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I.E.: 5 short stories from last week

1/30/2012

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.

4. Another player with an interesting stat line is Andre Shumpert of San Bernardino High. Shumpert, who transferred from Santa Rita High in Tucson, Ariz., is averaging a section-leading 6.1 blocked shots a game. The 6-6 junior forward had 12 blocks in a 64-35 win Thursday against Rialto, the sixth time this season he has produced double digits in that category. He would seem to be a prime triple-double candidate, but he’s only averaging 2.5 points along with 5.5 rebounds. Scouts believe if he can work on his face-up offensive game and ball handling, he could develop into a Division 1 recruit.

5. Someone finally found a way to cool off Joseph Esthers. The 5-10 senior guard for Valley View was held to six points Thursday night in a 58-35 loss to Vista del Lago in an Inland Valley League game. He had scored in double digits in every previous game this season, including a 43-point effort earlier this month against first-place Rancho Verde. Esthers is delivering one of the biggest breakout seasons of any I.E. senior, increasing his scoring average from 6.8 last season to 18.8 this year. His scoring will be needed down the stretch, as Valley View is tied for fourth in a tightly bunched league race with four games remaining.