This may not have run in both Sunday editions, and doesn't seem to appear on the Star website, so, for the record, here's the column from Saturday's Thousand Oaks victory.
*--Cross-posted to "All Over The Place."
ANAHEIM -- The biggest guy on the court for the Thousand Oaks High boy's basketball team proved to be, well, the biggest guy on the court.
At a relatively slender 6-foot-7, Alex Tiffin is unlikely to be mistaken for Shaquille O'Neal -- unless you want to look at his line in the box score from Saturday's CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA championship game.
In just over 31 minutes, the junior forward filled up the box, with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and seven blocks.
That was twice as many points as any other player on the court, as many rebounds as anyone else -- and five more blocks than the combined total of the other 18 players who saw action in the Lancers' 59-55 win over Leuzinger.
As championship-game performances go, this was one big block party.
"When they penetrated," said Tiffin, "they didn't as much as other teams, to a big guy, or a relocation or something. So I could come up, and if I just put my hands straight up, occasionally, the ball just went into my hand."
That makes it sound like this was just another day, but Thousand Oaks fans -- chanting "Al-ex Tif-fin" during the championship presentation -- knew better. So did coach Rich Endres.
"Phenomenal," said Endres.
"This is a hard place to shoot -- very difficult to shoot. And he knocked down shots, he played great defense. He played a phenomenal game."
He did it from start to finish -- five points in the first quarter, five in the second, six in the third, and eight of his team's 18 in the fourth quarter, including the first basket in a 6-0 run that gave Thousand Oaks the lead for good at 57-53, and the clinching lay-up with 12.9 seconds left. Along with that, there were the blocks and rebounds, which just kept coming.
"You keep doing those things and you just want to keep doing them," said Tiffin, "because it's such a great feeling ... you just keep on going."
Tiffin finished 8 of 16 from the field, and even with five of those baskets coming in the paint, that kind of shooting night is no small feat at the Honda Center. It's the kind of big, spacious arena that often trips up high-school shooters because the acres of seating behind the basket (as opposed to the usual wall a few feet away) often play with players' depth perception.
"I don't think it was too big of an issue," said Tiffin. "Last Thursday and Friday we practiced at one of the local college courts" -- that would be Cal Lutheran, which while spacious, is certainly no Honda Center -- "just so we could get used to the size of the court. So I think that definitely helped us."
Tiffin proved to be the ideal player to exploit a flaw Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris Jr. said had existed all season, even if it had rarely mattered for a team that is now 26-5.
"They scored inside," said Morris, "which is one of the things we've probably gotten away with all year. We don't have a big physical presence, so that was something that really bothered us." Thirteen of Thousand Oaks' 21 baskets were in the paint.
"Whenever you have a guy that you can throw the ball inside to," said Morris, "being a post-up presence -- he's a skilled guy and he took advantage of his opportunities. ...
"I don't know how many jump shots he made. That was the concern coming in, that he could step outside and score. We hadn't been beaten by a post-up guy all year. ... We'd kind of gotten away with not having a post player."
That wasn't the case Saturday, mostly because Thousand Oaks did have a post player, and knew how to use him.
"I just had a good game," Tiffin said. "They got me the ball inside, and things went well."
Well enough to give Thousand Oaks its first championship in three attempts, to make it highly likely the Lancers will host a regional game on Tuesday, and to raise Kiffin's profile. Not that he was exactly a secret before this.
"He is on the map," said Endres. "There's college coaches calling all the time, talking with us about him. But he's going to continue to get better.
"He was nowhere like this last year at this time, and let's see where he is next year at this time. I'm hoping we can still be playing for him next year at this time when he's a senior.
"He's developing into a very good player, and I think he's going to be a lot better, a lot bigger, a lot stronger."
He was plenty big on Saturday.
Thousand Oaks has the championship plaque to prove it.
-- Contact columnist David Lassen at dlassen@VenturaCountyStar.com.