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Nation's top sophomore leads St. John Bosco to California boys basketball state championship

Brandon McCoy, who's heralded as the No. 1 sophomore in the country, looked every bit of that on an NBA floor

SACRAMENTO - In the first week of January, St. John Bosco boys basketball coach Matt Dunn took questions from reporters after the Braves lost by 21 points to Mater Dei at Arena.

The team looked fractured amid a game riddled with poor possessions, lackluster defense and a lot of selfish basketball.

Dunn was candid.

"We're trying to find an identity on offense and if the coach doesn't know what that is right now, that's probably a bad thing," Dunn said that night.

Nine weeks later, the Braves found their identity: CIF State champions.

St. John Bosco topped San Ramon Valley 78-62 in a wire-to-wire Division I victory to claim the program's second CIF State title at the Golden 1 Center Friday night.

The Braves won a CIF State Division II championship in 2014. It was Dunn's second as a head coach after winning a Division III state crown with Damien in 2015.

"Brandon McCoy, Elzie Harrington and Jack Turner learned how to make their teammates better," Dunn said. "When that happened, everyone got comfortable. We changed some basketball things, but more than anything we just learned to make each other better."

Dunn pointed to stat on the box score that was the greatest indication of the team's improvement in sharing the ball since early January.

"I think against Mater Dei that night we had three assists. Tonight, we had 17," Dunn said.

Brandon McCoy, who's heralded as the No. 1 sophomore in the country, looked every bit of that on an NBA floor, tallying 18 points, eight rebounds and drawing seven fouls.

"He's really good," San Ramon Valley coach Brian Botteen said of McCoy.

Jack Turner led the Braves in scoring with 20 points, Elzie Harrington had 12 points and seven assists and Chris Komin had 11 points (with three 3s). San Ramon Valley's Luke Isaak led the Wolves with 18 points. Mason Thomas added 13.

St. John Bosco started the game making five of its first six 3-pointers en route to a 26-11 lead. The Braves made 11 of 22 attempts from downtown.

"We've played in a lot of big arenas and gyms this year, playing in a ton of tournaments and showcases," Dunn said. "I think that helped tonight."

The Braves outscored San Ramon Valley 38-24 in the painted area and 15-4 on fast break points.

San Ramon Valley got the game within 46-40 midway through the third quarter, but St. John Bosco responded with a run of its own and ballooned the lead back to 55-42 three minutes later. 

The Braves' largest lead of the game (18) came in the fourth quarter.

One of the biggest hurdles for St. John Bosco was beating Mater Dei in the SoCal regional final, which was the third time the two teams had met this season. The Monarchs won the first two matchups.

"That just gave us confidence more than anything," Harrington said.

St. John Bosco played with a ton of it Friday night.

Brandon McCoy

Brandon McCoy