Los Angeles Preps: CIF State

Carson's Tautalafua ties state home run mark

May, 18, 2012
Carson's Darian Tautalafua hit her 53rd career home run on Friday afternoon, tying the state record in the top-seeded Colts' 10-4 win against Chatsworth in the City Section softball playoffs.

Tautalafua, who has signed to play next year at Long Beach State, has 17 home runs this season. She tied the mark shared by Crenshaw's Alia Williams (2006-09) and La Crescenta Valley's Baillie Kirker (2006-09).

Tautalafua will have a chance to set a new record Tuesday when Carson meets Granada Hills in the semifinals.

Eric Cooper leaves Lutheran for St. Anthony

April, 26, 2012
Eric Cooper, who guided La Verne Lutheran to back-to-back state basketball titles in 2010 and 2011 before falling short in the Southern California regional semifinals last season, has accepted the head coaching position at Long Beach St. Anthony.

Lutheran was 25-8 last season behind Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett, the state's only McDonald's All-American.

"It's an opportunity to come home to the area I grew up at, a chance to do something out here," Cooper said. "I still have a great team over there at Lutheran. It was a very tough decision, kind of just came about. I prayed about it and it worked out."

Cooper took over at Lutheran in 2007 and quickly built its program into a small-school power, compiling a 132-30 record in five seasons. Cooper's son, Eric Cooper Jr., will also make the move to St. Anthony. Cooper Jr. is an Arizona commit and one of the area's top rising senior guards.

St. Anthony was 17-10 last season and 50-30 over the last three years under former coach Chris Morrison.

"Everything fell in place at Lutheran," Cooper said. "I had good kids who were ready to work and great assistant coaches. That's what made it right."

CIF-SS Council passes transfer rule proposal

April, 25, 2012
The CIF Southern Section Council voted Wednesday morning to pass a proposal that aims to revise the state's transfer rules. Under the proposed new rule, transfers would sit out 30 days as opposed to a full academic year. It passed by the slimmest of margins, 41-40.

The proposal still must pass at the state level next week for it to go into effect this summer.

Mater Dei girls win third straight title

March, 24, 2012

SACRAMENTO -- After eight minutes on Saturday night, the CIF Division I girls championship game looked an awful lot like the 2011 edition. Mater Dei is sure glad it ended in much the same fashion as well.

The Monarchs trailed early but eventually wore down and defeated Berkeley 57-40 for a second straight title-game victory over the Yellow Jackets and a state championship three-peat. Mater Dei won the Division II title in 2010. It is the school’s fourth girls' state basketball championship.

“You always want to win your last game especially being a senior,” Monarchs senior guard Jordan Adams said. “Not many people can say that they have three state championships and I’m just so proud of my team.”

Adams and fellow senior guards Kaija Powell and Alexas Williamson have been a part of all three recent Monarchs championship teams, including national championships in 2010 and 2011.

Berkeley led 16-13 late in the first quarter on the strength of a hot start from the field, much like last year when they led Mater Dei 16-8. But on Saturday senior guard Nirra Fields, who was not at Mater Dei last year, took over. Fields had a put-back on the Monarchs’ final possession of the quarter to cut the deficit to one, then scored their first eight points of the second quarter, part of a 14-2 run to claim control.

Berkeley was able to score just two points -- on free-throws -- in the second quarter and eight in the third while the Monarchs broke the game open.

“We started guarding some people,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. “Playing defense the way we know how. We don’t want to trade baskets with anybody, we want stops.”

Adams finished with a double-double recording 13 points and 11 rebounds in addition to three steals and three blocks. Fields had a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds while Williamson added 16 points. Williamson also had the difficult task of guarding shifty Yellow Jackets guard Elisha Davis who had 10 points and nine rebounds.

“She’s a really great player with a lot of skills,” Williamson said. “I was just trying to stay in front of her. … Sometimes she got by me but my teammates were there for the help.”

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Alemany takes Division III thriller

March, 17, 2012

ONTARIO -- Sometimes the spotlight shines brightest on players like K.J. Moffett. The junior guard won't soon forget his moment.

Moffett's sprawling reverse layup with under two seconds remaining carried the Alemany boys' basketball team to the CIF Southern California Division III regional championship Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Arena. It was his only field goal in the Warriors' thrilling 62-61 victory over St. John Bosco but it secured a trip to Sacramento, where they'll meet NorCal champion San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The ball reached Moffett's hands on a pass from teammate Marqueze Coleman, a top-scoring wing headed to Nevada. The lesser-known player made it count, driving baseline and converting on a difficult attempt.

"It didn't seem real," Moffett said. "It was a great feeling."

Alemany led by as many as 18 in the first half but needed a comeback late. Bosco went on a furious rally, jumping ahead by six with under two minutes left. The Braves led by one following Kameron Murrell's lay in with 11 seconds remaining.

"Wow is the only thing I can say about that game," Alemany coach Tray Meeks said.

Alemany (32-4), the Southern Section Division 3A champion, was led by Coleman's 24 points and point guard Max Guercy's 20.

Isaac Hamilton had 32 points and 11 rebounds for Bosco, which reached the regional final with a thrilling victory against Southern Section Division 3AAA champion Pasadena earlier in the week.

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L.B. Poly stunned by Fresno Bullard

March, 13, 2012
Madness struck in Long Beach on Tuesday night.

Second-seeded Long Beach Poly fell to Fresno Bullard in a shocker at Cabrillo High School, eliminating the Jackrabbits from the Southern California Regionals Boys Division I playoffs.

Junior forward Jordan Bell blocked a potential tying shot, but the ball deflected out near mid court, where Bullard's Walter Orr scooped it and heaved a turnaround jumper that swished through the net to give the visitors the improbable win.

Bullard advanced to the title game to play top-seeded Mater Dei, the defending state champion, on Saturday at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario.

The winner will play for the state title in Sacramento the following weekend.

Click here for video of the dramatic shot.

Price knocks off La Verne Lutheran

March, 13, 2012

LA VERNE -- It was as simple as this: Skylar Spencer didn't want his season to end. One free throw to tie, two to lead. Less than seven seconds remaining.

The San Diego State-bound forward sank both, pushing Los Angeles Price past La Verne Lutheran, 53-52, Tuesday night in the Southern California Regionals Division IV semifinals at the University of La Verne. Price will match up against top-seeded Gardena Serra, the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA champion, in the regional title game Saturday night at Ontario Colony High School.

Second-seeded Lutheran, a two-time defending state champion, had a chance to win with 6.9 seconds remaining, but McDonald's All-American Grant Jerrett fumbled a pass inside the paint before the final buzzer sounded.

"That last six-point-whatever seconds seemed like two minutes," Price coach Michael Lynch said. "When I saw that ball fumbled away, I lost it."

Lutheran (25-8) took a 52-51 lead with 32.8 seconds remaining after Jerrett made one of two free throws. Lynch called a timeout and, on the ensuing possession, Spencer pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled hard.

He composed himself and took the biggest free throws of his life.

"I knew I had to at least make one but I was worried about making two," said Spencer, who finished with 11 points and five blocked shots. "I didn't want my season to end. I didn't want the game to go into overtime."

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L.B. Poly beats OLu a second time

March, 10, 2012
Roschon PrinceBlair Angulo for ESPNLA.comRoschon Price scored a game-high 29 points as Long Beach Poly knocked off Orange Lutheran.

LONG BEACH -- Roschon Prince knew beating Orange Lutheran and star Gabe York wouldn’t be as easy the second time around, so he planted his feet.

The versatile Prince was a force in the paint, leading Long Beach Poly to a 70-62 victory Saturday night at Jordan High School. The Jackrabbits advanced to the Southern California Regionals Division I semifinals, where they'll meet Fresno Bullard on Tuesday. Prince had a game-high 29 points without any makes from beyond the arc. He mostly played with his back to the basket.

"It's always the game plan to dominate the paint," the junior forward said. "I saw something and wanted to focus on being on the block and scoring easy."

Fellow junior Jordan Bell did the dirty work, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking six shots to go along with eight points. Reuben Strickland added 10 points for second-seeded Long Beach Poly (28-2).

York, the sharpshooting Arizona signee, had 27 for Orange Lutheran (22-11). OLu had a disappointing regular season before capturing the Southern Section Division 1A title. At one point the Lancers lost eight of 10 games and finished third in the Trinity League. Their troubles were on full display against Poly at the Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza on Feb. 4 -- a game the Jackrabbits easily won by 22.

"It's the state payoffs and teams are better," Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer said. "They're champions. I knew this game wasn't going to be easy."

York had trouble with Poly’s active defense last time. The guard finished with 23 points but never found his lethal touch from the perimeter, missing 14 of 19 shots.

"We didn't want to take them lightly just because we beat them by so much at the Extravaganza," Prince said. "We wanted to come out hungry, fight hard and put our will on them early so it wouldn't be a hard game."

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Aliso Niguel girls win Div. I soccer title

March, 10, 2012
Aliso Niguel soccerBlair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comThe Aliso Niguel girls' soccer team celebrates its dramatic 3-2 win over Los Osos on Saturday.

DOWNEY -- The battle to determine the nation’s top girls’ soccer team lived up to its billing and, in the end, it was Aliso Niguel beating Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, 3-2, Saturday afternoon in the Southern California Regionals Girls Division I championship at Justice Stadium on the campus of Warren High School.

Freshman Lauren Miller had the game-winner in the 66th minute, capping a furious rally that stunned the nation’s top-ranked squad, according to ESPNHS.

“I didn’t bat an eye,” Aliso Niguel co-head coach Randy Dodge said of his team’s three-goal flurry early in the second half. “Without a doubt now, we’re the national champions for the Winter season.”

Aliso Niguel (22-1-5), which avenged its only loss in the CIF-Southern Section final, initially struggled to build rhythm, getting flagged for offsides four times in the first 10 minutes. And despite falling behind 2-0, the Wolverines never really lost control of the match.

Lindsay Doyle cut the deficit in half in the 56th minute before netting the equalizer four minutes later.

“That first goal just got us back in it,” Doyle said.

Los Osos forward Ifeoma Onumonu reached the 30-goal plateau. She struck in the 24th minute thanks to a fortunate bounce, taking advantage of failed clearance. The ball deflected off teammate Sydney Johnson, and Oregon State-bound keeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme tried leaving the box but Onumonu wasted no time, depositing a bullet shot into the lower right corner from 20 yards out.

Onumonu scored again six minutes into the second half, cleaning up a giveaway inside the box. Los Osos (25-1-3) nearly made it 3-0 a few minutes later but Prudhomme was heroic with a diving save in a one-on-one situation.

Then the tide shifted.

“Our team has a tendency to come back,” Prudhomme said. “We created chances to win it. I think my save got us a little excited.”

Etiwanda-Loyola: Battle of elite PGs

March, 9, 2012
Loyola's Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Etiwanda's Jordan McLaughlin are, without question, two of the Southland's top basketball prospects. The point guards figure to draw quite an audience Saturday night when their schools meet in the second round of the Division I Southern California Regionals.

The sophomores are quite familiar with each other. They matched up in summer-league games last year and even attended a high school football game together as friends.

They'll meet under different circumstances Saturday: A trip to the regional semifinals -- likely against top-seeded Mater Dei -- is up for grabs.

"I'll play my game, nothing is going to change," said Jackson-Cartwright, the top-ranked player in the state for the 2014 recruiting class who has scholarship offers from the likes of UCLA, USC, Arizona State and Washington. "He's a good player. I'll try to get into him and make it tough for him."

Loyola outlasts Crenshaw in first round

March, 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- Julian Harrell still hasn't gotten over Loyola's loss to Mater Dei in the CIF-Southern Section semifinals. He says he thinks about the 10-point lead his team let slip away in the final 10 minutes against the state's top-ranked team and eventual Division 1AA champion.

It happened over a week ago, but the defeat still stings. Loyola used it as motivation Wednesday night, beating Crenshaw 103-91 before a capacity crowd in the first round of the Southern California Regionals.

"I'm not over the loss, to be honest," said Harrell, who scored a team-high 25 points. "I'm still trying to swallow that loss. ... That's in the past, but we do want another shot at [Mater Dei]."

Fourth-seeded Loyola (25-5) will face Etiwanda in the second round Saturday night and, with a win, will likely get another crack at the top-seeded Monarchs in the regional semifinals.

Sharpshooter Jacob Hazzard had 22 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Cubs. Senior Khaliq Bedart-Ghani added 16 and an electrifying breakaway dunk. Super sophomore point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 12 points and 10 assists.

Loyola held a 51-40 lead following an up-and-down, fast-paced first half. Crenshaw had twice fallen behind by double figures but responded with runs, including a 9-0 spurt midway through the second quarter. The Cubs answered with a 17-4 run, highlighted by a pair of dagger 3-pointers from role player Trey Mason.

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ESPNLA prep football Top 25

December, 12, 2011
LA PrepESPN.com Illustration

Shiny trophies were handed out to sectional champions, led by state-bowl selections Westlake (Northern Division) and Santa Margarita (Pac-5 Division). Harbor City Narbonne claimed the City Section Division I title, moving up to the No. 4 spot in the ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings. Our list heading into the state bowl games:

1. Westlake (14-0)
The Warriors won their second Northern Division championship in three years behind Dashon Hunt's five touchdowns. Westlake is going bowling. Last week: Beat Oaks Christian, 49-42. Next: Open Division state championship game vs. Concord De La Salle at Home Depot Center, Saturday, 8 p.m.

2. Vista Murrieta (9-5)#*
Junior quarterback Nicholas Stephens scored the Inland Division championship-winning touchdown with 26 seconds remaining. They were undefeated on the field, but they didn't get the nod for the Division I state bowl. Last week: Beat Corona Centennial, 35-28.

3. Santa Margarita (12-2)
Coach Harry Welch won his ninth overall championship and first with the Eagles. Quarterback Johnny Stanton had 240 total yards. The Eagles are heading to state. Last week: Beat San Clemente, 27-13. Next: Division I state championship game vs. San Jose Bellarmine at Home Depot Center, Friday, 8 p.m.

4. Narbonne (11-3)*
Emotional leader Tray Boone usually talks the talk, but he backed it up Friday with six touchdown runs and 316 total yards to lead the Gauchos to the City Section Division I title. Last week: Beat Carson, 48-32.

5. Corona Centennial (12-2)*
Quarterback Hayden Gavett and running back Romello Goodman finally ran into the team that could keep up. Last week: Lost to Vista Murrieta, 35-28.

6. Oaks Christian (11-3)*
The Lions were closer to Westlake this time around, but it still wasn't enough in the Northern Division championship game. Last week: Lost to Westlake, 49-42.

7. San Clemente (12-2)*
The Tritons had to settle for a pair of first-half field goals, and it was the difference at Angel Stadium. The Tritons could have put the Eagles on their heels. Last week: Lost to Santa Margarita, 27-13.

8. Mission Viejo (10-3)*
The South Coast League champions have Max Redfield coming back next year. He's projected as one of the top safeties on the West Coast.

9. Upland (12-1)*
Quarterback Nate Romine returns next year for the Baseline League champs.

10. St. Bonaventure (10-3)*
The third-place Seraphs must replace departing seniors Shaun Wick and Marc Evans.

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SACRAMENTO -- All of Mater Dei's basketball players have their nicknames stitched to the back of their warm-up shirts. Some are funny and quirky. Others are a bit intimidating, like Katin Reinhardt's, which reads, "GET USED 2 IT."

The message may be prophetic.

Reinhardt had a game-high 17 points to guide Mater Dei to a 43-36 win against Concord De La Salle in the CIF State Boys Division I championship. The Monarchs claimed their eighth state championship, tying Crenshaw for the most all time. And like Reinhardt's shirt claims, California might have to get used to it.

"Be ready for what's coming," Reinhardt said smiling. "I'm probably going to take two weeks off, try to put some weight back on and come back strong for next year."

Mater Dei erased a nine-point deficit and survived despite a horrendous first half. The Monarchs (32-2) went more than six minutes without scoring and slow-paced De La Salle (27-6) capitalized, going on a 13-0 run to pull ahead, 16-7. It was the worst-case scenario; the Monarchs were playing right into the Spartans' trap and losing.

"We didn't match their intensity," Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. "They played more physical than us, offensively and defensively."

Mater Dei had only five points in the second quarter and just three made baskets in the entire first half. It all added up to an 18-12 deficit at the break.

"Down six to these guys is like being down 20," McKnight added. "We had to pick up the intensity."

The Monarchs outscored the Spartans 15-10 in the third quarter and regained the lead, 29-28, on the opening possession of the fourth. De La Salle managed just eight points in the fourth and had only one player in double figures, Benny Battle, with 10.

But it was how the gritty, hard-nosed Spartans wanted to play.

"Kids played their hearts out," De La Salle coach Frank Allocco said. "They did a [great] job all year and represented the north well."

This is fair warning, California: Mater Dei graduates only one starter, David Brown.

"It's a great group of guys," McKnight said. "They lost in the [Southern Section] semifinals. To come back and win a state championship says something about their character."

SACRAMENTO -- Kevin Payne sank the shot of his life and pointed to the sky. That one was for his fallen father. Twenty seconds later, another dagger, and Payne pointed to the stands. That one was for his mother, who was there to console him.

Payne's back-to-back threes propelled La Verne Lutheran to a 64-59 win against Oakland Bishop O'Dowd in the CIF State Boys Division III championship Saturday afternoon, securing the Trojans' second consecutive title.

"This means everything to me," said Payne, whose father, Kevin Payne Sr., died in August. "This is a storybook ending. It feels like a fairy tale right now. From everything we've gone through and me personally, with everything I've gone through, sometimes I felt like quitting, and my [teammates] would not let me do it."

Payne had taken the place of starter Xavier Jones, who left for the hospital after his defibrillator began buzzing in the early minutes. Jones wears a defibrillator to monitor his heart rate.

"I got him out of there quickly," said Lutheran coach Eric Cooper, who in November saved Jones' life by administering CPR after the player had collapsed in practice. "He looked concerned."

The game went on after Jones left Power Balance Pavilion. The teams came out cold to start, shooting a combined 31 percent (eight for 26) in the first quarter. Brandon Ashley had six of the Dragons' eight first-quarter points; Grant Jerrett and Bruce English, with four apiece, combined for Lutheran's eight. They settled down in the second -- Lutheran made eight of 12 shots, O'Dowd five of 10.

The Trojans (26-5) scored the last seven points of the first half to go up 26-21. But O'Dowd emerged from the locker room a different, more inspired team, using a 10-0 run at the start of the third to go in front. The Dragons scored 24 points in the third after getting 21 in the entire first half.

"We showed who we really are," O'Dowd coach Doug Vierra said.

Lutheran, which trailed by as many as eight, responded with a 12-4 run to open the fourth. They regained the lead, 54-51, on a three from Cameron Osorno, whose 16 key points off the bench tied him for the team lead with Jerrett, the top-rated forward in the 2012 class. Ashley had a game-high 26 for O'Dowd (25-7) -- which fell in the Division III state title game for the second straight year -- before fouling out in the final minute.

The Trojans trailed, 59-58, with 1:24 left before Payne's unexpected heroics.

"As soon as I took both of them I knew they were going in," Payne said. "I just had the confidence and I believed. There's an angel watching over all of us."

SACRAMENTO -- Windward basketball coach Miguel Villegas had done his best to maintain composure in the interview room at Power Balance Pavilion, answering questions with a stern look while his players smiled and giggled.

After five minutes, he could no longer fight the tears.

Villegas broke down, dedicating the Wildcats' 63-57 victory over Richmond Salesian in the CIF State Boys Division IV championship to Daniel Tan, a former Windward player who died in January of multiple sclerosis. Windward took turns carrying a sewn portrait of Tan, an avid supporter who graduated in 2007. The Wildcats captured their second state title in three years.

"There's nothing that we can't accomplish," Villegas said. "I think these kids definitely did that this year."

Harvard-bound forward Wesley Saunders led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds, but he didn't do it alone. Three other Windward (27-8) players scored in double figures: Nick Stover and Luke Silverman-LLoyd each had 13, Charles Dawson had 12.

The Wildcats' biggest lead was nine, early in the fourth quarter, following an emphatic dunk by Saunders. But he was called for a technical foul after saluting the Windward student section on his way back to the other end. Salesian (26-12) cut the deficit to three, but Stover's three-pointer with 1:23 left gave the Wildcats a nice cushion.

"It was kind of a dagger play," Salesian coach Bill Mellis said.

Windward's zone defense held Salesian to 34-percent shooting (21 for 62), including just five for 22 from beyond the arc. Jabari Bird, one of the top guards in the 2013 class, had a game-high 23 points, but Windward limited 310-pounder Freddie Tagaloa, a highly touted offensive lineman, to just six.

"I thought it was a good zone," Mellis said. "Windward is long, active and able to cover a lot of ground. I also thought they did a good job of taking away our inside game."