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Esperanza Aztecs beat Moreau Mariners 72-65 for D2 state title

SACRAMENTO — Down 17 early in the second quarter of Saturday’s state championship game with Esperanza-Anaheim, Moreau Catholic-Hayward senior guard Damari Milstead had an immediate thought. The last time the Mariners played for a state championship, Milstead was a green but talented freshman. Behind mammoth efforts from freshman Kyree Walker (game-high 28 points, 10 rebounds) and Milstead (22 points), Moreau made a game of it, but lost 72-65 in the Division 2 championship game at Golden 1 Center. When Walker, a rugged and versatile 6-foot-6 guard, drilled a three-pointer with 5:05 left in the third quarter, Moreau Catholic (25-10) took a 37-36 lead, sending the Mariners’ faithful into a frenzy. [...] Esperanza (30-3), led by savvy and versatile 6-8 point guard Kenzie Okpala, was resilient and certainly battle-tested, playing in the hotbed of Southern California. Garrett Geiger (10 points) came right back on the Aztecs’ next possession and powered in a basket, starting a 9-0 run. [...] the Stanford-bound Okpala (22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) and Brendan Harrick (25 points, 10-of-20 from the floor), were just too tough, handing the Mariners their second state final defeat in four years. Esperanza coach Mark Hill put Okpala on the 6-2 Milstead and the Grand Canyon-bound standout, who has piled up more than 2,300 points and 100 wins in his career, was clearly bothered. MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

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