He is shy by nature,” his wife said. “But he told Kalani he was proud and that the moment was so special.”
No. 1 Riverdale wins title
Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), the No. 1 team in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, won its second consecutive state championship with a 78-69 win over No. 22 Science Hill (Johnson City, Tenn.) in the Tennessee Class AAA final Saturday. Riverdale will take a 58-game winning streak into next season.
Springfield falls in Oregon, Central Catholic wins
Willamette (Eugene, Ore.) topped Springfield (Ore.) 48-41 Saturday in the Oregon girls’ Class 5A state final to bring an end to the high school career of Mercedes Russell, a Tennessee commit and the No. 1 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2013 class. Russell had a triple-double in Springfield’s semifinal win over Hermiston (Ore.) with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 12 blocks. In the final, Russell had 12 points and six rebounds. In the Oregon 6A final, Stanford commit Kailee Johnson, the No. 20 prospect in the 2013 class, had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 25 Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.) to its first state title with a 57-36 win over South Medford (Medford, Ore.).
No. 9 North Gwinnett falls
Diamond DeShields, the No. 3 prospect in the 2013 class and a North Carolina commit, scored 24 points to lead Norcross (Ga.) past No. 9 North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.) 63-42 in the Georgia girls’ Class AAAAAA state championship game Saturday night. Norcross, which had lost to North Gwinnett twice this season, won its third state title in four years. In Georgia’s Class AAA final, Asia Durr, the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class, had 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead Pius X (Atlanta) to a 77-55 win over Dawson County (Dawsonville. Ga.).
Fairfield (Mont.) wins 78 straight
Unranked Fairfield (Mont.) won its third straight state title and its 78th straight game Saturday night with a 45-32 victory over Townsend in the Montana girls’ Class B state championship game. Fairfield finished its season 26-0.