Los Angeles Preps: Blair Holliday

LA North and LA South: Windward 58, Oaks Christian 52

March, 19, 2011
ONTARIO -- From a statistical standpoint, Wesley Saunders might not have had the best game of his high school basketball career during Saturday's Southern California Regional playoffs.

However, the senior forward from Los Angeles Windward did just enough to guide the Wildcats to a 58-52 victory over Westlake Village Oaks Christian in a Division IV championship game.

"Numbers don't always tell the story, especially when it somes to Wesley,'' Windward coach Miguel Villegas said. "There's no way to measure all the things he does well over the course of a game.''

When all was said and done, Saunders finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Wildcats (26-8), who played well early on and took a 29-18 advantage at the halftime break.

The Lions (26-8) were seemingly in trouble from the jump. Starters Chass Bryan and Blair Holliday began the game on the bench because of disciplinary reasons. Bryan, a point guard, finally entered play with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. Holliday, a shooting guard, checked into the game at the beginning of the second quarter.

Oaks Christian made things interesting in the fourth quarter behind Taylor Hange, who scored nine of his 12 points in the final eight minutes of play as the Lions cut the deficit to one point with 5:46 left in the game.

The Harvard-bound Saunders answered, of course. He scored, was fouled on the play, and made the subsequent free-throw to extend the lead to six points with less than three minutes remaining.

"I came out an played my game tonight, that's what I wanted to do,'' Saunders said.

Nick Stover scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half of play for Windward.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Boys Division IV

Colony High School in Ontario

Oaks Christian (26-7) vs. Windward (25-8) Saturday, 7 p.m.

This will be the second meeting of the season between Oaks Christian and Windward. The two teams met for the first time at Windward on Feb. 5.

Windward’s Wesley Saunders had a big night shooting. The senior power forward scored 26 points and was 10-of-18 from the field. He also had 13 rebounds and five assists. Windward outscored Oaks Christian, 20-8, in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 72-53 win.

“He was the big difference in that fourth quarter,” Windward coach Miguel Villegas said.

The Harvard-bound Saunders led three players from Windward in double figures in that game against Oaks Christian. Jordan Wilson scored 14 points and Charles Dawson had 12.

Blair Holliday led Oaks Christian with 19 points and made two 3-pointers. Chass Bryan was the only other player from Oaks Christian who scored in double figures. He had 12.

Oaks Christian hasn’t lost a game since the setback to Windward in February. The Lions have an eight-game winning streak, including 66-48 over Buckley in the Southern Section Division 4A championship game.

Windward has won nine of its past 10 games. The only loss was against Orange Lutheran, 78-71, in the Southern Section Division 4AA championship.

Key players: Oaks Christian has four players who are averaging double figures in scoring. Bryan is leading the team with 15.3 points per game and 4.7 assists per game. Holliday, who’s headed to Duke to play football, is second on the team with 12.0 points per game.

Dillon van der Wal is the team’s leading rebounder at 9.3 per game and is scoring 11.0 points per game. He’s going to Vanderbilt to play football. Taylor Hange is scoring 10.3 points per game.

Windward has a triple scoring threat in Saunders, Wilson and Nick Stover. Saunders leads the team in scoring with 20.2 points per game. He is also the team’s leading rebounder at 10.0 per game and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game.

Stover is second on the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game. Wilson, the team’s sophomore guard, is averaging 11.0 points per game. Luke Silverman-Lloyd has made 65 3-pointers and is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.

LA North: Oaks Christian 66, Buckley 48

March, 5, 2011
ANAHEIM -- Blair Holliday looked toward his Westlake Village Oaks Christian High teammates during the first half of Saturday's Southern Section boys' basketball championship game and put three fingers in the air after another one of his 3-pointers found nothing but the bottom of the net.

The senior guard, as they say, was feeling it.

At times, it seemed as if he could not miss.

Holliday connected on four three-pointers in first quarter alone against Sherman Oaks Buckley, had five from beyond the arc by halftime and finished with career-high 26 points for the Lions in a 66-48 Division 4A victory at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“Blair was pretty average today,'' Oaks Christian coach Andre Chevalier jokingly said. “He led us to a title today, he stepped when we needed him the most.''

The fact Holliday played particularly well might come as a surprise to some considering he is thought to be a football players first, which best explains his gridiron scholarship to play at Duke next year.

Nevertheless, he scored 12 points in the first quarter to help top-seeded Oaks Christian (24-7) take a 11-point lead. Holliday scored seven straight points in the second quarter and the Lions ended up taking a 32-11 lead at the break.

“During warm-ups, I wasn't hitting my shots, I was a little worried,'' Holliday said. “After my first shot went in, then the second, I started feeling good. I play my best, I think, on the big stage.''

(Read full post)

LA North: Football recruits

February, 1, 2011
Here's the next round of football recruits and where they have committed ahead of Wednesday's signing day. A couple of Crespi kids are headed to Fresno State. The LA North produced quite a number of talented wide receivers. Nelson Spruce from Westlake is headed to Colorado. Blair Holliday from Oaks Christian is going to Duke.


Will Oliver, K, Harvard-Westlake

Nelson Spruce, WR, Westlake


Curtis Arndt, OL, Moorpark


Blair Holliday, wide receiver, Oaks Christian

Fresno State

Charles Washington DB, Crespi

Ronald Ussery DL, OL, Crespi

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

January, 25, 2011
There are no significant changes at the top of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 boys' basketball rankings this week. A shakeup toward the bottom half of the top 10, however, was in order after one team was dealt a surprising setback.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that a pair of programs are making their first appearance in the rankings following the exits of Murrieta Valley and Los Angeles Fairfax, a pair of schools that could be back in the mix sooner rather than later.

Some other teams to keep a close eye on are Aliso Niguel, Compton and La Verne Damien, along with Pasadena, Ventura and Los Angeles Washington. A couple of quality victories over the next couple of days figure to go a long way.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (18-0): Winning Moore League games by an average of 42 points. Are you kidding me? Running the table appears to be entirely possible.

2. (2) Etiwanda (20-0): Jordan Daniels doesn't receive enough credit. All of that, however, could end up changing if the senior point guard keeps the Eagles flying high.

3. (3) Mater Dei (18-2): There are no easy games in the tough Trinity League. St. John Bosco looms on Wednesday followed by a showdown with Orange Lutheran on Friday.

4. (4) Centennial (16-3): Big VIII League games against Riverside King on Tuesday evening and Riverside Poly on Thursday night figure to offer little, or no, resistance.

5. (5) Taft (15-2): Kevin Johnson has been focused on the task at hand recently. And make no mistake, when the senior is motivated, the Toreadors are seemingly unstoppable.

6. (7) Westchester (18-5): With a showdown against rival Fairfax on Thursday, perhaps the Comets are primed for an upset loss Wednesday against Hamilton. Perhaps not.

7. (8) Canyon (19-2): Chris Anderson might be a tad bit undersized. He is, after all, 5-foot-7. Thing is, no one plays a bigger role tor the Comanches than the senior point guard.

8. (9) Harvard-Westlake (17-2): Damiene Cain and Zena Edosomwan are a potent one-two punch down in the post and they work the high-low game to near perfection.

9. (10) Mission Viejo (22-0): At 6-10, Issac Neilson is proving to be a force on both ends of the floor. Aliso Niguel will attempt to stop the BYU-bound senior on Friday night.

10. (6) Orange Lutheran (16-5): Suffered a setback with loss to Cezar Guerrero and St. John Bosco. Now, it is time to see how the Lancers respond to some adversity.

(Read full post)

1. Oaks Christian (12-2) – Oaks Christian won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship, 29-28, over Westlake in the championship game. Oaks Christian loses a ton of senior skill players, including receiver Blair Holliday to Duke and defensive end Dillon Van Der Wal to Arizona State. Running back/defensive back Ishmael Adams, receiver Jordan Payton and linebacker Carlos Mendoza are only a couple of players who will be seniors next season.

2. Alemany (12-1) – In its first tour through the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs, Alemany made it to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Servite, 28-21. Senior quarterback Vernon Adams led the team in almost every offensive category. He threw for 2,901 yards and 27 touchdowns. He rushed for 896 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns. He led Alemany in passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He will be a tough one to replace next season.

3. Westlake (12-2) – The Westlake football team lost only two games by a combined two points. The first loss came against St. Bonaventure, 32-31, in double overtime. The second loss came against Oaks Christian in the Northern Division championship. Westlake loses some key players on offense to graduation. Quarterback Nick Isham, running back Tavior Mowry and receiver Nelson Spruce are all seniors. The offense will be most likely be in the hands of sophomore quarterback Justin Moore and sophomore running back Dashon Hunt. Moore and Hunt also saw considerable playing time at defensive back.

4. St. Bonaventure (11-2) – St. Bonaventure lost to Westlake, 37-27, in the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs. Linebacker Cody Kurz and defensive back Tanner Souza anchored a stingy St. Bonaventure defense that posted three shutouts and held eight opponents to 17 points or less. Kurz and Souza are seniors. The offense has three key players returning. Quarterback Marc Evans, running back Shaun Wick and receiver Jeremy Sanchez are juniors.

5. Paraclete (13-1) – Paraclete won the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division championship, beating Sierra Canyon, 14-7, in the title game. Paraclete lost its opening night game, then rattled off 13 wins in a row. The Paraclete running game should be in good hands, so to speak. Ryan Davis is a junior and rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown in the East Valley Division championship game. His brother, Roosevelt Davis, is a senior and gained 53 yards on 11 carries in addition to picking off a pass on defense against Sierra Canyon.

Paraclete had two sophomores, Travion Boykins and Uriah Trailer, who made significant contributions this season.

(Read full post)

WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- Westlake receiver Nelson Spruce scored two touchdowns for his team in a 31-12 Marmonte League win over Oaks Christian on Friday night. He caught seven passes for 115 yards.

His biggest catch of the night came on a 21-yard pass from quarterback Nick Isham in the third quarter.

Westlake, the No. 2-ranked team by ESPNLA.com, was up 21-12 and had just scored a touchdown on 1-yard keeper by Isham.

Oaks Christian, the No. 12 team in the ESPNLA.com rankings, was driving down the field and looking to close the gap when a fumbled snap led to a crucial turnover.

Defensive end Johnny Stuart scooped up the loose ball for Westlake on the Oaks Christian 27-yard line. Westlake took over on the 21-yard line.

On the next play from scrimmage, Isham hit Spruce with a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to give Westlake a comfortable 28-12 lead. The touchdown knocked the wind out of the Oaks Christian offense.

Isham was 21-for-26 passing and threw for 268 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Spruce was Isham’s favorite target. Jared Fry caught four passes for 31 yards. Tre’Shon Wilson caught two passes for 71 yards. He caught a pass along the sideline that he turned into a 63-yard reception in the third quarter.

After the two teams played a scoreless first quarter, Westlake struck first capping a second-quarter drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tavior Mowry. He rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries.

(Read full post)

LA North: Oaks Christian deep at running back, wide receiver

September, 3, 2010
Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell says his team lacks depth. Being at a school with only 700 students, finding serviceable football players can be challenging.

But Redell said his team is deep at two positions: running back and receiver.

Two of the Oaks Christian receivers are headed to NCAA Division I programs. Jordan Payton is going to USC and Blair Holliday recently decided he was going to Duke.

The running backs might be even deeper than the receivers.

Redell said he has four running backs he plans on rotating in his team’s first game against Alemany tonight.

“We might go a little bit by committee, like SC does,” Redell said. “We got a kid named Ishmael Adams, who transferred Georgia, Atlanta, and he’s outstanding, as well as an outstanding defensive back.”

In addition to Adams, Oaks Christian will use Ronnie Camacho, Cole Brownell and Carlos Mendoza at running back, at least in the first game.

“We’re going to have four really good running backs, three of them start on defense, so we probably can rotate them on offense,” Redell said. “Give them a little rest that way, rather than one guy having to play four plays all the time, like say Malcolm Jones did last year.”