Los Angeles Preps: Colony

I.E: Final boys basketball top 10

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
4:27
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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.: Baseball season preview

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
6:30
PM PT
The meat of the high school baseball season is upon us, with several teams beginning league play this week. Here’s a look at the programs who’ve established themselves as the best in the Inland Empire so far, led my J.W. North, the defending Southern Section Division 1 champion. A list of the top players from the region follows, one for those playing high school baseball and another for the handful who have opted to train with ABD Academy in San Bernardino, and the dates for the start of league play are listed at the bottom.

Top 10 teams

1. J.W. North – The Huskies have picked up where they left off, winning their first six games, including a 3-0 victory against Temescal Canyon in the final of the Redlands Invitational.

2. Indio – The Rajahs are off to an 8-0 start and they're not piling up wins against cream puffs. They’ve beaten Granite Hills, Temecula Valley, Norco, Palm Springs and meet Chino on Tuesday in the championship game of the Chino tournament.

3. Redlands East Valley – The Wildcats only blemish is a 4-2 loss against J.W. North. They might have the talent to make a run at the top of this list, but still need to gain some quality victories.

4. Granite Hills – Hailing from Apple Valley, the Cougars aren’t much of a household name. They soon could be, however, posting early-season wins against Chino Hills, Valley View, Oak Hills and Canyon Springs and holding their own in three-run losses to J.W. North and Indio.

5. Temescal Canyon – The Titans are another team whose only setback came against J.W. North. They came into the season ranked fifth in the Southern Section Division 3 preseason coaches’ poll and have shown they belong.

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Richardson leads ECR over Colony

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
11:12
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WOODLAND HILLS -- The similarities between Julian Richardson and his father, former UCLA star and NBA veteran Pooh Richardson, are many. Both on and off the court.

With his dad watching from the stands Wednesday, the younger Richardson gave spectators at El Camino Real High a glimpse of how the apple does not fall far from the tree in a Southern California Regional playoff game.

[+] EnlargeJulian Richardson
Sean Ceglinsky for ESPNLA.comJulian Richardson, son of former UCLA star Pooh Richardson, had a big second half to lead El Camino Real to a win in the state tournament.
The up-and-coming sophomore guard scored 13 of his 23 points in the third quarter to help guide the Conquistadors to a 71-63 come-from-behind victory over visiting Ontario Colony in a Division II first-round game. Richardson also finished with five rebounds and two assists.

“I don't feel any added pressure, my dad has always taught me to be my own man,'' Richardson said. “He has been supportive and it's great having him around. I try to be a sponge and soak up some of his knowledge. He has helped me out with my game a lot over the years.''

That was apparent in the second half after Richardson got off to a particularly slow start for El Camino Real (24-7). Trailing by seven points at intermission, the 6-foot-3 underclassman heated up quick and scored 13 points over a six-minute stretch of the third quarter.

As a result, Colony (22-10) led 50-48 to start the fourth quarter.

Richardson got to work in the paint down the stretch. He was fouled multiple times and his handful of free throws helped the Conquistadors complete the comeback.

“My time is done on the basketball court, it's fun for me to sit back and watch my son play now,'' Pooh Richardson said. “You always want the best for your kids and I never told him that he had to follow in my footsteps. He does his own thing and I'm proud of him.''

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I.E.: Boys' basketball top 10

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
9:32
PM PT
None of the Inland Empire's ranked teams survived to make the championship round last weekend. The final hopes, Etiwanda, Elsinore and Colony each lost in the semifinals but still earned berths into the Southern California Regional playoffs.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 29-2: If there were no such things as Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei, the Eagles might have won five straight Southern Section titles, but they were beat by Poly in the Division 1AA semifinals for the second straight year Tuesday.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 20-8: The Eagles stayed with Poly for three quarters in the Division 1AA quarterfinals, but couldn’t get over a 40-point, 15-rebound effort from Roschon Prince in the 77-67 loss.

3. (3) Elsinore, 27-4: The fifth-seeded Tigers couldn’t get past Mayfair in the semifinals and missed a shot at their first championship appearance since 1974.

4. (4) Colony, 22-9: The Titans found their way back to the semifinals of Division 2A after an upset against second-seeded Compton in the quarterfinals but they couldn’t get past Righetti and lost, 68-63.

5. (5) Murrieta Valley, 25-3: A loss to Righetti in another Division 2A quarterfinal ended the season a little sooner than expected for the Nighthawks, who came in seeded third in the division.

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L.A. North: Taft earns No. 3 seed in CIF State boys basketball playoffs

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
9:32
PM PT
The Woodland Hills Taft boys basketball, fresh off winning its second City Section Division 1 championship in a row, is the No. 3 seed in the CIF State Division I Southern California Regional tournament and will play Clovis West on Wednesday night.

Taft (29-3), the No. 5 team in the ESPN Los Angeles basketball rankings, beat Dorsey, 58-42, in the City Section title game at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday.

Clovis West (22-6) is the Central Section Division 1 runner-up. The Golden Eagles lost to Bullard, 69-55, in the championship game.

The Crescenta Valley boys basketball team earned the No. 16 seed and will take on top-seeded Mater Dei in the first round of the Division I Southern California Regional.

Crescenta Valley (26-7) lost to Mission Viejo in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 1A playoffs.

Mater Dei (29-2), the No. 1 team in the ESPN Los Angeles basketball rankings, won the Southern Section Division 1AA championship, 63-59, over Long Beach Poly.

The El Camino Real boys basketball team is the No. 8 seed in the Division II Southern California Regional and will play Colony from Ontario in the first round.

El Camino Real (18-7) won the City Section Division 2 championship, 62-53, over Garfield on Friday night. Colony (22-9) reached the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 2A playoffs and lost, 68-65, to Righetti.

La Costa Canyon (31-2) from the San Diego Section is the No. 1 seed in the Southern California Regional Division II playoffs.

Alemany (28-4) is the top seed in the Division III Southern California Regional and will play Independence from Bakersfield in the first round.

Here is a look at the teams from the L.A. North region in the CIF Southern California Regional playoffs:

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I.E.: Boys' Basketball Top 10

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
4:37
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Heading into the final week of the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs and three top 10 teams remain alive.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 29-1: The third-seeded Eagles got what they hoped for, another rematch with Long Beach Poly in a Division 1AA semifinal Tuesday night at Anaheim Convention Center.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 20-8: The Eagles stayed with Poly for three quarters Friday night but couldn’t get over a 40-point, 15-rebound effort from Roschon Prince in the 77-67 loss.

3. (3) Elsinore, 27-3: The fifth-seeded Tigers knocked off No. 4 Leuzinger in a Division 2A quarterfinal Friday night, earning a berth in the semifinals and a shot at their first championship appearance since 1974.

4. (8) Colony, 22-8: The Titans always seem to find their way to the end and here they are again, in the semifinals of Division 2A after an upset Friday at second-seeded Compton.

5. (4) Murrieta Valley, 25-3: A loss to Righetti in another Division 2A quarterfinal ended the season a little sooner than expected for the Nighthawks, who came in seeded third in the division.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball playoff primer

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
4:30
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With the best Inland Empire boys’ basketball teams placed in the top four divisions of the Southern Section playoffs, here’s a rundown of what to look for beginning with Friday’s first-round games.

DIVISION 1AA

Background: The Inland Empire is well known in this division. The region has sent a representative to the championship game the last three years. Long Beach Poly beat Corona Centennial last season, Mater Dei toppled Etiwanda the year before and Riverside King upset Mater Dei in 2009.

Best Shot: If third-seeded Etiwanda is to continue that trend, the Eagles will likely need to find a way to beat second-seeded Long Beach Poly. They lost to the Jackrabbits in the Division 1AA semifinals last season and again nine days later in the second round of the SoCal Regional playoffs. There are few high school coaches who squeeze more out of their players than Dave Kleckner at Etiwanda, however.

Best first-round game: Highland at Silverado. A good old- fashioned high desert showdown as 11th-seeded Silverado brings a 16-game winning streak into the postseason. The Hawks will need to find a way to slow Highland senior guard Joseph Prince, who is averaging 23.4 points. Prince, who played the last two seasons at Glenbrook North High in Northbrook, Ill., scored a season-high 37 points in the regular-season finale last week against Lancaster.

Darkhorse: Rancho Verde didn’t land on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Mater Dei, so that can already be considered a victory. In the last three seasons, the Mustangs lost all four postseason meetings against Mater Dei, with three losses in the section playoffs and another in the SoCal Regionals. Rancho Verde is seeded 10th and drew a good challenge in the opener against visiting Montclair. A possible second-round game against seventh-seeded Eisenhower looms.

DIVISION 1A

Background: A team from the I.E. has qualified for the semifinals in this division the last three seasons, Redlands East Valley a year ago, Colony in 2010 and Chino Hills in 2009. In the last final appearance by an I.E. team, Riverside King beat Etiwanda in the 2008 championship game at Honda Center.

Best Shot: The I.E.’s streak of semifinalists could be in serious jeopardy. The highest-seeded teams in this division are No. 7 Chino Hills and No. 10 Vista Murrieta, and they would meet in the second round should they win their openers. The good thing is, one I.E. team would be guaranteed a trip to the quarterfinals.

Best first-round game: Corona at Arroyo Valley. Both these teams have held their own against good competition this season. Corona tied for fifth in the highly competitive Big VIII League and Arroyo Valley finished runner up in the San Andreas League, losing both games to league champion Cajon by a combined six points.

Darkhorse: Vista Murrieta has shown it can reach up and bite a good team if they’re not paying attention. The Broncos beat Murrieta Valley by 13 points in a Southwestern League game last month and the Nighthawks are seeded third in Division 2A. Davin Guinn, a 6-5 senior forward for Vista Murrieta, is one of the top players in the division. He matched his season high with 32 points in the rematch against Murrieta Valley last week.

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I.E.: Boys basketball top 10

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
11:53
PM PT
None of the top 10 teams dropped a game last week, leaving things intact heading into the Southern Section playoffs beginning Friday.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 26-1: Dominique Walker, a 6-3 senior guard, scored a career-high 19 points Thursday night in a 70-64 victory against Rancho Cucamonga in a Baseline League finale. Next: Friday vs. San Clemente in a Division 1AA first-round game.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 18-7: There might be some debate which is the second-best team in the Inland Empire but there’s no arguing who’s the best team in the Citrus Belt League after the Eagles completed their third consecutive undefeated run. Next: Friday vs. Montebello in a Division 1AA first-round game.

3. (3) Elsinore, 24-3: After their close call against Perris the week before, the Tigers completed their third-straight undefeated run through Sunbelt League play with one-sided victories against Heritage and Paloma Valley. Next: Friday vs. Patriot in a Division 2A first-round game.

4. (4) Murrieta Valley, 23-2: The Nighthawks earned payback against Vista Murrieta with a 71-48 victory Tuesday and also clinched their second consecutive outright Southwestern League title. Vista Murrieta handed Murrieta Valley its only blemish in league play with a 13-point win Jan. 19. Next: Friday vs. Chino in a Division 2A first-round game.

5. (5) J.W. North, 21-5: The Huskies couldn’t beat Riverside Poly in Big VIII League play but beat everyone else en route to a 12-2 record and first place in the Inland Empire’s toughest league. Poly finished second at 9-5. Next: Friday vs. Simi Valley in a Division 2AA first-round game.

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I.E.: Mt. Baldy League title to be settled

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
1:50
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Heading into the final couple days of the boys’ basketball regular season, every league title in the Inland Empire has been clinched by an outright champion, except one.

That will be settled tonight when Colony hosts Montclair in a Mt. Baldy League final at 6:30 p.m.

The Titans are 18-8 overall and 10-1 in league play. Montclair is 21-3 and 9-2. Also still in the mix is Don Lugo at 19-6, 10-2. The Conquistadors wrapped up their regular season Tuesday with a 65-51 victory at Chaffey. A win by Montclair tonight and the league title will be shared by all three.

Don Lugo would have wrapped up a share of the league title and Montclair would be out of the hunt if not for Don Lugo’s forfeit of a two-point victory Jan. 9 against Montclair. The Conquistadors were penalized for using a player who was supposed to be serving a one-game suspension after getting ejected the previous game, a two-point victory against Colony.

Colony came back to beat Don Lugo in the rematch, and Don Lugo toppled Montclair in their second meeting, setting the stage for tonight’s showdown.

The Titans will have added motivation, as it was Montclair who last season ended Colony’s 59-game unbeaten streak in league play.

I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

February, 5, 2012
2/05/12
10:53
PM PT
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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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
9:31
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A couple of more sizable upsets in the Inland Empire league last week, one that cost a low desert team a spot in these rankings and another that put a well-known program on the brink of joining the ‘dropped out’ club. Last week's results also opened the door for a high desert team to make its debut in the top 10, and a Mt. Baldy League team to return.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 22-1: The Eagles just keep getting better and better. They ran over Rancho Cucamonga and Glendora in Baseline League play last week, then roared back from a slim halftime deficit Saturday night to beat Damien, 64-45, at Azusa Pacific. Next: Tuesday @ Upland.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 14-6: Marvelle Harris continues to leave an impression on the I.E. The 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard put up 33 points in a 41-point blowout against Fontana last week, but more impressive was the 23 he scored Friday night in a 79-61 victory against Yucaipa in another Citrus Belt League game. Next: Wednesday vs. AB. Miller.

3. (8) J.W. North, 17-4: The Huskies are back where many expect they belong, owning a two-game lead in the Big VIII League with five games to play. They won their lone game last week, beating up on defending champion Corona Centennial, 73-38 Next: Monday @ Riverside Poly.

4. (4) Elsinore, 20-3: The Tigers went 3-0 last week, starting off with a trip deep into South Orange County for a 77-70 victory Monday against Aliso Niguel. They came back two days later and won at Paloma Valley in a Sunbelt League game, then beat visiting Lakeside in another league game. Next: Wednesday @ Temescal Canyon.

5. (5) Murrieta Valley, 19-2: Jackson Helms, a 6-6 senior forward, scored a season-high 20 points Friday night in a 72-54 victory against Temecula Valley in Southwestern League play, helping the Nighthawks finish 2-0 during the week and erase the memory of a tough loss against Vista Murrieta the week before. Next: Tuesday @ Great Oak.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball top 10

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
9:48
AM PT
The top seven teams from last week’s rankings went unbeaten, while the Big VIII League did some reshuffling as J.W. North reemerged as the team to beat.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 17-1: Sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin continues to be the model of consistency, scoring 21 points in a 56-35 win at Glendora and 20 in a 61-43 victory against visiting Upland. Next: Tuesday vs. Los Osos.

2. (2) Murrieta Valley, 16-1: The Nighthawks opened Southwestern League play with victories last week against Temecula Valley and Great Oak. Reid Shackelford was the high scorer of the week with 25 points Thursday against Great Oak. Next: Tuesday vs. Murrieta Mesa.

3. (3) Elsinore, 13-2: The Tigers opened Sunbelt League play Wednesday with a 68-47 victory against Lakeside. E.J. Twyman and Lawrence Chamberlain scored 24 points each for Elsinore, which came back to defeat Temescal Canyon on Friday. Next: Monday vs. Leuzinger at St. Bernard HS.

4. (4) Eisenhower, 9-6: The Eagles are off to a 2-0 start in Citrus Belt League play after downing Yucaipa (59-48) and A.B. Miller (74-39) last week. Marvelle Harris scored 22 of his game-high 27 points in the first half Friday night against Miller. Next: Monday vs. Ayala at Los Osos HS.

5. (5) Summit, 13-6: Isaiah Taylor was the high scorer in victories last week against visiting Jurupa Valley and Bloomington. The 6-1 senior guard scored 22 in the 74-54 victory Wednesday against Jurupa Valley and 27 on Friday in the 87-43 win against Bloomington. Next: Wednesday at Norte Vista.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 8, 2012
1/08/12
6:26
PM PT
Six weeks into the boys’ basketball season and the cream has risen to the top. Etiwanda and Murrieta Valley have been no surprise with their results thus far, but a few teams have emerged from the woodpile to steal a piece of the spotlight.

1. Etiwanda, 15-1 – The Eagles have won 12 straight since a loss to LaVerne Lutheran, the state’s sixth-ranked team by ESPN coming into the season. Etiwanda won the Inland Empire Classic and Holiday Hardwood Classic, then beat L.A. Crenshaw on Saturday at the The Great Inland Empire Shootout at Eisenhower High. Next: at Glendora, Tuesday.

2. Murrieta Valley, 14-1 – The Nighthawks are off to another blistering start after beating Elsinore to win the Nighthawk Classic at Murrieta Valley and Sierra Canyon to win the Mayor’s Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. Next: at Temecula Valley, Tuesday.

3. Elsinore, 13-2 – The Tigers are the only team to beat Murrieta Valley this season, scoring a seven-point victory 10 days after losing to the Nighthawks at their own tournament. They also captured the Paloma Valley Winter Shootout with a nine-point win against Vista Murrieta. Next: at Lakeside, Wednesday.

4. Eisenhower, 7-6 – The Eagles have played one of the tougher schedules among I.E. teams thus far, losing to Etiwanda by 21 and nine points but defeating local juggernauts Summit, Rancho Verde and Upland. Next: vs. Yucaipa, Wednesday.

5. Summit, 11-6 – The SkyHawks also experienced a pair of losses at the hands of Etiwanda’s unrelenting man-to-man defense. They took care of business in victories against Cajon, Riverside King and Visa Murrieta. Narrow losses to Murrieta Mesa and Colony are keeping Summit out of the top five. Next: vs. Jurupa Valley, Wednesday.

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Big VIII, Mojave River, Mt. Baldy

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
3:27
PM PT
BIG VIII LEAGUE

Where they stand: Each team played a league game in mid-December. They resume play tonight with the following schedule: J.W. North @ Corona Centennial; Corona Santiago @ Norco; Corona @ Riverside King; Roosevelt @ Riverside Poly.

Last year’s finish: Centennial (14-0); Roosevelt (12-2); Corona (8-6); J.W. North (7-7); Santiago (6-8); Poly (5-9); King (3-11); Norco (1-13).

Players to watch: Aaron Peck (J.W. North), 6-4, Sr., F; Dorian Butler (J.W. North), 6-5, Jr., F; Marcus Baugh (J.W. North), 6-5, Jr., F; Deshon Taylor (J.W. North), 6-0, So., G; Sam Finley (Centennial), 6-2, Jr., G; Sedrick Barefield (Centennial), 6-0, Fr., G; Dorion Barnett (Santiago), 6-3, Jr., F; Alex Blumenfeld (Santiago), 6-0, Sr., G; Marcos Hazelwood (Corona), 6-1, Sr., F; Jeremiah Abdelmeesh (Norco), 6-2, Sr., F; Kendall Brown (Roosevelt), 6-4, Sr., G; Jalen Young (Roosevelt), 6-5, Sr., G; Shawn Joseph (Roosevelt), 6-3, Sr., G; Noah Prouse (Poly), 6-6, Sr., F; Jeff Gonzalez (Poly), 6-6, Sr., F; Brandon Pippenger (King), 6-8, Sr., C; Nikko Turner (King), 5-8, Sr., G; Mark Wilson (King), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: J.W. North, King, Poly, Centennial, Corona, Roosevelt, Santiago, Norco.

MOJAVE RIVER LEAGUE

Where they stand: Already tightly bunched after a handful of MRL games in mid-December, league play resumes tonight with Oak Hills @ Hesperia and Apple Valley @ Sultana. Serrano plays Friday @ Hesperia.

Last year’s finish: Sultana (10-2); Oak Hills (9-3); Hesperia (5-7); Serrano (6-7); Apple Valley (1-11).

Players to watch Daaron Flagg (Sultana), 6-4, Sr., G; Robmar Porter (Sultana), 6-4, Sr., F; Brian Enriquez (Sultana), 6-2, So., G; Chrishtian Buttler (Sultana), 5-9, Sr., G, Denzel McCloney (Serrano), 6-0, Sr., G; Timmall Thomas (Serrano), 5-10, Jr., G; Daniel Davis (Oak Hills), 6-4, Sr., F; J.T. Roach (Apple Valley), 6-3, Jr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Sultana, Oak Hills, Serrano, Apple Valley, Hesperia.

MT. BALDY LEAGUE

Where they stand: Half the teams got a head start on league play before the holidays. They all play Friday night, with Don Lugo @ Colony, Chino @ Chaffey and Garey @ Montclair.

Last year’s finish: Colony (11-1); Montclair (10-2); Ontario (8-5); Don Lugo (7-5); Garey (4-8); Chino (1-11); Chaffey (1-11).

Players to watch: Miles Poullard (Colony), 6-2, Sr., G; Everett Turner (Colony), 6-0, Jr., G; Devyn Sampson (Montclair), 6-3, Sr., G; Bobby Talamantes (Montclair), 5-9, Sr., G; Jody Smith (Montclair), 6-1, Jr., G; Marciano Rogers (Ontario), 6-3, Sr., G; Devonte Turner (Ontario), 6-3, Sr., G; Eric Ortiz (Ontario), 6-1, Sr., G; Josh Thompson (Don Lugo), 6-4, Sr., G; Jon Garnica (Chino), 6-1, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Colony, Montclair, Ontario, Don Lugo, Chino, Garey, Chaffey.

Up next: Baseline, Mountain Pass and Southwestern leagues.

I.E.: The final Top 10

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
12:18
AM PT
Well, that’s a wrap on the 2011 high school football season. The Inland Empire is certainly more respected than ever for what it accomplished this fall, beating Pac-5 Division foes Mission Viejo, Alemany, Crespi, Loyola, Tesoro and Mater Dei. They also staged a few memorable matchups against each other, none better than Vista Murrieta’s 35-28 come-from-behind victory against defending champion Corona Centennial in the Inland Division championship game. Here’s a look at the final top 10 of the season.

1. Vista Murrieta, 9-5 – The Broncos went undefeated on the field, beating state-ranked J.W. North, Upland and Centennial in the final three rounds of the Inland Division playoffs. Vista Murrieta self-reported an ineligible player prior to Southwestern League play -- a player who would quickly become eligible --leading to the forfeiture of all five nonleague victories. Many believe the Broncos deserved a state bowl bid but were passed up in favor of two-loss Santa Margarita, largely due to their forfeits. Vista Murrieta will be an early favorite to make the trip next season, as its best player, running back/strong safety Su’a Cravens, is set to return, as well as quarterback Nicholas Stevens and middle linebacker Bryce Smith, the Inland Division’s leading tackler.

2. Corona Centennial, 12-2 – Before the season, Centennial coach Matt Logan said the Huskies would need four or five games to find their footing. Try six quarters. The Huskies won 12 straight after their season-opening loss to St. Bonaventure, all but one by a wide margin. They quickly developed chemistry between a veteran offensive line and first-year senior starters Hayden Gavett at quarterback and Romello Goodman at running back and churned out yardage like past seasons. They came up one drive short against Vista Murrieta, however.

3. Upland, 12-1 – For most of the season, the Highlanders seemed like the front runner to unseat Centennial, but they ran into the same Vista Murrieta storm as the Huskies and saw their run end with a 39-18 semifinal loss. Still, they opened plenty of eyes with a 38-23 nonleaguue victory against L.A. private-school power Loyola and another one-sided victory against Baseline League foe Rancho Cucamonga.

4. Rancho Cucamonga, 11-2 – With 14 starters back from a team that lost in double overtime of the 2010 Inland Division semifinals, the Cougars came into this season ranked No. 2 in the ESPNLA Inland Empire preseason rankings. They weren’t as prepared as Upland and lost that clash, but got off the mat to beat fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley in the Inland Division quarterfinals and then put a scare into top-seeded Centennial in the semis before ultimately losing, 41-21.

5. Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – Give the Wildcats credit for turning the national spotlight on the I.E. in Week 5 with their 10-7 victory against nationally ranked Mission Viejo. They went on to finish the regular season undefeated but fell back into their habit of losing early in the playoffs. A nonleague victory against City Section-power Dorsey also stands bright on their resume.

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