Los Angeles Preps: Chris Reyes

Spencer steps into big role for Price

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
5:54
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LOS ANGELES -- There was no shortage of high-profile post players in the Southland this season. The position, in fact, was seemingly the deepest it has been in recent years.

Attempting to determine who the best of the bunch was could prove to be a difficult task given the long list of candidates. A case can certainly be made for Skylar Spencer, considering the 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior from Los Angeles Price senior is the last man standing.

[+] EnlargeSkyler Spencer
Courtesy of Nick KozaSkyler Spencer has been consistent in his play and that is a big reason Price finds itself in the state title game.
While most of his highly regarded peers sit at home on Friday afternoon and wonder about what could have been, Spencer will suit up for the Knights (26-8 overall) and likely be the difference between winning and losing in the CIF state championship game against Richmond Salesian (33-2). The opening tip is at 1:30 p.m. in Sacramento at Power Balance Arena.

“I wouldn't trade Skylar for anybody out here,'' Price coach Michael Lynch said. “He's our captain, our leader on the team, we've been on his back so many times this year.''

If given the chance, many would choose Grant Jerrett from La Verne Lutheran as the premier player in the greater Los Angeles area. The senior and Arizona commit, after all, was recently named the Gatorade State Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.

North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan deserves consideration with regard to being mentioned in the same sentence as some of the Southland's best bigs. Also worth mentioning is Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January. Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede and La Verne Damien's Chris Reyes round out the well-rounded group.

Spencer can't be overlooked if winning is a criteria used in the conversation. The Knights were among the top programs in the ESPNLosAngeles Top 20 rankings this season with Spencer leading the way. Remember, Price played one of the more competitive schedules around.

“We did not back down from anyone, we'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere,'' Spencer said. “To be the best, you have to play the best. That's the way you have to think.''

(Read full post)

Bonita: Small town's overlooked team

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
10:50
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Garrett HorineBlair Angulo for ESPNLA.comGarrett Horine scored 17 points in Bonita's easy first-round playoff victory on Wednesday night.

LA VERNE -- Fans trickled into Bonita's old gym through a single door Wednesday night without much commotion. The wooden bleachers weren't filled to capacity, a steady rain maybe discouraging some from leaving the warmth of their homes.

It wasn't loud. It wasn't extravagant. It was basketball in its purest form: Crisp ball movement and suffocating man-to-man defense. Just the way Bonita coach Greg Eckler likes it.

Rather silently, seventh-seeded Bonita improved to 24-4 on the season and ran its winning streak to 15 games with a dominant 80-28 victory against Cerritos in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA boys' basketball playoffs. The Bearcats advanced to meet unseeded Brea Olinda on Friday. They don't get much publicity, and Eckler understands why: It won't happen with two-time defending state champion La Verne Lutheran a mere three blocks away. And it won't happen with two-loss Damien, located less than two miles from Bonita, stealing the city's headlines.

Greg Eckler
Blair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comBonita coach Greg Eckler has seen his team power its way to a 24-4 record this season.
But the small town's third team is pretty good, too.

"It's great that we've got a strong little basketball area," Eckler says of La Verne, a town with a population of 33,000 that is nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains some 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. "It speaks to what's going on out here. A lot of people don't talk about La Verne being a dominant city when it comes to basketball, but for a couple of years now we've had three solid teams."

Bonita, the Hacienda League champion, is fine with thriving in the shadows. Lutheran has the state's only McDonald's All-American in Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett. It has hung CIF state championship banners each of the last two seasons. Damien has Saint Mary's-bound forward Chris Reyes and a state-of-the-art gym.

Bonita, though, has scrappers and hustlers and a standout football player manning the post.

"Not one guy is a star," says senior Garrett Horine, the school's leading receiver last season. "We all share the ball and work hard."

Six players scored in double figures Wednesday night; Horine led the way with 17. The Bearcats went on a defense-fueled 33-2 run in the first half, and held Cerritos to four points in the third quarter.

"We certainly don't get the publicity," says Eckler, who's in his 10th season. "But when [Lutheran and Damien] have the kids that they've got, they're going to get more publicity."

(Read full post)

Citrus Hill's Rounds climbing up charts

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
5:09
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Anthony RoundsCitrus Hill HSAnthony Rounds was born in the I.E., but moved to the Midwest and elsewhere before returning to SoCal.

PERRIS -- Chances are not many Southland prep basketball followers have heard of Anthony Rounds. The senior from Citrus Hill, after all, has not been considered a household name in prep circles.

His days of being a relative unknown on the local landscape, however, appear to be coming to an end. Rounds has developed into a legitimate prospect and the Hawks figure to be a dangerous opponent in CIF-Southern Section postseason play next week as a result.

“Anyone familiar with our program knows that everything runs through Anthony; he's proven capable of shouldering the heavy burden,'' Citrus Hill coach Tim Hatch said. “It's one of those good news and bad news deals. He's not on many people's radar, but once they see him play, the perception about him changes. It's happened more times than I count, actually.''

His numbers this season are comparable to those of his much more well-known counterparts from the greater Los Angeles area. At 6 feet 7, 210-plus pounds, Rounds averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game in the regular season. Capable of playing in the post or on the wing, he's also contributed close to a pair of assists and steals per night.

Nevertheless, higher-profile peers such as Santa Ana Mater Dei's Katin Reinhardt and Xavier Johnson typically receive most of the recognition. The same thing can be said about Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Los Angeles Windward's Nick Stover. Rightfully so considering each individual is worthy of such praise given their respective bodies of work.

“Lack of attention always makes me work harder, I don't mind, that stuff doesn't bother me, it keeps me motivated,'' Rounds said. “When people don't talk about me, it just makes me hungry to succeed, to go out and prove everyone wrong. I can play with the best. I think that I have been sneaking up on some people for while. I feel like I'm ready to finally breakout.''

Behind Rounds, the Hawks (15-10 overall) won a share of the Mountain Pass League title and signs point to them being prepared for the Division 3-AAA playoffs. If Citrus Hill manages a way to find some success in the first couple of rounds and makes a run toward quarterfinals or semifinals, several interesting showdowns could end up materializing for Rounds.

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No. 17 Damien 55, Ayala 50

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
9:53
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LA VERNE -- Pundits speak highly of the mighty Chris Reyes, a bouncy forward with a relentless motor who is headed to play at Saint Mary's next fall. The chatter is warranted and well deserved, given his ability to affect games on both ends of the floor. Yet most often forget to mention that the Damien Spartans aren't just a one-man troop.

Matt Dunn
Blair Angulo/ESPN.comDamien coach Matt Dunn instructs during his team's game against Chino Hills Ayala on Wednesday.
Damien, the top-ranked team in latest CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA poll, showed its depth Wednesday night, erasing a double-digits halftime deficit and holding on for a 55-50 Sierra League victory over visiting Chino Hills Ayala. Defenders swarmed Reyes throughout, limiting him to just one field goal, but that didn't matter.

It has been a recurring storyline for the resilient Spartans, who sit atop the league standings. They've played 20 games and won 19 of them.

"I don't think we have a great team, I think we have great program," Damien coach Matt Dunn said. "Chris, obviously, is a spectacular player, but the other guys do the things that win games."

Reyes, averaging 18 points per game heading into the night, dealt with constant double- and triple-teams and was held scoreless in the first half as Damien (19-1) faced a 10-point deficit at the break. The Spartans stormed back, though, thanks to the hot right hand of wing Jared Dizon, who had 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Dizon's dagger 3-pointer midway through the third quarter highlighted a frantic 19-4 run, and Damien never coughed up the lead.

The student jazz band could finally play its lively tunes.

(Read full post)

Damien's Chris Reyes is Mr. Motivation

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
7:18
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Chris ReyesCourtesy of Justin RadDamien's Chris Reyes is accustomed to teams taken him lightly, and he's just fine with that.

LA VERNE -- When discussions take place about some of the Southland's premier post players, the name Chris Reyes is not always included in the conversation.

The lack of recognition, however, does not bother the 6-foot-6, 205-pound senior from Damien. The perceived snub has served as plenty of motivation this season. Accordingly, Reyes is playing as well, if not better than most his peers in the greater Los Angeles area.

“Chris may not be ranked as high as the other guys, but he is just as good in my book,'' Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “He affects the game in so many ways, on both ends of the floor. Honestly, I think when people underestimate him, it's a mistake. I've seen Chris make opponents pay for taking him lightly in the past. He plays with this uncanny fire.''

As Reyes has gone, so have the Spartans (18-1 overall), No. 17 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. They have a test Wednesday in a showdown with visiting Chino Hills Ayala. The winner will be in the driver's seat in the Sierra League standings.

The St. Mary's-bound Reyes is shooting 62 percent from the field and is averaging a double-double per game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Never one to back down from a challenge, he has also blocked an average of five shots on a nightly basis.

“I'd like to be be compared to the best big guys around. Do I think about it all the time? No, not really,'' Reyes said. “Honestly, I kind of like being unknown.''

He is far from an unknown, rest assured. Thing is: La Verne Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan, Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede typically grab most of the headlines.

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I.E.: 5 things from last week

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
5:33
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1. Nearly two years after the Murrieta Valley boys’ basketball team lost its last Southwestern League game, one that cost the Nighthawks a share of the league title, they faced off against the team that beat them, cross-town rival Vista Murrieta. The latest result Thursday night was even more shocking, as the host Broncos got 27 points from Davin Guinn and beat the top-ranked team in Division 2A, 60-47. As a result, heading into this week, Vista Murrieta, Murrieta Valley and Murrieta Mesa are locked in a three-way tie in SWL play at 3-1.

2. Don Lugo appeared to be the only 6-0 team at the halfway point of the Mt. Baldy League schedule, but the Dons had to forfeit a two-point victory against Montclair on Jan. 9 for using an ineligible player, the Chino Champion reported. The loss dropped Don Lugo into a three-way tie with Montclair and Colony, who the Dons also defeated earlier this season. Colony, which had a 59-game league winning streak snapped by Montclair last season, blew out the host Cavaliers, 88-57, on Friday night to set up a key rematch this Friday at Don Lugo.

3. Marvelle Harris of Eisenhower is considered one of the top unsigned shooting guards on the West Coast, according to several recruiting publications. The 6-foot-3 senior is likely earning additional looks after a strong start to the season. He was at his best Wednesday night in a 60-49 victory against Redlands East Valley, scoring 28 points and pulling down eight rebounds to keep the Eagles atop the Citrus Belt League standings. He had 29 points and 11 rebounds in 59-48 win the week before against Yucaipa, which is tied for second with REV at 3-1.

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South: Boys' basketball roundup

January, 19, 2012
1/19/12
12:28
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Compton (11-7) handed Long Beach Jordan (12-6) its first Moore League loss with a 72-63 overtime win Wednesday night. Victor Robbins overcame leg cramps to lead the Tarbabes with 19 points. Long Beach Poly (14-1) returned from a successful trip to Seattle and manhandled Long Beach Wilson to the tune of 79-33. Roschon Prince had 20 points.

In Western League action, Fairfax (12-6) improved to 4-1 in league with an 80-55 home win over LACES, while Westchester (11-4) blew out Venice, 63-32.

CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA top-ranked Damien (17-1) took sole possession of first place in the Sierra League with a 63-55 victory against Chino Hills (12-7). Chris Reyes had 24 points, including 12 straight in a clutch fourth quarter. Sharpshooting wing Jared Dizon added 21.

In a battle for first place in the Hacienda League, Bonita (15-4) beat Walnut, 55-40.

Gardena Serra (17-2) remained atop the Del Rey League by defeating Bishop Amat, 52-21. The Cavaliers held the Lancers to just nine points in the first half. Elsewhere in league, Bishop Montgomery (16-3) earned a 72-48 win at Cathedral.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball roundup

January, 17, 2012
1/17/12
1:08
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La Verne Lutheran beat Orange Lutheran, 61-58, in a matchup between two of the best teams in Southern California. Top senior Grant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran dealt with early foul trouble but the Trojans earned a hard-fought road victory.

Elsewhere, Kajon Mack had a game-high 32 points to help Gardena Serra (16-2) beat Santa Monica, 63-56, in the finale of the MLK Day Hoops Showdown at Price High School. Daddy Ugbede added 12 points and eight rebounds. Santa Monica stormed back from a large deficit with a 28-point fourth quarter but by then it was too late. Los Angeles Price (13-5) held off Palm Springs, 62-57, thanks to 17 points and 13 rebounds from Skylar Spencer.

At the Los Osos Shootout in Rancho Cucamonga, Damien improved to 16-1 with a 52-47 victory against Ventura. Chris Reyes scored 18 points for Damien. Pacific Hills (16-3) beat Chino Hills, 69-55, behind Marcus Jackson's 22 points. Bishop Amat got past Chino, 51-42, while Glendora blew out Claremont, 68-48.

In another non-league game, Bishop Montgomery (15-3) defeated Valencia, 71-53.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
9:21
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The south Los Angeles County boys' basketball top 10 power rankings:

1. Long Beach Poly (12-1)
The Jackrabbits showed no rustiness following a three-week layoff, blowing out Lakewood, 74-30, behind 25 points from standout junior Roschon Prince. This week: vs. Rainer Beach (Seattle, Wash.) in King Holiday Hoop Fest at Univ. of Washington, Mon.; at Long Beach Wilson, Wed.; vs. Millikan, Fri.

2. Loyola (14-2)
The Cubs got back on track with three convincing Mission League wins against Chaminade, Harvard-Westlake and Notre Dame. This week: at St. Francis, Sat.

3. La Verne Lutheran (14-4)
Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett scored 30 points in an overtime win against Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. This week: at Orange Lutheran in Tony Matson Memorial Classic, Mon.

4. Price (12-5)
Guard Chance Murray led the way with 22 points in a thrilling victory against Serra in Saturday's Cochran Classic at LACES. This week: vs. Palm Springs, Mon.; vs. Leuzinger at Gardena Serra, Sat.

5. Gardena Serra (15-2)
An up and down week for the Cavaliers, who got an important league win against Bishop Montgomery before losing to L.A. Price on a controversial last-second call. This week: vs. Santa Monica at L.A. Price, Mon.; at Bishop Amat, Wed.; vs. La Salle, Fri.; vs. San Diego Hoover, Sat.

6. St. John Bosco (13-2)
The Braves have started 3-0 in the Trinity League and now get a tough test against Orange Lutheran. The Hamilton brothers -- junior Isaac and sophomore Daniel -- have Bosco in great shape. This week: vs. Orange Lutheran, Wed.; at Allstate National Prep Classic in New Orleans, weekend.

7. Bishop Montgomery (14-3)
The Knights could never get over the hump against Serra and lost for the first time in nearly a month. This week: at Cathedral, Wed.

8. Compton (10-7)
Forward Victor Robbins might be the top unsigned senior in the Southland. He proved it Saturday with 25 points and 16 rebounds in a big win against Windward. This week: at Long Beach Jordan, Wed.

9. Windward (13-6)
A win against Alpha League foe Brentwood followed by a blowout loss to Compton made for mixed results last week. This week: Idle.

10. Damien (15-1)
The Spartans have won 11 straight since losing in the title game of the Concord De La Salle tournament. St. Mary's-bound big man Chris Reyes and Co. can gain a stranglehold of the Sierra League. This week: vs. Ventura at Los Osos, Mon.; vs. Chino Hills, Wed.; at Charter Oak, Fri.

Ten more, in alphabetic order: Brentwood (12-4), Dorsey (15-5), Downey (16-4), Leuzinger (12-4), Muir (16-1), Pacific Hills (15-3), Pasadena (12-5), Peninsula (12-5), Santa Monica (11-5), Westchester (10-4)

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Following him on Twitter.

Citrus Belt, Sierra and Sunkist previews

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
4:04
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CITRUS BELT LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Fontana @ Redlands; Yucaipa @ Eisenhower; A.B. Miller @ Redlands East Valley.

Last year’s finish: Eisenhower (10-0); Redlands East Valley (8-2), Redlands (6-4); Yucaipa (4-6); A.B. Miller (2-8); Fontana (0-10).

Players to watch: Marvelle Harris (Eisenhower), 6-3, Sr. G; Terrance Sims (Eisenhower), 5-10, Sr., G; Toriano Harris (Eisenhower), 6-1, Sr., G; Evan Pea’Ches (Redlands), 6-7, Sr., F; Jamal Ellis (Redlands East Valley), 5-11, Sr., G; Daylin Billingsley (Yucaipa), 6-6, Sr., F; Adam Stanford (A.B. Miller), 6-3, Jr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Eisenhower, Redlands, Redlands East Valley, Yucaipa, Fontana, A.B. Miller.

SIERRA LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Ayala @ Chino Hills; Damien @ Claremont; Charter Oak @ South Hills.

Last year’s finish: Damien (9-1); Chino Hills (7-3); Ayala (7-3); Claremont (5-5); South Hills (1-9); Charter Oak (1-9).

Players to watch: Chris Reyes (Damien), 6-7, Sr., F; Clayton White (Damien), 6-0, Sr., G; Jared Dizon (Damien), 6-3, Jr., G; Josh Ramirez (Ayala), 6-4, Sr., G; Jared Ponce (Ayala), 6-2, Sr., G; Matt Ponce (Ayala), 5-10, Sr., G; Tyler Ponce (Ayala), 6-2, Sr., G; Mike Navar (Chino Hills), 6-7, Sr., C; Deion Page (Chino Hills), 6-1, Sr., G; Deandre Page (Chino Hills), 6-1, Sr., G; Bishop Mency (Chino Hills), 6-4, So., F; Kyle Maloof (Claremont), 6-1, Sr., G; Korey Serna (South Hills), 6-9, Sr., C; Kody Brown (Charter Oak), 6-7, Sr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Damien, Chino Hills, Ayala, Claremont, South Hills, Charter Oak.

SUNKIST LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Jurupa Valley @ Summit, Patriot @ Bloomington; Norte Vista @ Kaiser.

Last year’s finish: Summit (10-0); Patriot (8-2); Jurupa Valley (5-5); Bloomington (3-7); Kaiser (2-8); Norte Vista (0-10).

Players to watch: Devon Alexander (Summit), 6-1, Sr., G; Darrick Arnold (Summit), 6-3, Sr., F; Isaiah Taylor (Summit), 6-1, Sr., G; Thomas Folsom (Patriot), 6-10, Sr., C; Stephon Bryant (Jurupa Valley), 6-2, Jr., F; Sam Parks (Jurupa Valley), 6-1, So., F; Steven Avila (Jurupa Valley), 5-10, Jr., G; John Moss (Bloomington), 5-10, Sr., G

Predicted order of finish: Summit, Jurupa Valley, Kaiser, Patriot, Bloomington, Norte Vista.

Previously:

Baseline, Mountain Pass, Southwestern and Sunbelt leagues

Big VIII, Mojave River and Mt. Baldy leagues

Desert Valley, Inland Valley and San Andreas leagues

Damien wins Covina tournament

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
11:00
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La Verne Damien beat Riverside J.W. North 53-36 to win the 58th annual Covina Christmas tournament Thursday night. The top-seeded Spartans (13-1) got 19 points and 12 rebounds from St. Mary's-bound forward Chris Reyes, who subsequently was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Other tournament results involving south Los Angeles County schools:

Windward 71, Woodland Hills Taft 59
Loyola Marymount-bound Nick Stover had 30 points in the Holiday Classic tournament's National Division semifinal in San Diego. Windward (8-4) will meet DeMatha (Md.), the nation's 10th-ranked team, in the championship game Friday at 8:15 p.m.

Loyola 64, Tampa Jesuit 43
The nationally-ranked Loyola Cubs (10-0) advanced to the title game of the fourth annual Father George National Jesuit Christmas Classic boys' basketball tournament in North Bethesda, Md., about 15 miles north of downtown Washington D.C. Loyola will face tournament host Georgetown Prep in the championship game Friday at 5 p.m. PT.

L.A. Washington 68, Crespi 58
The Washington Generals (7-8) pulled off the surprise win in the Redondo Union Sea Hawk Beach Classic tournament semifinals, handing previously unbeaten Crespi its first loss of the season. They will play Torrance Bishop Montgomery in Friday's final.

Bishop Montgomery 70, L.A. Price 63
The other semifinal in Redondo was a scoring fest. Bishop Montgomery (11-2) added to its impressive résumé, which already includes wins over Westchester, Taft, Washington and Gardena Serra.

J.W. North-Damien: Battle of bigs?

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
5:08
PM PT
An intriguing matchup is brewing tonight in the championship game of the Covina Christmas Classic boys’ basketball tournament.

J.W. North is set to take on Damien at 8:30 p.m. at Covina High and there will be no shortage of tall talent.

North’s front court is anchored by senior Aaron Peck (6-4) and juniors Dorian Butler (6-5), Marcus Baugh (6-5) and Adrian Hughes (6-8), with sophomore point guard Deshon Taylor (6-0) running the show.

Damien (12-1) is led by 6-7 senior forward Chris Reyes, who signed with Saint Mary’s in October after also taking recruiting trips to Gonzaga, UC Santa Barbara and Boston College.

Reyes is averaging 19 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Spartans, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section Division 3AA preseason coaches’ poll. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 59-39 semifinal victory Wednesday against Northview.

North (10-2) advanced to the championship game with a 69-53 victory against tournament-host Covina. The Huskies trailed by three early in the second half and didn’t put the game away until a 10-4 run to start the fourth quarter. Butler scored 18 points and Peck had 12 for the Huskies.

North was ranked No. 7 in the Southern Section Division 2AA preseason poll.

A number of other Inland Empire teams are making deep runs in various holiday tournaments.

Etiwanda reached the semifinals of the Holiday Hardwood Classic at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village. The Eagles will meet Santa Monica tonight at 7 p.m., with the winner playing either Oaks Christian or Cleveland in Friday night's final.

Etiwanda (12-1) beat Eisenhower for the second time in a week in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, 57-48. Sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin led the way with 21 points.

(Read full post)

Damien, Northview tourney final

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
10:23
PM PT
GLENDORA -- The final for the Pride of the Foothills Classic boys basketball tournament is set.

La Verne Damien and Northview will square off in Saturday night's title game at Glendora High School. Damien (8-1) came back to beat Chino Don Lugo, 85-80, Friday night behind 25 points and 11 rebounds from St. Mary's-bound forward Chris Reyes. Northview (10-1) upset tournament host Glendora (8-2), 55-42, which was without junior standout Nick Colletta (back injury). Tartans coach Mike Leduc said he hopes to have Colletta, who averaged 24 points per game last season, back in the starting lineup by the end of the month.

Don Lugo, with only four bench players, got tired and blew a 12-point lead. Damien erased a late 10-point deficit, going on a 26-11 run in the final six minutes to close it out.

"Offensively, we valued every possession," Damien coach Matt Dunn said. "We persevered."

The championship game will tip off Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
6:20
PM PT
Loyola, Long Beach Poly and La Verne Lutheran are ranked in the preseason POWERADE ESPNHS Fab 50 national rankings, and they lead the way in our opening edition of the south Los Angeles County boys' basketball top 10:

1. Loyola (4-0)
Key players: PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, SG Justin Childress, SG Jacob Hazzard, SF Julian Harrell (Penn)
Last season: The Cubs went 25-6 and won the CIF-Southern Section Div. I-A championship before losing by two to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Jackson-Cartwright, only a sophomore, is already considered the top point guard in the state. Mix in the shooting of Childress and Hazzard -- as well as the versatility of Harrell -- and the Cubs have a lineup that few can match.

2. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
Key players: SF Roschon Prince, PF Jordan Bell, PG Chris Croom, SG Reuben Strickland
Last season: The Jackrabbits posted a 30-2 record and captured the Division 1AA title in Anaheim before losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer lost his top two to graduation -- state player of the year Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) -- but there's more than enough talent left. Prince and Bell might be the best one-two combination in the county.

3. La Verne Lutheran (4-0)
Key players: PF Grant Jerrett (Arizona), SG Eric Cooper Jr. (Arizona), SF McKay Anderson, SG Cameron Osorno
Last season: The Trojans overcame off-the-court adversity, finishing with a 25-5 mark and a second consecutive state championship.
Why they're here: Jerrett, a long and lean power forward, is arguably the top prospect on the West Coast. Coach Eric Cooper Sr. returns nine letter-winners from last year's team, including son Eric Cooper Jr., a sharp-shooting junior who makes teams pay for double-teaming Jerrett down low.

4. St. John Bosco (4-0)
Key players: SG Isaac Hamilton, PF Anthony January (UTEP), SF Darryl Matthews, SG Daniel Hamilton
Last season: The Braves finished 21-9 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4AA playoffs.
Why they're here: New coach Derrick Taylor, who built Woodland Hills Taft into a City Section power, has the Braves thinking about the Trinity League crown. Getting past defending state champion Mater Dei won't be easy, but Bosco has Isaac Hamilton, a transfer from Crenshaw who is one of the nation's top juniors.

5. Price (3-1)
Key players: PF Skylar Spencer (San Diego State), PG Chance Murray, SG Chris Sandifer
Last season: The high-flying Knights went 24-8 and fell just short against La Cañada in the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship game.
Why they're here: Yes, Price lost guard Askia Booker (Colorado) and ultra athletic forward Norvel Pelle to graduation but don't dismiss coach Michael Lynch's bunch. Spencer is another high-soaring scorer who's lethal in fast break opportunities, and Murray, a junior, already has a scholarship offer from UCLA.

(Read full post)



LA VERNE -- The tight-knit community had to pick a side Tuesday night.

Whom to cheer for? The No. 4-seeded Damien Spartans? The No. 5-seeded Bonita Bearcats? And, perhaps most important, what to wear? Both schools use green as a primary color.

La Verne residents couldn't dodge this one. Damien's campus sits on the corner of Damien Avenue and -- you guessed it -- Bonita Avenue. Turn right on Bonita and take it for a mile until you hit D Street. Make a left and, poof, you've made the quick jump, er, trip from one campus to the other.

Calling this a battle for city bragging rights wouldn't do it justice.

When the dust settled, Sierra League champion Damien (26-3) emerged victorious, 52-44, and advanced to next week's CIF Southern Section Division 3A semifinals. With Hacienda League champion Bonita (26-4) eliminated, the small town of 30,000 figures to follow the Spartans wherever they go next.

"It's a really respectful rivalry," Damien coach Matt Dunn said. "I know we have the utmost respect for them and as a community, it's a lot of fun. We both play with the kids that come to our schools and I think that's what makes it special. This year we both happened to be very good."

On this night, Damien was just a tad bit better.

Bonita had the game's two leading scorers -- Jordan Butler had 15 and James Northup had 11 -- but Dunn had balance with seven of his players scoring at least six points. Clayton White and Gian Demano led the Spartans with nine each, J.P. Chakbazof and J.J. Pavia scored eight apiece.

Dunn's biggest player, though, left his mark late. Damien led by two with less than a minute to go when leading scorer Chris Reyes tipped in a miss. Half of the crowd went wild. You could finally distinguish who was rooting for the home team and who wasn't.

"That tip-in was big," Reyes said. "We needed to get a score right there."

(Read full post)

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