Los Angeles Preps: Chass Bryan

LV Lutheran holds off Oaks Christian

February, 21, 2012
WESTLAKE VILLAGE – Injury or not, there was no way of keeping Eric Cooper Jr. on the bench for Tuesday night's Southern Section playoff game. The junior guard from La Verne Lutheran understood the importance of his presence out on the floor for his teammates.

Despite a troublesome finger on his shooting hand, Cooper Jr. logged major minutes for the Trojans and was an all-important steadying presence down the stretch as they avoided an upset with a 60-58 victory over host Oaks Christian in a Division 4AA quarterfinal game.

“At this stage of the game, you have to stick it out and fight through some things in order to get the job done,'' Cooper Jr. said. “Nothing is going to keep me out of the lineup. I just taped up my finger, went out there and did my thing. It's the playoffs, that's what you do.''

The Lions (22-6) had a chance to win the game. Luckily for La Verne Lutheran (22-6), Chass Bryan's 3-pointer hit off the back iron just before the buzzer sounded.

If not for Cooper Jr., the Trojans might have been in trouble. Starting point guard Brian Beard picked up three fouls in the first five minutes and was forced to the sidelines. The Arizona-bound Cooper Jr. finished with six points, four rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes.

“Eric might need to have surgery,'' said his father and Trojans coach Eric Cooper Sr. “I think he has a dislocated right index finger, his shooting hand, and a possible break too. We're going to see the doctor on Monday. He says his discomfort is at an eight on a scale to 10. I don't think so. He would not be able to play. Still, we're trying to be cautious about things.''

Cooper Jr. had help along the way, of course. Grant Jerrett scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the first half as La Verne Lutheran rallied from eight-point deficit. The 6-foot-10 senior post and Arizona commit also contested Bryan's potential game-winner.

Bryan kept the Lions close and finished with 18 points.

His teammate, Michael Roletti, nearly played the role of spoiler. He made four three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone and ended up with 18 points of his own.

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

L.A. North: Five playoff games to watch

February, 20, 2012
Bishop Montgomery (23-4) vs. Crespi (22-6): The Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs are filled with interesting matchups this week. Third-seeded Bishop Montgomery travels to play sixth-seeded Crespi in the quarterfinals Tuesday night. Crespi stumbled at the end of the Mission League season, falling from first place to third place and going 2-5 in the final seven games of league. But Crespi has won its first two playoff games and is coming off a 62-56 win over Sierra Canyon on Friday night. The return of Michael Milligan Jr., who missed three games with a concussion, has helped the Crespi cause. He scored a team-high 21 points against Sierra Canyon in the second round. Bishop Montrgomery, meanwhile, has won five games in a row, but narrowly escaped with a one-point win over Morningside in the second round. Bishop Montgomery won, 55-54, after Larry Taylor III hit a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining in the game. Don’t expect a lot of points in this one. Strong defense will be preached throughout the game.

Harvard-Westlake (20-9) vs. Serra (26-2): The Wolverines have a chance to knock off the top-seeded team in the Division 4AA playoffs. Their win over JSerra Catholic in the second round was a little too close for comfort though. Harvard-Westlake won, 53-49, but nearly blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. JSerra outscored Harvard-Westlake, 19-7, in the final period, but the Wolverines held on to advance. Another area of concern is that only four players scored for Harvard-Westlake against JSerra. The big three for Harvard-Westlake, Derick Newton, Zena Edosomwan and Josh Hearlihy combined to score 49 of their team’s 53 points. Serra has won 11 games in a row and held its first two playoffs opponents to 30 points or less. Playoff opponents are scoring an average of 27.5 points per game against Serra. Edosomwan can score 27 points by himself. He will need significant help if Harvard-Westlake is going to pull off the upset.

Oaks Christian (22-5) vs. La Verne Lutheran (21-6): The Lions have won seven of their past eight games, including a 63-57 win over Chaminade in the second round of the Division 4AA playoffs. They have a great shot at knocking out La Verne Lutheran, the second-seeded team in the playoffs. Not only is Oaks Christian on a hot streak, but La Verne Lutheran might not have one of its best players for the game Tuesday night. Eric Cooper Jr., the team’s second leading scorer at 16.2 points per game and top 3-point shooter, has a broken finger. He might not play in the game against Oaks Christian. Playing without Cooper hasn’t affected the Lutheran offensive output that much. The team is averaging 70 points per game in the playoffs. Oaks Christian has a balanced offensive attack led by Chass Bryan’s 15.3 points per game.

Mater Dei (25-2) vs. Palmdale (20-6): It’s a tall order, but Palmdale can shake up the Division 1AA playoffs with a win over top-seeded and national power Mater Dei in the second round. The teams from the Golden League have proven to be a force in the Division 1AA playoffs so far. Quartz Hill eliminated fifth-seeded Oxnard and Knight ousted 15th-seeded Los Alamitos in the first round. Palmdale, the first-place team from the Golden League, has won 12 games in a row and might surprise Mater Dei. Senior Ryan Wright leads Palmdale with 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. However, Palmdale is on the road and Mater Dei has a 12-game winning streak of its own against significantly tougher competition. The Monarchs haven’t lost since Jan. 7 to Gill St. Bernard from New Jersey. It’s a longshot for Palmdale, but that’s why they play the games.

Saugus (19-9) vs. Norco (15-13): Megan Dawe scored 24 points in her team’s 57-29 win over Claremont in the first round of the Southern Section Division 2A playoffs. She needs four more points to set the school record for scoring. Gabby Conn holds the Saugus record with 1,267 points over her high school career at Saugus. Dawe, who’s headed to New York University for college, already has the single-season scoring record at Saugus with 562 points. Seventh-seeded Saugus might have a couple of more games left in its season as well. The Centurions have won three games in a row and 10 of their past 11. Norco is 4-5 in its past nine games, but beat Citrus Hill, 50-42, in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs.

Montclair defends title at Atascadero tournament

December, 30, 2011
The Montclair boys' basketball team continued its record start to the season Thursday with a 60-57 victory in the championship game of the Atascadero tournament.

For the second consecutive season, the Cavaliers (13-0) beat the tournament hosts by three points in the final.

Atascadero guard Rob Berwick had a good look at the basket with about 10 seconds remaining, but his three-point attempt went off the rim, according to this report in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Montclair senior guard Devyn Sampson scored a season-high 24 points and contributed 13 rebounds en route to winning tournament MVP honors. Back-court mate Kevin Fregoso had 12 points and seven assists and was named to the all-tournament first team.

At the Holiday Hardwood Classic at Oaks Christian HS:

Behind a career-high 18 points from senior guard Dominique Walker, the Etiwanda boys’ basketball team advanced to tonight’s championship game in Westlake Village.

The Eagles (13-1) will meet tournament host Oaks Christian at 8:30 p.m.

Etiwanda took a 14-7 lead after the opening quarter against Santa Monica in the semifinals, stretched it to 11 by the end of three and ultimately advanced with a 56-52 victory. Etiwanda sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin contributed 12 points, only the third time this season has hasn’t led the team in scoring.

Oaks Christian (10-2) is led by senior point guard Chass Bryan (16.3 ppg) and junior guard Jackson Miller (11.7), setting the stage for what should be an interesting back-court matchup.

(Read full post)

Calabasas wins Palm Springs Winter Classsic

December, 24, 2011
The Calabasas boys basketball team is off to a hot start. Calabasas won the Palm Springs Winter Classic, downing host Palm Springs, 57-53, in the championship game.

Sophomore Jeremy Lieberman scored 18 points and earned tournament MVP. Junior Alex Monsegue was selected to the all-tournament team.

Joshua Cohan scored 12 points in the championship game for Calabasas (10-0).

In the Maui Tournament in Hawaii, Mission Viejo beat Oaks Christian, 78-72, in the championship game. Chass Bryan scored 16 points and Tyler Harris scored 12 for Oaks Christian (7-2).

Calabasas plays Oaks Christian in the first round of the Oaks Christian basketball tournament on Tuesday.

Crespi wins SFV basketball tourney

December, 22, 2011
The Crespi and Alemany boys' basketball teams met in the championship game of the San Fernando Valley Invitational for the second year in a row. For the second year in a row, Crespi won the tournament.

Crespi beat its Mission League rival, 64-59, behind clutch free throws and 18 points from Michael Avery. He was a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line and made eight free throws in the fourth quarter.

Crespi became the first team to win the San Fernando Invitational twice in a row in the seven-year history of the tournament.

Avery was selected to the all-tournament team. London Perrantes was tournament MVP and scored 17 points in the championship game.

In the Maui Tournament in Hawaii, Oaks Christian advanced to the semifinals with a 76-66 win over Redondo. Chass Bryan had another big game with 29 points.

In the National Prep Classic in Santa Maria, Providence of Burbank is in the semifinals of the Classic Division after a 68-41 win over Nipomo. Freshman Marcus LoVett continues to score at will, pouring in 28 points. He has 119 points, averaging 39.6 points per game, in the tournament. He scored 57 points against St. Joseph in the first round.

Taft wins Mission Prep tourney

December, 21, 2011
The Woodland Hills Taft boys basketball team won the Mission Prep tournament in San Luis Obispo, defeating La Costa Canyon, 58-52, in the championship game.

Brandon Perry was selected as tournament MVP.

Campbell Hall won the consolation final, 71-60, over San Luis Obispo. Freshman Aaron Holiday scored 31 points and Cole Huff had a double-double with 28 points and 17 rebounds for Campbell Hall.

In the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, Oaks Christian beat Mount Si from Washington, 75-47, and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament.

Chass Bryan had 12 points and five assists for Oaks Christian. The Lions will play Redondo in the semifinals.

In the National Prep Classic, freshman Marcus LoVett scored 34 points in Providence of Burbank's 83-78 overtime win over Fremont of Los Angeles. LoVett hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

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.

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)

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)

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.

Plenty of hoop-la surrounding Holiday Hardwood Invitational

December, 26, 2010
For those high school boys’ basketball fans out there, avid and recreational alike, if you are anywhere near Ventura County on Monday and have a little extra free time on your hands, we suggest heading over to Westlake Village Oaks Christian High to check out the Holiday Hardwood Invitational.

The tournament is loaded with some of the Southland’s top teams and most talented players around. Games begin bright and early in the morning and run throughout the better part of the day and evening. Chances are, the action taking place will be worth the price of admission -- and then some.

Here is an inside look at what to expect, and from who, on Monday. And if you can’t make it, no problem, the tournament resumes play on Tuesday and culminates with the title game on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m.

Valencia vs. De La Salle @ 10:30 a.m.: Sure, the tipoff is first thing. Being first in line at the door figures has its advantages given the fact that Lonnie Jackson will be uniform for the Vikings. The 6-foot-3 senior, a Boston College commit, is one of the top shooting guards on the West Coast and he’s more than capable of taking over an entire game when called upon to do so for Valencia.

Pasadena vs. Alemany @ noon: Here's a name you might have heard before, Steven Adams. After all, the 6-8 and 250-plus pound senior post player from Pasadena has been on the radar of college coaches since his days as a wide-eyed freshman. Injuries, however, have sidelined him more than a few times. Fully healthy these days, Adams is a force to be reckoned with once again.

Etiwanda vs. La Jolla Country Day @ 1:30 p.m.: Without a doubt, Byron Wesley is one of Southern California’s premier players. Not surprisingly, Etiwanda relies heavily on the 6-5 senior small forward, who does a little bit of everything, most of it extremely well. USC will happy once he arrives on campus next year.

Inglewood vs. Rancho Verde @ 3 p.m.: While this game doesn’t figure any high-profile prospects, it figures to be one of the more competitive match-ups on the first day. Case in point, Inglewood has played one of the toughest nonleague schedules around and still boasts an 8-2 record. A loss earlier this month is the only thing that separates the Mustangs (9-1) from an unblemished record.

Price vs. Palisades @ 4:30 p.m.: No offense to Wesley, but Price’s Norvel Pelle is the marquee name at this tournament and the Knights figure to go as far as the 6-10 senior center will take them. He’s a double-double waiting to happen and was recruited by more than a few of the nation’s powerhouse programs before ultimately deciding to play for former UCLA coach Steve Lavin at St. John’s.

Colony vs. Sacramento @ 6 p.m.: Straight from the state’s capital, Josiah Turner is truly something special. The 6-3 senior point guard ranks among the country’s top players at his position, with Marquis Teague from Indianapolis Pike (IN) serving as his only legit competition for floor general bragging rights. Colony will have its share of trouble finding a way to contain the Arizona-bound Turner.

Oaks Christian vs. Upland @ 7:30 p.m.: Generously listed at 5-10, Chass Bryan might be a tad bit undersized. Make no mistake though, the Oaks Christian junior isn’t afraid to take the ball inside and mix it up against much bigger players. In fact, that type of fearlessness will be key if the tournament hosts hope to surprise opponents and make an improbable run toward the championship game.

Loyola vs. Canyon Springs @ 9 p.m.: Far be it from us to put any added pressure on a freshman, but Loyola’s Parker Cartwright appears to have a rather bright future ahead of him. That bodes well for the Cubs, of course, who rarely hesitate putting the ball in the hands of the 5-10 youngster when it matters most.