ANAHEIM – All week long, Artesia High boys basketball coach Loren Grover has been fighting a cold but late Saturday night, he started feeling much better when his team replaced the chicken soup they were originally going to give him with a ring instead. Sophomore forward Renardo Sidney had 22 points and 14 rebounds and McDonald All-American James Harden had 19 and 10 as the Pioneers defeated Mater Dei 77-68 to win the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA championship at the Honda Center. “In the second half, our defensive intensity picked up and that’s a credit to our players. I can’t say enough about them. They’ve played great all year and they deserve this.” The Monarchs, who are ranked 13th in the nation by USA Today, were hoping to avenge an earlier 1-point loss to the Pioneers in December and in the second quarter, it looked like they were going to when Duke signee Taylor King hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give them a 31-30 lead. Artesia would eventually come back to tie the game at 38-38as the two teams headed into the locker rooms at halftime. In the third quarter, neither team could make any sort of significant run but Harden, who’s going to Arizona State next season, gave the Pioneers a 56-55 lead with a dunk at the end of the period. The title was the second straight Southern Section title for Artesia (29-2) and the first for Loren Grover, who took over for Scott Pera this season. “When it was time for us to step up, we did and when we get rolling, we’re awfully tough to stop,” Grover said. “We knew we were in for a tough battle but we felt like we were in control all game long. Artesia, which is ranked 12th in the nation by USA Today, then took a 68-62 lead with 3:11 left in the game but Mater Dei started creeping back when Alex Jacobson scored on a dunk to cut the lead to four points. The Pioneers lead shrunk even further on the Monarchs next possession on a basket by Travis Wear and after Artesia couldn’t score the next time it had the ball, Mater Dei had a chance to tie the game with 1:24 left. Kamyron Brown went to the free throw line but instead of knocking down two shots to pull even, he missed both and Harden was fouled the next time down the floor. Brown later admitted that he had dislocated his pinky finger on his shooting hand in the first quarter. “I probably hurt the team more than helped us by continuing to play,” Brown said. “It was hurting real bad but I tried to play through it but I had trouble shooting all game long and maybe that’s why I missed those two free throw shots.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!