Los Angeles Preps: Brad Amburgey

I.E.: 5 short stories from last week

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
3:48
PM PT
1. One way to get a grip on the size of Indio’s upset last week against Palm Desert is to scan the results before and after that night. In a Desert Valley League opener Jan. 3, the Rajahs were smoked by Palm Desert, 72-39. The Aztecs, who came into last week ranked No. 8 in the Inland Empire by ESPNLA, probably thought they were winding down a similar stroll last Monday, holding an 11-point fourth-quarter lead inside Indio's gym. But the Rajahs staged a monumental rally and won, 60-59, on a last-second layup by Xavier Thomas. They barely had time to savor the victory, however, getting blown out two days later, 75-45, against Palm Springs. On Friday night, Indio received a taste of its own medicine, losing on a last-second basket by Xavier Prep, 60-59.

2. Don’t be fooled by the wispy 6-foot-2 frame on Colony senior guard Miles Poullard. He cleared a personal-best 6-11 in the high jump at last season’s Southern Section Masters track and field meet, eventually finishing fifth in state. Poullard was flying high last week after the Titans avenged an earlier loss to Don Lugo in Mt. Baldy League play. Poullard scored eight of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as Colony held off the Conquistadors, 67-61. Don Lugo beat the Titans by two points earlier this month, only the second league loss in the last seven years for Colony.

3. It’s easy to find Brad Amburgey on the floor. The Big Bear High junior guard has made a state-leading 99 three-pointers in 259 attempts this season (38.2 percent), taking 76 percent of his field-goal attempts from beyond the arc. He set a San Bernardino County record with 117 threes last season, which was third most in the state. Amburgey, who averages a state-leading 5.2 threes a game, is 31 makes short of cracking the Southern Section all-time top 10 for a season. He has three regular season games remaining, followed by the single-elimination playoffs. If he stays on the same pace during his senior year, he has a good shot to move into the section’s top five for career three-pointers.

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1. A surprise early leader has emerged in the Big VIII League, as Roosevelt is the lone unbeaten team after three games. Despite a pair of three-game losing streaks this season, the Mustangs (8-7, 3-0) have won the three that counted, knocking off Norco, Riverside Poly and Corona in league play -- the two most recent wins by double digits. Roosevelt doesn’t have a go-to guy on offense. Senior guards Kendall Brown (11.1 ppg), Shawn Joseph (10.5), Jalen Young (8.2) and Jevion Roland (8.0) have taken turns leading the team in scoring this season. Tonight’s another big test for the Mustangs, as they host preseason league favorite J.W. North (11-4, 2-1) at 6 p.m.

2. The Mt. Baldy League was expected to be a two-horse race between Colony and Montclair, but Don Lugo staked a claim Friday night with a 72-70 victory against visiting Colony, only its second league loss in the last 64 games. Now the Conquistadors (10-4, 2-0) have a date tonight at Montclair (14-1, 2-0) at 6:30 p.m., with the winner taking sole possession of first place. With the recent domination of Colony in the Mt. Baldy League, the Conquistadors haven’t been in this position in a long time. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off another big win.

3. Palm Desert tuned up for Wednesday’s showdown at Palm Springs with a 72-43 victory Friday night at Coachella Valley. The Aztecs (10-3, 2-0) have dropped five straight Desert Valley League games against the Indians (8-4, 2-0), including their only two league losses the last two seasons. They ramped up for this occasion with a strong nonleague schedule. Most impressive was a 15-point loss Dec. 10 against the state’s top-ranked team, Mater Dei, when Palm Desert trailed by just four points at the start of the fourth quarter. Lakers coach Mike Brown, whose son, Elijah, plays for the Monarchs, reportedly took the time afterward to compliment the Aztecs on their effort.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
6:37
PM PT
With the boys' basketball season a week under way, some teams have already proved they're a force to be reckoned with, while a few others have started a step slow. Here's a look at the teams and players to watch in the coming months, and where you can see them play.

1. J.W. North, 4-0

The Huskies return their top two scorers from last season’s 19-11 team. Aaron Peck, a 6-4 senior forward, was an all-Division 2A selection after averaging a team-high 17.5 points and nine rebounds. He forms a dangerous trio up front with 6-5 junior forwards Marcus Baugh (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Dorian Butler (7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Rancho Verde transfer DeShon Taylor, a sophomore guard, more than shores up the back court.

2. Etiwanda, 3-1

The Eagles graduated their top five scorers from last season’s team that advanced to the Division 1AA semifinals but should regroup well behind their next superstar, sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin. The 5-11 ball handler scored 20 points Saturday night in a 72-61 loss to LaVerne Lutheran in the Rose City Classic championship game in Pasadena. Etiwanda will also count on 6-4 junior forward Sheldon Blackwell and 6-3 senior guard Dominique Walker.

3. Murrieta Valley, 5-0

The Nighthawks graduated their top two scorers from a team that finished 24-4 last season but appear to have filled the gaps in a hurray, evident by their 58-54 victory last weekend against Rancho Verde in the final of the Big Daddy tournament at Citrus Hill High. Darius Butler, a 6-3 senior forward, and Reid Shackelford, a 5-11 senior guard, appear willing and able to step into scoring roles. Butler is averaging 21 points through the first five games after averaging 8.7 last season, and Shackelford has bumped his scoring average up from 3.6 last season to 18.8. Jackson Helms, a 6-7 senior forward, is also rounding into one of the region’s better big men.

4. Rancho Verde, 3-1

Jordan Grace, a 6-2 senior guard, is a returning Division I-AA selection. He’ll team up nicely with 6-foot senior guard Kendall Schmidt, who transferred from Woodcrest Christian after averaging 25 points a game last season. Sophomore guards Jalen Hall and Tre Nottingham and 6-3 junior forward Lance Jones give the Mustangs additional depth, while 6-6 newcomer Khalil Fuller, the brother of Vanderbilt guard Kyle Fuller, will push to join the rotation.

5. Colony, 3-1

The Titans return their two best players from last season’s team, which finished 20-10, including 11-1 in the Mt. Baldy League, and advanced to the Division 2AA quarterfinals. Miles Poullard, a 6-2 senior guard, and Everett Turner, a 6-foot junior guard, were all-Division 2AA selections last season. With no player taller than 6-4 on the roster, the Titans will need to maintain an up-tempo pace to be successful.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the holiday break

January, 3, 2011
1/03/11
1:28
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1. Etiwanda is off to a 14-0 start after winning the Westlake Village Oaks Christian tournament last week. The Eagles still have a ways to go to match the 23 straight they won to start the 2007-08 season. USC-bound guard Byron Wesley is playing to expectations, averaging 18.3 points. Jordan Daniels is at 12.5 and Tyler LaCour is at 11.2. The Eagles open Baseline League play Friday against visiting Rancho Cucamonga.

2. Corona Centennial certainly joined the upper-echelon of Southland boys' basketball teams with its performance last week at the Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High School. Playing in the prestigious National Division, the Huskies won three of four games, including a 61-58 victory against Woodland Hills Taft, ranked No. 2 in the state by ESPN RISE heading into the tournament. They followed that up with a 59-51 victory against another City Section power, Westchester, in the fifth-place game.

3. Justin Gudger of Murrieta Valley was expected to be one of the top players in the Inland Empire this season, but he was better than advertised at the Holiday Classic. Playing in the Senator’s Division, the 6-foot-4 senior forward averaged 23.5 points over four games. He was especially hot over the last two, scoring 30 points on 12-for-19 shooting in a 67-62 loss to San Diego St. Augustine, then putting up 28 on 12-for-14 shooting in a 66-55 victory against North Hollywood Campbell Hall.

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