Los Angeles Preps: Buena

The L.A. North baseball nine

March, 18, 2012
The high school baseball season started a couple weeks ago with a few area teams beginning league play last week. The L.A. North region has some talented teams, including the reigning City Section champions at San Fernando High School. Harvard-Westlake has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in Southern California. Valencia has one of the most potent offenses. Here is a look at the L.A. North nine, in alphabetical order, the teams to watch in the 2012 season:
  1. Alemany (7-1-1), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll, has an ace in Cody Thompson and will challenge Harvard-Westlake for the Mission League championship. Thompson threw five shut-out innings against Dos Pueblos in a 3-0 win on Tuesday. He has given up one run in his first 22 innings.
  2. Buena (8-1), ranked No. 10 in the Southern Section Division 2 poll, is coming off a 6-5 win over Santa Barbara. Senior shortstop Corey Dodge is hitting .680 with five doubles and seven RBIs in the first nine games of the season.
  3. Harvard-Westlake (7-2-1), the fourth-ranked team in the Southern Section Division 2 poll, swept Crespi in Mission League play last week. Starter Max Fried, who had 10 strikeouts in his team’s 3-1 win over Crespi on Friday, will be expected to carry the load for Harvard-Westlake after fellow starter and equally touted Lucas Giolito will have to sit out the season with an injured elbow.
  4. Malibu (7-1), the No. 7 team in the Southern Section Division 4 poll, won its first seven games of the season, including a doubleheader sweep of Channel Islands on March 10. The team is batting .388 and five players are hitting .444 or better. Senior infielder Jordan Simons leads the team with a .567 batting average.
  5. Newbury Park (6-1), the No. 9 team in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, has won four games in a row including its first two in Marmonte League play against Moorpark. Starter Luke Eubank is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 21 innings.
  6. San Fernando (6-2), the reigning City Section champion, has found an ace in sophomore Alonzo Garcia. He threw a one-hitter against Banning and improved to 3-0 last week. Garcia has a 0.73 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24 innings.
  7. Simi Valley (6-1), the No. 8 team in the Southern Section Division 1 poll, has possibly the best player in the Marmonte League in senior shortstop Cody Ramer. He hit .470 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 30 games as a junior.
  8. Valencia (5-1), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, has won four Foothill League championships in a row. The Vikings started league with a dominating, 13-5, win over Golden Valley, but lost to West Ranch, 2-1, on Friday. Valencia has three of the top hitters in Southern California in Trey Williams, AJ Balta and Brian Mundell. Balta, a junior, hit .425 with 11 home runs and 25 RBIs in his sophomore season.
  9. West Ranch (5-1-1) already has a few signature wins early in the season. The Wildcats drew first blood against Foothill League rival Valencia, 2-1, on Friday. Starter JC Cloney shut down the potent Valencia offense, giving up only three hits and striking out 11. West Ranch also beat Alemany, 4-3, in the Easton Tournament, and Chatsworth, 7-6.

L.A. North: Five things from the weekend

December, 5, 2011
  1. The Foothill League is starting the basketball season strong. The Valencia and Canyon boys' teams won tournaments over the weekend. Valencia won the Simi Valley tournament and beat highly touted El Camino Real, 88-77, in the championship game. Canyon won the Burbank Tournament ousting a talented Renaissance Academy of La Canada team, 53-50, in the title game. Valencia’s Troy Hammel earned Simi Valley tournament MVP by scoring 18 points against El Camino. Canyon’s Clay Kasdorf was the MVP of the Burbank Tournament and scored 15 points in the game against Renaissance Academy.
  2. The Canyon girls' basketball team is off to an impressive start as well. Canyon won the Nike Central Valley tournament against some of the top teams from the CIF Central Section. Canyon beat Lynwood, 33-30, in the championship game and knocked off Clovis West, 59-57, in the semifinals. Jaya Schultz earned tournament MVP. She scored 17 points against Clovis West and had eight points against Lynwood in the defensive tussle of a championship game.
  3. The Calabasas boys' basketball team won the Campbell Hall tournament in a matchup of two of the top young guards in the San Fernando Valley. Calabasas won the championship game, 72-57, behind 22 points and eight assists from sophomore Jeremy Lieberman. Campbell Hall’s freshman phenom Aaron Holiday scored 26 points, 15 in the first half, and was 10-of-22 from the field.
  4. The Thousand Oaks boys' basketball team won the Nordhoff Tournament, beating Buena, 69-25, in the championship game. Eric Greene scored 13 points in the championship game and earned tournament MVP. Dakota Pierce scored a game-high 20 points for Thousand Oaks against Buena. Tanner Fanjoy added 18 points and was selected with Pierce to the all-tournament team.
  5. Harvard-Westlake’s Cami Chapus gutted out a ninth-place finish in the girls seeded race at the Footlocker Cross Country West Region meet and earned a spot in the national finals meet next week. Battling the after-effects of bronchitis, Chapus completed the 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 34 seconds at Mt. San Antonio College. By finishing in the top 10 at the West Region meet, she earned a spot in the nationals meet at Balboa Park in San Diego on Dec. 10.

Buena DB chooses San Diego State

October, 28, 2011
Kendrick Mathis, a defensive back at Buena High School in Ventura, has committed to San Diego State, according to a report in Scout.com.

Mathis, who also plays quarterback for Buena, has four interceptions for the Bulldogs.

He has also scored eight rushing touchdowns and has 737 yards on the ground, an average of 92.1 yards per game.

Padilla returns after brain surgery

October, 11, 2011
Adrian Padilla spent nearly three weeks in a hospital in San Luis Obispo recovering from a concussion he suffered in a football game on the road in the second week of the season.

He needed surgery to reduce the swelling in his brain and spent 19 days in a strange hospital, 150 miles away from his home in Oxnard. He needs at least one more operation to complete the brain surgery that was started more than a month ago.

“Those 19 days were the longest days of my life,” Padilla said. “When I was finally released, the first thing I went was to the high school to be with my family. I couldn’t see all of them, but the next day I went back to practice and I was with everyone. I just felt normal being back.”

Mark Beckham, the Oxnard football coach, designated Padilla as an honorary team captain for Friday night’s game against Ventura. He walked out to midfield with three of his teammates for the opening coin flip. He needs to wear a helmet to protect his head, which is still healing after the weeks of operations on his skull and brain.

Instead of the traditional handshakes that are exchanged between the opposing players after the coin flip, the Ventura players hugged Padilla. It was clear Padilla’s return was not only an inspiration to his teammates, but to all the football players and coaches at the game.

Padilla is lucky to be alive. He will probably never play football again, certainly not with the Oxnard football team. He is a senior, and was learning a new position at outside linebacker.

In the game against San Luis Obispo, his coaches sent him on a blitz and hit his head on the play and walked to the sidelines. He told his coaches he was hurt and took himself out of the game, and a coach told him to sit down on the bench. Padilla collapsed on the sideline.

He says the next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital four days later.

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Inland Empire and LA North: Rialto 44, Buena 42

March, 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- Stunning. Unbelievable. For the second time in two weeks, Janae Sharp grabbed a dagger from midair and thrust it into the heart of Buena High School.

With a scant 2.8 seconds left in a tie score — Buena getting the ball because of a controversial offensive foul — a long pass downcourt bounced once. Sharpe grabbed it on the run, took one step and let fly at the free-throw line. Fractions of a second later, the buzzer sounded on history.

Top-seeded Rialto scored a 44-42 victory over second-seeded Buena to win the Southern California Regional championship on Saturday at Galen Center. The Knights (33-3) are headed to the state finals for the first time where they will play Stockton St. Mary’s, a 56-48 winner over Loomis Del Oro.

The Cal State Northridge-bound Sharpe scored eight points. Brittany Walker scored 12 and Summer Webb 10.

Two weeks ago, Sharpe was the hero when she drove through traffic and her shot danced on the rim before falling true as the buzzer sounded in a 55-53 victory over Buena (26-8).

No one questioned the beauty, credibility or enormity of Sharpe’s game-winner in Round 2, but that Rialto even had the ball was open for debate.

“I’ve always preached about being positive, in conducting yourself in a manner to be proud of, but I don’t think my mom would have any problem with me saying that was probably the worst call in high school sports,” said Buena coach David Guenther.

Rialto had taken a 40-35 lead when Brittani Walker scored inside after a nifty pass from Webb, but then went almost four minutes without a point. After Keani Albanez made three of four free throws in the last minute that gave Buena a 42-40 advantage with 21 seconds remaining. Sharpe scored on a drive with 15 seconds remaining.

The score tied at 42-42, Albanez — who led all scorers with 19 points — drove the length of the court. When she collided with Denae Williams, Albanez was whistled for the offensive foul, her fifth.

“I thought it was a great call,” Rialto coach Michael Anderson said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Albanez said.

Only 2.8 seconds remained.

Needing a near miracle, Walker threw a football pass as Sharpe broke down the court. The deep defender hesitated.

Sharpe didn’t. And then the shot fell.

LA North: Five things from the weekend

February, 21, 2011
1. The players on the Cleveland boys basketball team are making no secrets they want another shot at Woodland Hills Taft. The two teams meet in the quarterfinals of the CIF City Section Division 1 playoffs on Tuesday night. Taft, the top seed in the Division 1 playoffs, has won the previous two games against Cleveland by pretty significant margins. The first time the two teams met on Jan. 21, Taft won, 69-32. The second time, at Cleveland High School on Feb. 9, Taft won 79-40. That’s an average winning margin of victory of 38 points. Taft is coming off an 80-point win over Hollywood in the first round of the playoffs. Cleveland escaped with a two-point win over Fremont in its first-round game. This one has blowout written all over it.

2. The Valencia boys basketball team is in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs and will play third-seeded Etiwanda on Tuesday night. Valencia, the 12th seed in the playoffs, pulled off a bit of an upset in the second round. The Vikings beat fifth-seeded Murrieta Valley, 77-70, on the road. Valencia and Etiwanda played in the Oaks Christian Holiday Invitational in December, but didn’t play each other. Eitiwanda won the tournament. Valencia finished in fourth place. They had two common opponents in that tournament. Etiwanda beat Sacramento in the semifinals and beat Loyola in the championship game. Valencia lost to Loyola in the semis and lost to Sacramento in the third-place game.

3. Loyola opened the CIF Southern Section Division 1A playoffs with a bang. The Cubs beat Highland by 40 points, 98-58, in the second round of the playoffs. Loyola had a bye in the first round. Joe Stein scored 24 points, 19 in the first half, as Loyola built a 55-26 lead at halftime. Loyola plays ninth-seeded Montclair on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals. Montclair beat Rialto, 55-50, in the first round and El Toro, 73-33, in the second round.

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LA North: Five things from the weekend

January, 17, 2011
1. The Woodland Hills Taft boys basketball team was put to the test again against Mt. Vernon from New York in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Taft won 72-56. The matchup pitted Colorado-bound point guard Spencer Dinwiddie from Taft against West Virginia-bound Jabarie Hinds from Mount Vernon. Dinwiddie and Taft held Hinds to 18 points on 7-of-25 shooting. Hinds was also 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Dinwiddie scored only five points, but he had 11 assists. The star of the game was Taft center Kevin Johnson who had 26 points and 13 rebounds. Taft steps off the national stage and returns to West Valley League play against El Camino Real on Wednesday.

2. The War on the Floor Showcase at Pierce College featured some of the best high school basketball the San Fernando Valley has to offer. Alemany exercised one its demons earlier in the week by ending an 11-game losing streak against Crespi. In the War on the Floor, Alemany continued its strong play by beating Oaks Christian, 70-67, in one of the more exciting games of the year. Alemany’s Jordan Fuller hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. Chass Bryan from Oaks Christian tied the game, 67-67, with 3.2 seconds left in the game. It was an exciting back-and-forth game in which Alemany erased a four-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.

3. The Harvard-Westlake girls basketball team lost only one game en route to a CIF Division 4 state championship last year. Harvard-Westlake has already lost eight games this year, but the girls extended their home winning streak to 22 games and their winning streak against Bellarmine-Jefferson to four games on Saturday night. Harvard-Westlake beat Bell-Jeff, 61-55, behind 18 points from Natalie Florescu. The Wolverines beat Bell-Jeff three times, including in the CIF Division 4 state regional quarterfinals, last year. Harvard-Westlake started the week with a 51-46 loss to Chaminade and ended a 13-game Mission League winning streak. Since losing to the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Students in the West Coast Holiday Classic, Harvard-Westlake has won seven of its past eight games. Harvard-Westlake has seven Mission League games remaining, starting with Flintridge Sacred Heart on Friday.

4. The Buena Showcase in Ventura featured some of the top girls basketball programs in the area. Host Buena beat Camarillo, 69-46. Keani Albanez scored 28 points and had eight steals for Buena. Valencia beat Rio Mesa, 67-38. Lauren Spargo had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Valencia. Santa Barbara routed Oxnard, 56-26. Four players from Santa Barbara scored in double figures. Riley Lloyd had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

5. Valencia running back Steven Manfro won the MVP of the Daily News All-Star game scoring three touchdowns and leading the East to a 21-20 win over the West at College of the Canyons in Valencia. Manfro gained 56 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 17 and 2 yards. He also caught 14-yard touchdown pass from Valencia quarterback Alex Bishop. The West had a chance to win the game after scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Hollywood’s Luke Reynolds broke up a two-point conversion try, knocking down a pass from Oaks Christian quarterback Richie Harrington to Thousand Oaks receiver Richard Mullaney. It was the fourth win in a row for the East All Stars in the 15-year history of the Daily News All-Star football game.

LA North: Girls' basketball top 10

January, 4, 2011
The Hart girls won the La Canada Tournament and cracked the top 10. The Canyon girls remain No. 1 and Bellarmine-Jefferson is No. 2 with impressive showings in the West Coast Holiday Classic. Buena represented Southern California well in the Junior Orange Bowl Classic in Florida.

1. (1) Canyon (13-2) – Canyon has won five of its last six games and is coming off a 48-34 win over Mira Costa in the West Coast Holiday Classic.

2. (2) Bellarmine-Jefferson (11-4) – Bell-Jeff won its last game in the West Coast Holiday Classic, 63-51, over La Costa Canyon. The Guards have won five of their past six games, losing to Troy from Fullerton, 38-33, in the West Coast Holiday Classic.

3. (3) Buena (12-4) – Buena went 2-1 in the Junior Orange Bowl Classic tournament in Florida. The Bulldogs beat Lourdes Academy and Coral Reef from Florida but lost to Hollywood Christian on the first day of the tournament.

4. (4) Agoura (9-5) – Agoura reached the semifinals of the Oaks Christian Holiday Classic before losing to Windward, 57-42. In the third-place game of the tournament, the Chargers lost to St. Joseph from Santa Maria, 51-43.

5. (5) Harvard-Westlake (9-7) – Harvard-Westlake ended the West Coast Holiday Classic on a winning note by beating Monroe and Beverly Hills after losing its first two games.

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LA North: Girls basketball top 10

December, 27, 2010
1. (3) Canyon (9-1) – The Canyon girls' basketball team lost its first game of the season, 72-64, to St. Bernard’s in the semifinals of the Burroughs Tournament. Canyon won the third-place game of the tournament, 68-48, over Calabasas. Alia McCoy made the all-tournament team and scored 13 points against Calabasas in the third-place game.

2. (2) Bellarmine-Jefferson (8-4) – Bell-Jeff went 2-2 in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona. The Bell-Jeff girls beat Tolleson, 64-52, and Central Catholic from Portland, Ore., 43-40. Bell-Jeff lost to Dougherty Valley, 49-37, and Chandler of Arizona, 53-50.

3. (4) Buena (10-3) – The Buena girls lost to St. Joseph’s of Santa Maria, 67-66 in overtime, in the championship game of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. Buena’s Keani Albanez scored 33 points in the loss. Buena went 3-1 in the tournament, beating Cathedral Catholic of San Diego, Chaminade and Arroyo Grande.

4. (5) Agoura (7-3) – After losing its first two games of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, Agoura finished strong. The Agoura girls beat Clovis North, 68-44, in their final game in the consolation bracket. Camile Mahlknecht scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds against Clovis North. Freshman Noam Leead scored 17 points for Agoura.

5. (1) Harvard-Westlake (7-6) – The Harvard-Westlake girls went 2-2 in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona. The Harvard-Westlake girls beat Palos Verdes, 52-48, and Alameda, 48-30. Harvard-Westlake lost to Mountain View, 45-41, and St. Francis from Sacramento, 58-38.

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LA North: Girls basketball top 10

December, 18, 2010
1. Harvard-WestlakeSkylar Tsutsui leads a Harvard-Westlake team that won the CIF Division 4 State championship last year. Tsutsui is averaging 13.4 points per game, but Harvard-Westlake has already lost three games this season. Last year’s Harvard-Westlake team lost only one game. Leslie Schuman is the top rebounder on the team averaging 11.3 per game.

2. Bellarmine-Jefferson – The Bell-Jeff girls reached the second round of the CIF Division 4 state playoffs, losing to Harvard-Westlake, 61-59, last year. This year’s team is off to a 5-1 start, its only loss against Gardena Serra in the Inglewood City of Champions tournament.

3. Canyon – Undefeated Canyon (7-0) won the Ventura Optimist tournament, downing Ventura, 59-44, in the championship game. Senior forward Adriana Dent leads the team in scoring with 15.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Alia McCoy is averaging 11.4 points per game.

4. Buena – Buena won the Buena Kiwanis Tournament, 51-49, over Ventura in the championship game. Buena (7-2) will be traveling to Florida for the Junior Orange Bowl Classic over the winter break.

5. Agoura – After losing its first game of the season, Agoura has won five in a row. Agoura lost to Ventura, 49-43, on opening night on Dec. 8. Agoura begins play in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions against Mira Costa on Monday.

6. Ventura – Ventura won its first three games of the season, then ran into some trouble in the Ventura Optimist Tournament. Ventura went 2-3 in the tournament. Meghan Shank leads the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game. Eda Graham is the leading rebounder with 5.6 per game.

7. Oaks Christian – Junior guard Brianna Barrett is averaging 13.8 and 4.7 assists per game for Oaks Christian (7-2). Senior forward Crystal Owusu is averaging 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. One of Oaks Christian’s losses was 65-47 to Bell-Jeff in the Inglewood City of Champions tournament.

8. Montclair Prep Alex Taylor scored 32 points in Montclair Prep’s opening night, 65-55, win over Glendale. Montclair is 3-1 in its first four games and begins play against Morningside in the Marymount Tournament on Monday.

9. Royal – Senior guards Chelsea Jacoby and Kaity Lykins lead the team in nearly every category. Jacoby is averaging 13.6 points per game. Lykins leads the team with 7.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 5.0 steals per games after 10 games. Royal is 6-4 and begins play in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions against Arroyo Grande on Monday.

10. Burroughs of Burbank – Burroughs is undefeated at 5-0 and won the Valencia High-Five Classic. The Burroughs girls beat Royal, 59-47, in the championship game of the tournament. Senior guard Lisa Elsenbach leads Burrough with 19.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game. Senior guard Justice Shank is averaging 3.2 steals per game.

Mark your calendar:

Dec. 18-21 -- Burroughs basketball tournament: Canyon opened with a 77-31 win over Hoover in the first game of the tournament. Adriana Dent and Tiffini Stone each scored 16 points for Canyon.

Dec. 20-23 – Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions: Agoura opens the tournament against Mira Costa. Buena is scheduled to play Cathedral City from San Diego in the first round. Royal takes on Arroyo Grande in the opening round.

Dec. 21 – Bellarmine-Jefferson at Harvard-Westlake: The two teams met last year in the second round of the CIF Division 4 State Championship tournament. Harvard-Westlake won by two points en route to the state championship.

Dec. 27-31 -- Beverly Hills West Coast Holiday Festival: Harvard-Westlake, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Ventura are in the 32-team tournament.

Dec. 27-30 – Oaks Christian Holiday Hardwood Invitational: Oaks Christian hosts the tournament that includes Agoura, Woodland Hills Taft and Sierra Canyon.

Buena's Nikko Slife lets little stand in his way

November, 17, 2010

VENTURA -- For those who haven’t had the opportunity to see Nikko Slife in action on the football field, fear not. He’s still young, a sophomore at Buena High, seemingly with a bright future ahead. There’s plenty of time to check out one of his games.

Understand this beforehand though, Slife tends to leave most spectators in awe after they catch a glimpse of him on the gridiron. The 15-year old has been known to do more with one arm than most his peers are capable of accomplishing with two.

To clarify, Slife was born with a portion of his left arm missing just below the elbow. With the aid of a prosthesis and a pair of weight-lifting attachments, he was able to build some much-needed strength this season and emerge as a consistent contributor on number of different levels for the Bulldogs.

Sean Ceglinsky/Special to ESPNLA.com
Nikko Slife hopes to be a contributor to next season's Buena varsity team.

“We don’t look at Nikko like he’s someone with a disability, he is a football player in our eyes,’’ Buena coach Cliff Farrar said. “The neat thing about him is, he’s been able to overcome an adversity that some of us wouldn’t be willing to try and move on from.

“I’ve been coaching for a long time and I haven’t seen many players with his kind of passion for the game. It‘s unique, it's a gift. Nikko is an inspiration. He wants to play, you can see he has the desire. He’s going to get a chance to make a difference for us down the road.’’

Over the past couple months, Slife’s talents were put to good use by the Bulldogs' coaching staff.

For one, he was a standout on the junior varsity team. And from time to time, when an extra body was needed to help run the scout team, Slife’s number was called. Sacrificing his time, and body, for the betterment of the program was never a problem.

In fact, had Buena played a bit better during the regular season and qualified for the Southern Section Western Division playoffs, beginning this week, there was a good possibility Slife would have been rewarded for his efforts and made his varsity debut.

Sean Ceglinskly/Special to ESPNLA.com
Ventura Buena sophomore Nikko Slife was born without part of his left arm but hasn't let that stop him from being a football player.

(Read full post)

The Agoura girls basketball team earned the No. 4 seed in the CIF Division III state championships despite losing the championship game of the Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs to Inglewood.

“We’re definitely excited about the seed,” said Agoura coach Steve Scifres. “We get a home game. That’s something to be excited about.”

The loss to Inglewood was the first of the season for Agoura. Scifres said his players took the loss pretty hard, but his team is healthy and preparing for the state tournament.

“The only injuries are mental,” Scifres said. “We’ll start to repair those on Monday.”

Agoura (29-1) will play Clovis North (20-9) in the first round of the Division III state championships on Tuesday night.

When asked what he knew about Clovis North, Scifres said, “I don’t know anything. I’m trying to get some film. That’s part of the intrigue of the playoffs.”

Santa Margarita (23-6) earned the No. 1 seed in the Southern California bracket and will play Monroe of North Hills (23-8) in the first round.

Birmingham, the CIF City Section Division 3 champions, is home against Buena in the first round of the Division III state championships.

Birmingham (18-9) beat Monroe in the championship game of the City Section Division 3 playoffs.

Buena (21-9) lost to Agoura in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs.

Frontier of Bakersfield (23-8), from the Central Section, opens on the road against Muir (21-8).