California City’s boys basketball team bused nearly 180 miles from northern Antelope Valley Friday to untie the shoes of Caruthers’ improbable run to Selland Arena.
The top-seeded Ravens of the High Desert League – which joined the Central Section in the 2013-14 season – received six 3-pointers and 20 points from Jordan Mays, outscored the No. 11 Blue Raiders 27-6 from behind the arc and won 77-72 for the Division V title.
California City, which had averaged 84.6 points and 35.5 3-point attempts a game coming in, improved to 22-5.
The Ravens made 9 of 31 shots from behind the arc against Caruthers.
“They get an open look, knowing they have a green light and the ball is going up,” said California City coach Ronald Fleming. “That’s the way we practice, a lot of man-to-man pressure and we let it fly.”
Senior guard Ishaan Rahal, returning to Selland after playing on Caruthers’ D-V winning team in 2015, made 12 of 21 shots, scored 29 points and also had four steals.
“It was a good feeling getting here as a senior,” he said. “Falling short’s not the best thing, but it was a good experience, for sure.”
The Raiders, coached for the first season by former Clovis West 12-year assistant Jon Heinz, arrived with a 12-16 record, but had beaten No. 6 Laton, No. 3 Farmersville and No. 2 Fresno Christian in the playoffs.
They began the season 4-7 without Rahal, who was in Germany as an exchange student, and minus Elijah Reyes, who returned to the program after his family had moved.
Reyes made all six of his field-goal attempts and finished with 16 points for Caruthers, which led 39-35 early in the third quarter.
“When you play without your best players, it’s a little different,” Heinz said. “Once we got those guys back, we started to mesh.
“We talked all year that we were as good as anybody at this level, and that was truly the case. Once we found consistency and got locked in, that got us here.”
The Raiders will join California City and one additional section D-V team in the CIF State Regionals next week.
All of the section’s boys and girls representatives – 28 in all – won’t know if they’ll play in the state’s North or South regions until Sunday’s seedings.