Los Angeles Preps: Canyon Springs

France leads South Hills with arm and bat

May, 17, 2012
Ty FranceBlair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comTy France pitched a complete game and knoncked in three runs for South Hills on Thursday.

WEST COVINA -- An electric right arm. A compact swing. A keenness for high-stress situations.

Senior Ty France of South Hills put all of his skills on display Thursday afternoon, leading the Huskies to a 4-0 victory against visiting Upland in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs. France, a San Diego State signee, struck out 11 in a complete-game effort and also drove in three runs.

By the way France looked, you'd never guess it was only his second start of the season.

"I didn't expect him to go seven innings and shut them out. It's just a great effort on his part," South Hills head coach Kevin Smith said. "He's a bulldog. I wish I had 15 of him."

France has been on varsity for four years, experiencing sudden success as a freshman on a South Hills squad that captured the section title. He's a known commodity in the San Gabriel Valley, a slick-fielding shortstop who doubles as his team's closer. Smith, though, wanted his best curveball thrower on the mound against an Upland lineup that scored 22 runs in the wild-card round earlier in the week.

"I love pitching," France said. "I love getting out there and controlling the game."

France did that and more, scattering six hits and walking only two, one of them intentional. He helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of two-out RBI singles, putting South Hills (18-7) up early. UCLA signee Daniel Robertson had half of Upland's hits in his final high school game.

"Getting those two early runs helped a lot," France said.

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I.E: Final boys basketball top 10

March, 26, 2012
1. Etiwanda, 30-3: The Eagles finished with their third 30-win season in the last seven and should be in good shape for the next couple years with the return of sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who averaged a team-high 17.8 points. Etiwanda was taken out by Long Beach Poly in the Division 1AA semifinals for the second straight season, then fell to Loyola in a Southern California Regional second rounder.

2. Eisenhower, 20-8: The Eagles established their run-and-gun identity as the season moved along, and had one of the top players in the I.E. to facilitate that style in shooting guard Marvelle Harris, whose play helped him earn a scholarship from Fresno State in the process. Eisenhower’s season ended with a close loss to Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals.

3. Elsinore, 28-5: The Tigers came up short of their first section final appearance since 1974, losing by nine points to Mayfair in the Division 2A semifinals. They came back to beat Thousand Oaks in the program’s first SoCal Regional appearance before losing to Inglewood in the second round of Division 2. E.J. Twyman played up to expectations entering his senior year, averaging 26.9 points.

4. Colony, 22-10: Two straight losses to end the season didn’t dampen an otherwise strong run by the Titans. Their season was highlighted by a 73-71 victory against second-seeded Compton in a Division 2A quarterfinal. Colony then lost a back-and-forth game against Righetti to prevent the program from advancing to the championship game for the second time in four seasons.

5. Murrieta Valley, 25-3: Righetti took out the third-seeded Nighthawks the round before they beat Colony, ending an otherwise strong season. They won three tournaments prior to Southwestern League play, then defended that title. Darius Butler scored in double figures in every game en route to averaging a team-high 19.6 points, while Reid Shackelford proved to be one of the I.E.’s most improved players, averaging 16.8.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

February, 5, 2012
Most of the top teams in the I.E. held their ground last week, with several clinching outright league titles, or at least a share, heading into the final week of the regular season.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 24-1: Sam Flemming scored with 15 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles to a 70-69 victory Tuesday at Upland, keeping them perfect in Baseline League play. Etiwanda came back to win its 21ststraight game Friday night and clinch the outright league title at Los Osos. Next: Tuesday @ Alta Loma.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 16-7: The Eagles clinched their third consecutive outright Citrus Belt League title with victories last week against visiting A.B. Miller (79-49) and at Redlands East Valley (61-34). Eisenhower wasn’t able to keep up with Fairfax on Saturday afternoon at the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei and lost, 73-67. Next: Wednesday @ Redlands.

3. (4) Elsinore, 22-3: The Tigers are well on their way to a fourth straight Sunbelt League title after defeating Temescal Canyon (64-57) and Perris (57-55) last week. Elsinore has won 29 consecutive league games. Next: Wednesday @ Heritage.

4. (5) Murrieta Valley, 21-2: The Nighthawks maintained their one-game lead on Vista Murrieta in the Southwestern League with wins last week at Great Oak (46-35) and Murrieta Mesa (60-39). Reid Shackelford sank five of seven three-pointers against Murrieta Mesa. Next: Tuesday vs. Vista Murrieta.

5. (3) J.W. North, 19-5: Last week began with another hiccup in Big VIII League play, an 11-point loss at Riverside Poly, but the Huskies came back with wins against visiting Roosevelt (64-49) and at Corona Santiago (53-48) to clinch at least a share of the league title with two games remaining. Next: Monday @ Riverside King.

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League openers: Tonight – La Quinta @ Palm Springs; Xavier Prep @ Cathedral City; Indio # Palm Desert. Friday – Coachella Valley @ Palm Desert.

Last year’s finish: Palm Springs (12-0); Palm Desert (10-2); La Quinta (7-5); Indio (7-5); Cathedral City (3-9); Xavier Prep (3-9); Coachella Valley (0-12).

Players to watch: Quintin Taylor (Palm Springs), 6-2, Jr., G; Nick King (Palm Springs), 6-1, Sr., G; Xavier Thomas (Indio), 6-4, Sr., F; Abram Montoya (Indio), 6-2, Sr., G; Jonathan Serven (Palm Desert); 6-3, Sr., G; Robert Romero (Palm Desert), 6-5, Sr., F; Mike Releford (Cathedral City), 5-10, Sr., G; Taylor Pope (La Quinta), 6-0, Sr., G; Nathan Hill (La Quinta), 6-4, Jr., G; Creighton Chaney (Xavier Prep), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Palm Springs, Indio, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Cathedral City, Xavier Prep, Coachella Valley.


League openers: Tonight – Arlington @ Moreno Valley; La Sierra @ Ramona; Canyon Springs @ Rancho Verde; Vista del Lago @ Valley View.

Last year’s finish: Rancho Verde (11-3); Canyon Springs (11-3); Arlington (8-6); Ramona (8-6); Valley View (7-7); Vista del Lago (5-9); La Sierra (3-11); Moreno Valley (3-11).

Players to watch: Jordan Grace (Rancho Verde), 6-2, Sr., G; Kendall Schmidt (Rancho Verde), 6-0, Sr., G; Lance Jones (Rancho Verde), 6-3, Jr., F; Rajshah Head (Canyon Springs), 6-0, Sr., G; Joseph Esthers (Valley View), 5-10, Sr., G; Devonte Klines (Valley View), 5-11, So., G; Stephen Scroggins (Moreno Valley), 5-11, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Rancho Verde, Canyon Springs, Valley View, Arlington, Vista del Lago, Ramona, La Sierra, Moreno Valley.


League openers: Tonight – San Bernardino @ Rialto, Arroyo Valley @ Colton, Cajon @ Pacific. Saturday – Rialto @ Carter. Monday – Arroyo Valley @ San Bernardino.

Last year’s finish: San Bernardino (14-0); Cajon (11-3); Rialto (9-5); Arroyo Valley (9-5); Colton (5-9); San Gorgonio (4-10); Carter (3-11); Pacific (1-13).

Players to watch: Khleem Perkins (San Bernardino), 6-3, Jr., G; Javone Rabon (San Bernardino), 6-4, Sr., F; Jamie Jenkins (San Bernardino), 5-8, Sr., G; Richie Ragoo (Colton), 5-11, Sr., G; Devin Jones (Cajon), 6-0, Sr., G; Stephen Marshall (Arroyo Valley), Sr., G; Antonio Clemmons (Pacific), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: San Bernardino, Cajon, Arroyo Valley, Rialto, Colton, Pacific, San Gorgonio, Carter.

Next up: Big VIII, Mojave River and Mt. Baldy leagues (open league play Wednesday).

I.E.: A closer look at the Inland Valley League

August, 13, 2011

Last season’s results: Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (13-1, 7-0); Riverside Arlington (9-3, 6-1); Moreno Valley Valley View (6-5, 5-2); Riverside La Sierra (6-5, 4-3); Moreno Valley (3-7, 3-4); Moreno Valley Vista del Lago (4-6, 2-5); Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (2-8, 1-6); Ramona (0-10, 0-7).

Players to watch: As they say at Rancho Verde, the Mustangs don’t rebuild, they reload. They showed their skill in June during a seven-on-seven passing tournament at UCLA, finishing 8-0 behind senior quarterback Carlos Hernandez. He’ll have a pair of solid receivers to look to in senior Breon Redman, a returning first-team all leaguer, and junior Demorea Stringfellow, who already has a scholarship offer from UCLA. Kevin Shelton is a potential Division 1 recruit on the offensive line and he’ll be re-joined by all-leaguer Robert Rodriguez. The defense should be well anchored by all-Central Division linebacker Blair Brown and defensive backs DeVonte Collier and Leroy Holt. Rancho Verde should face some stiff competition from La Sierra, which boasts the league’s best front seven on defense. A.J. Fanene had a league-leading 18 sacks last season, ninth-most in the Southern Section, and piqued the interest of USC during spring combines. Noel Quiones led the IVL with 156 tackles, including seven sacks, and fellow linebacker Tim Mummert also produced seven sacks. Offensively, the Eagles will be directed by junior quarterback Johnny Salazar, a returning starter. Valley View features the league’s top returning running back. Michael Harrison racked up 1,120 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in the final five regular-season games. The defense will be led by all-league linebacker Michael Khoury. Moreno Valley will also likely rely on its running game. Ieremia Talia ran for 971 yards last season, averaging 7.3 yards a carry en route to earning all-league honors. Canyon Springs should also improve with the return of its top two receivers, senior Jeff Hernandez and junior Kendrick Newburn. Arlington is expected to face a rebuilding year this season but the Lions have a strong pass defender in senior Alex Garcia, a first-team all-league selection.

Projected order of finish: Rancho Verde, La Sierra, Valley View, Arlington, Canyon Springs, Vista del Lago, Moreno Valley, Ramona.

Key games: Sept. 2 – Perris Citrus Hill vs. Canyon Springs @ Moreno Valley; Sept. 16 – Valley View vs. Riverside Patriot @ Riverside Rubidoux HS, Moreno Valley @ Palm Springs; Sept. 23 – Rancho Verde @ Romoland Heritage, Arlington @ La Quinta; Sept. 30 – Arlington vs. Valley View @ Ramona; Oct. 7 – Rancho Verde @ Valley View; Oct. 14 – Rancho Verde vs. La Sierra @ Riverside Norte Vista HS; Oct. 21 – La Sierra @ Valley View; Nov. 11 – Arlington @ Rancho Verde.

Alumni in the NFL: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Rancho Verde ’08); D’Aundre Reed, Minnesota Vikings (Rancho Verde ‘06); Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers (Rancho Verde ’05); Derrick Ward, Houston Texans (Valley View ’98).

Fast fact: Rancho Verde has won 31 consecutive regular-season games but that success hasn’t carried into the postseason. The Mustangs did not advance past the semifinals in 2008 and 2009, and were upset by Colton in the Central Division finals last season, despite entering the playoffs as the top-seeded team in the division.

On the clock: Mt. Baldy League.

Inland Empire: Spotlight on baseball league races

May, 10, 2011
As the final week of the regular season winds down, a number of league titles in the I.E. are still up for grabs. Here's a look at the major races still left to be settled.


Glendora (10-3), Wed. @ Upland, Fri. vs. Upland

Los Osos (9-4), Wed. @ Rancho Cucamonga, Fri. vs. Rancho Cucamonga.

*Glendora owns tiebreaker vs. Los Osos


J.W. North (9-3), Tues. vs. Santiago, Thurs. vs. King

King (9-3), Tues. vs. Roosevelt, Thurs @ North

Santiago (7-5), Tues. @ North, Thurs. vs. Poly

Norco (7-5), Tues. vs. Poly, Thurs. @ Corona

*North won first meeting vs. King, 3-0


Redlands (10-3), Tues. vs. Fontana, Thurs. @ Fontana

Yucaipa (9-4), Tues. @ Eisenhower, Thurs. vs. Eisenhower

Redlands East Valley (8-5), Tues. vs. Miller, Thurs. @ Miller

*Redlands owns tiebreaker vs. Yucaipa


Palm Desert (9-1), Tues. vs. Palm Springs, Thurs. @ Palm Springs

Indio (8-2), Tues. vs. La Quinta, Thurs. @ La Quinta

La Quinta (8-2), Tues. @ Indio, Thurs. vs. Indio

*Palm Desert’s only league loss vs. Indio


Canyon Springs (10-3), Wed. @ Arlington

Vista del Lago (10-3), Wed. vs. La Sierra

La Sierra (9-4), Wed. @ Vista del Lago

*Canyon Springs owns tiebreaker vs. Vista del Lago


Hemet (11-2), Wed. @ Tahquitz, Fri vs. Tahquitz

Tahquitz (11-2), Wed. vs. Hemet, Fri. @ Hemet

*Hemet won first meeting vs. Tahquitz, 6-2


Citrus Valley (12-1), Wed. @ at Notre Dame, Thurs. @ Notre Dame

Notre Dame (10-3), Wed. vs. Notre Dame, Thurs. vs. Notre Dame

*Citrus Valley won first meeting vs. Notre Dame, 3-2


Colony (9-2), Wed. vs. Ontario

Chino (9-2), Wed. @ Don Lugo

Don Lugo (8-3), Wed. vs. Chino

*Colony owns tiebreaker vs. Chino


Colton (12-1), Wed. vs. San Gorgonio

Rialto (11-2), Wed. vs. Pacific

San Gorgonio (10-2), Wed. @ Colton, Friday @ Pacific

*Colton and Rialto split season series


Chino Hills (10-3), Tues. @ Ayala, Thurs. vs. Ayala

South Hills (10-3), Tues. vs. Charter Oak, Thurs. @ Charter Oak

Damien (8-5), Tues. @ Claremont, Thurs. vs. Claremont

*Chino Hills owns tiebreaker vs. South Hills


Temescal Canyon (10-3), Tues. vs. Lakeside, Thurs. @ Lakeside

Paloma Valley (8-5), Tues. vs. Elsinore, Thurs. @ Elsinore

Lakeside (7-6), Tues. @ Temescal Canyon, Thurs. vs. Temescal Canyon

Heritage (7-6), Tues. vs. Perris, Thurs. @ Perris

*Paloma Valley owns tiebreaker vs. Temescal Canyon


Kaiser (10-3), Tues. vs. Summit, Thurs. @ Bloomington

Summit (8-5), Tues. @ Kaiser, Thurs. @ Patriot

Patriot (7-6), Tues. vs. Jurupa Valley, Thurs. vs. Summit

Bloomington (7-6), Tues @ Norte Vista, Thurs. vs. Kaiser

*Kaiser and Summit split previous two meetings

Inland Empire and Orange County: Canyon Springs 63, Brea Olinda  53

March, 12, 2011
BREA – Biggest win ever.

That was the only proper description of Canyon Springs’ decisive 63-53 victory Saturday over Brea Olinda, the No. 3 ranked girls team in the nation, in the semifinals of the Southern California Regional Championships.

It wasn’t even the fact that third-seeded Canyon Springs won, but the manner in which they did it, and where they did it.

The Cougars (30-3) went into the Brea gym and outplayed the second-seeded Ladycats (31-2), who have won nine state championships. They outplayed Brea in every facet.

Just as impressively, teams don’t win at Brea. It just doesn't happen. But this one wasn’t even close. Canyon Springs led by 17 points at one point in the fourth quarter.

Junior Jasmine Johnson scored 20 points. Freshman Cheyenne Greenhouse scored 17, more than twice her average. And Nebraska-bound Tear’a Laudermill scored 15 but just as important controlled the game against Brea, which until last week’s loss to second-ranked Mater Dei had been the No. 1 team in the nation.

Under Laudermill's guidance, the Cougars committed only nine turnovers. Brea committed 16 with some of its worst passing of the season.

Even though Canyon Springs won a Southern Section title in 2005 during the Jennifer Risper era, the victory Saturday far exceeded it. The Cougars avenged a 55-36 loss in the section semifinals, a game in which coach Gail Hale thought her team was overpowered by the arena environment.

This time, though, they simply overpowered Brea.

“We looked at films and said if you start doing this stuff right, you got this game,” Hale said.

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Inland Empire and Orange County: Brea Olinda vs. Canyon Springs

March, 12, 2011
Southern California Regional Semifinals
Division I Girls
Canyon Springs (30-3) at Brea Olinda (31-1), 7 p.m.

Don't look ahead: Second-seeded Brea Olinda was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time it was beaten by Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship. A victory here probably sets up a rematch. Looking ahead to Mater Dei and not focusing on third-seeded Canyon Springs could spoil everything.

Who will be the star: Despite its athletes and the presence of shot-blocker Sophie Ederaine (6-2), who is averaging 7.2 per game, Canyon Springs can't focus on any one offensive threat. Brea can get double-figure scoring from every position on the floor, and they're deep. It doesn't stop with UCLA-bound Justine Hartman (11.5 points). Jeanier Olukemi (12.5), Alexis Perry (10.2) and Keitra Wallace (10.8) are all capable of putting away an opponent. A junk defense doesn't stand much chance of beating the Ladycats.

Stepping up: In addition to Nebraska-bound Tear'a Laudermill (16.9 points), Jasmine Johnson (13.2) and Ederaine (11.6 points), someone in the Canyon Springs lineup is going to have to make a play or two on offense or defense or both.

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ANAHEIM -- That No. 1 tag hanging on Brea Olinda is sure attractive to other girls' basketball teams.

The run through the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs has been anything but easy for the nation's top-ranked team. There was a two-point victory in the quarterfinals, and they met more fierce resistance on Tuesday at Anaheim Arena when they had to make a third-quarter break that finally yielded a 55-36 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Moreno Valley Canyon Springs.

The score belied the battle, and carrying the No. 1 banner for the better part of the year has not been easy on Orange County's most prolific program.

"It's been tougher than I thought," said Brea coach Jeff Sink, who took over the program following the 1993-94 season in which it went undefeated and was named mythical national champion. "It's an onerous responsibility because everyone brings their best game against you, and we've been flat the last couple of weeks.

"I'm amazed by the responsibility of being No. 1."

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Inland Empire: Scores and more from boys basketball playoffs

February, 17, 2011
Looking back on Wednesday's first-round games in the Southern Section boys’ basketball playoffs, the brackets were full of winners and losers and a few Inland Empire teams that created sub-categories. Here's a quick list.

Poorest showing by a league – The Southwestern League lost three of five games Wednesday night but the biggest news came from one of the victories. Murrieta Valley, seeded fifth in Division 1AA, survived on a banked-in three-pointer at the overtime buzzer to defeat visiting Corona, 50-48. The Nighthawks’ best player, Justin Gudger, injured his ankle late in the first quarter and did not return. Great Oak, Chaparral and Vista Murrieta lost their playoff openers. Temecula Valley advanced in Division 2AA.

Poorest showing by a team(s) – This is stretching the boundaries a bit but since Glendora is the only non-I.E. team in the Baseline League, the collapse of the Tartans deserves mention here. Glendora, seeded fourth in Division 2A, lost in overtime, 72-65, against Eastside High of Lancaster, which tied for third in the mighty Golden League. Closer to home, sixth-seeded San Bernardino was also knocked out sooner than expected in Division 2A, coming up short against visiting Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, 62-54. The Cardinals had just finished celebrating their first league title in 18 years, while Mira Costa was coming off five consecutive losses.

Thanks for nothing award – Moreno Valley Canyon Springs scored a huge upset against Moreno Valley Rancho Verde to earn a share of the Inland Valley League title. The Southern Section didn’t do the Cougars any favors, matching them against fourth-seeded Compton in Division 2AA. Despite hosting the game, Canyon Springs was no match for the Dons and lost, 64-50, and the IVL went 1-3. In Division 3A, Palm Desert was seeded seventh but drew visiting Lakewood Artesia, the once-proud basketball factory that traditionally plays it best basketball this time of year. You guessed it, Artesia won, 47-45.

Here’s the full roundup of games from the top six divisions that involve I.E. teams:

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Inland Empire: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 1, 2011
Some losses are more understandable than others. Etiwanda lost to a highly ranked opponent at a Saturday night showcase, while Moreno Valley Rancho Verde fell to a familiar foe from the Inland Valley League. The latter is much less acceptable. Victorville Silverado lost its rematch against Victorville Victor Valley, keeping both out of the top 10, while Fontana Summit and Redlands East Valley earned second chances to prove they belong.

1. Etiwanda, 22-1 (1) – The Eagles let one get away Saturday night against Los Angeles Loyola and lost, 70-64, at Fairfax High in L.A. No shame in losing to the Lions, however, they came into the game ranked No. 2 in Division 1A and looking to avenge a loss to Etiwanda in late December. Next up: Tonight at Glendora, 6:30 p.m.

2. Corona Centennial, 18-3 (2) – Gelaun Wheelwright had a week to remember. The Weber State-bound guard combined for 51 points in Big VIII League road victories against Riverside King and Riverside Poly, making 20 of 28 field-goal attempts, including seven of 13 from beyond the three-point stripe. Next up: Tonight vs. Riverside North at Centennial, 7:30 p.m.

3. Murrieta Valley, 19-3 (3) – The Nighthawks didn’t blink Wednesday while taking down Temecula Chaparral, the defending Southwestern League champion. Justin Gudger scored 18 points and Austin Quick had 13 in the 62-43 victory. Next up: Wednesday vs. Temecula Great Oak at Murrieta Valley, 7 p.m.

4. Ontario Colony, 15-8 (5) – The Titans had a much easier time against Chino Don Lugo the second time around. After winning by just three points at Don Lugo on Jan. 5, Colony blew out the visiting Conquistadors in the second half Wednesday and won, 94-65. The Titans have won 59 consecutive Mt. Baldy League games. Next up: Wednesday vs. Chino at Colony, 6:30 p.m.

5. Rialto Eisenhower, 14-7 (6) – After losing to Richmond Salesian, the Eagles took out their frustrations on Yucaipa in the form of a 93-47 victory last Tuesday. They still haven’t earned the respect of Southern Section voters, however, who have them pegged way down at No. 11 in Division 1AA. Next up: Tonight vs. Redlands East Valley at Eisenhower, 6 p.m.

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Inland Empire: Top teams tipping off today

December, 27, 2010
This week is prime tournament time for high school boys’ basketball teams, and most of the Inland Empire’s best are either in Westlake Village or San Diego.

Over at the Holiday Hardwood Invitational at Oaks Christian High, Etiwanda will try to keep its unbeaten streak alive when it opens play today at 1:30 p.m. against La Jolla Country Day.

Moreno Valley Rancho Verde plays Inglewood at 3, Ontario Colony plays Sacramento at 6, Upland plays Oaks Christian at 7:30. and Moreno Valley Canyon Springs faces Los Angeles Loyola at 9.

Here’s a link to the 16-team bracket.

The Holiday Classic in San Diego is one of the top tournaments in the nation, and the National Division at Torrey Pines High School is stacked with great talent.

Corona Centennial, ranked second in the Inland Empire behind Etiwanda, is the only I.E. team entered in the 16-team National Division. The Huskies open play today at 10 a.m. against Oakland. Other top Southland teams entered in the National Division include Long Beach Poly, Woodland Hills Taft and Westchester.

Rialto Eisenhower is entered in the American Division at Carlsbad La Costa Canyon High School and will open today against North Las Vegas Canyon Springs at 12:40 p.m.

Over in the Senator’s Division at San Diego Cathedral Catholic High School, Murrieta Valley is scheduled to play Santa Maria Righetti at 5:25 p.m. Los Osos is also entered in the Senator’s Division.

Here's a link to all the brackets at the Holiday Classic.

Inland Empire: Todd Handley of Riverside King has some hang time

October, 6, 2010

Tom Hauck
Todd Handley of Riverside King has proved to be one of the most elusive ball carriers around.

Few athletes can claim a 44-inch vertical leap. Those that do are usually found on the basketball court, or near the high jump pit.

LeBron James reportedly has a 44-inch vertical leap, so did Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant? He comes in a bit lower at 38.

Todd Handley, a 5-foot-8 senior running back for Riverside King, hit that mark in April at the Nike combine at USC, placing him among the best leapers in the nation in SPARQ testing.

But the three-year starter is just as impressive moving horizontal. He clocked a school-record 10.98 seconds in the 100 meters during last spring’s track and field season, and went 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Nike combine.

It’s no wonder that Handley has proved to be one of the more elusive ball carriers in the Inland Empire, totaling 552 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through four games this season. As a junior, he ran for 1,343 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 10 games.

He had 206 rushing yards and a touchdown last Friday in a one-sided loss to Corona Centennial, the top-ranked team in the Inland Empire.

On Thursday night, he’ll be counted on to carry the load against visiting Corona Santiago, a team that’s ranked No. 5 in the I.E. but has shown a weakness on defense, allowing an average of 28 points a game.

Still without a scholarship offer, you can bet Handley will be giving it his all against the Sharks.

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