Los Angeles Preps: Corona

Baseball D1: Newbury Park 2, Corona 1

June, 1, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- Newbury Park’s Luke Eubank has been hard to hit all season. He was especially tough in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship game at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

He gave up only three hits, struck out eight, and beat Corona, 2-1, to win the first CIF championship for Newbury Park since 1968.

Coming into the championship game, Eubank (11-0) had a 1.01 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched. He also had pitched three no-hitters.

Eubank pitched a masterful complete game against Corona. He was perfect through the first three innings. He gave up a run in the fourth inning, then retired the last 11 batters he faced.

“Luke throws a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Newbury Park coach Matt Goldfield said. “After Luke got through that inning, he battled, battled, battled. I know he was a little bit tired, but I wasn’t taking him out, believe me.”

Corona starter Pat Duarte was nearly as effective as Eubank. He gave up only seven hits in six innings and struck out three with no walks.

But he ran into trouble in the third inning.

Nick Lovullo led off the inning with a double into left field. He reached third base when the left fielder misplayed the ball in the corner.

Taylor Zander knocked in Lovullo with a one-out double. Ricky Davis followed with another RBI double to give Newbury Park a 2-0 lead.

But that was about all the offense Newbury Park (20-14) could muster off of Duarte.

(Read full post)

North: Five things from the weekend

May, 29, 2012
  1. Westlake defensive back Dashon Hunt picked up his ninth scholarship offer. Boise State joined the fray. Hunt, who will be a senior in the fall, has verbally declared to UCLA, but is still receiving offers from other colleges. He is the 12th ranked defensive back in the country by ESPNU. He has received offers from USC, Washington and Colorado among others. “I’m keeping my options wide open for any college that shows me interest at this point,” Hunt said in a text message.
  2. The Mira Costa boys volleyball team won the Southern California Regional Division II championship in five games over Oak Park at Irvine Valley College. Mira Costa, ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN HS, won its second regional championship in the past three years. Oak Park won the first game, 26-24, then dropped the next two. Mira Costa lost the fourth game, again by a score of 26-24, before winning the fifth game, 20-18. Mira Costa’s Christopher Orenic had a match-high 33 kills. Justin Parks had 23 kills and 12 digs for Oak Park. Oak Park won the Southern Section Division II championship and made its first appearance in the Southern California Regional playoffs.
  3. The Windward boys volleyball team won the Southern California Regional Division III championship, sweeping Campbell Hall in the title match. Windward’s Ryan Manoogian had 12 kills and eight digs to lead his team. Robert Cavanaugh recorded 26 assists and had trouble finding a flow in the Campbell Hall attack. Campbell Hall reached the semifinals of the Southern Section Division IV playoffs and lost to Santa Monica.
  4. Only one seeded team remains in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Mater Dei from Santa Ana, the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, takes on Newbury Park tonight in the semifinals at Blair Field at Long Beach State. Mater Dei is coming of a 5-2 win over Esperanza in the quarterfinals. Newbury Park, behind ace Luke Eubank, eliminated Saugus, 7-3, in their quarterfinal game. West Ranch plays Corona in the other semifinal at Blair Field at 4 today. West Ranch upset top-seeded Orange Lutheran, 5-4, in the quarterfinals. Corona, a wild-card team from the Big VIII League, has won four playoff games in a row and eliminated El Dorado, 7-4, in the quarterfinals. No. 3 seed JW North lost to Saugus, 7-4, in the second round. Third-seeded Long Beach Poly lost to Huntington Beach, 2-1, in the first round.
  5. San Fernando, the reigning City Section Division I champion, is still alive in the playoffs. The third-seeded Tigers play second-seeded Chatsworth in the semifinals at USC on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Neither team has allowed a run in the playoffs. San Fernando shut out Granada Hills, 3-0, in the first round, then ousted Birmingham, 2-0, in the quarterfinals. Chatsworth blanked Bell, 6-0, in the first round and Woodland Hills Taft, 11-0, in the quarterfinals. Top-seeded El Camino Real plays fourth-seeded San Pedro in the other semifinal at USC. El Camino Real beat Verdugo Hills, 5-1, to reach the semifinals. San Pedro beat Kennedy, 5-4, in the quarterfinals.
The two teams from the Marmonte League won their wild-card games in the CIF Southern Section Division I baseball playoffs.

The two teams from the Foothill League lost.

Moorpark shut out Milikan, 3-0, in their wild-card game and advanced to the next round against top-seeded Orange Lutheran.

Simi Valley eliminated Hart, 7-4. Spencer Dubaich had four strikeouts and no walks for Simi Valley, which plays Esperanza next.

Valencia lost to Corona, 3-0. Corona starter Daniel Pena tossed a two-hitter and struck out six. The Panthers play Camarillo on Friday.

Here is a look at the wild-card results in the Southern Section baseball playoffs:

(Read full post)

Corona shuts out Valencia in wild-card round

May, 16, 2012

VALENCIA -- Corona starter Daniel Pena showed no fear going up against Valencia, one of the best-hitting clubs in high school baseball.

Pena tossed a two-hitter and held the top-four hitters in the Valencia lineup to one walk and no hits in a 3-0 shutout in the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 baseball playoffs on Tuesday.

Trey Williams, Keston Hiura, Brian Mundell and AJ Balta combined to go 0-for-11 with four strikeouts against Pena.

“We have a ton of respect for those guys,” Corona coach Andy Wise said. “Coming in, we knew what we were dealing with. At the same time, Pena has outstanding stuff. It’s not like we were going pitch around these guys, try to trick them or anything. We were going to come right after them and challenge them with Pena’s stuff. It worked out in our favor. He put it to them a little bit.”

Balta was the only one of the four to reach base against Pena. He drew a lead-off walk in the second inning. Designated hitter Kyle Sanchez followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and second with no outs. But Valencia (19-9) squandered the scoring opportunity and Pena struck out Cody McAfee and Johnny Ives to end the threat.

“Baseball’s not a forgiving game,” Valencia coach Jared Snyder said. “We didn’t have many chances. That kid pitched so well, we didn’t have many chances. The chances that we did have, we just did not execute. We didn’t execute.”

Corona scored all three of its runs in the third inning. Cole Young delivered a two-run, two-out single. Adrian Marmolejo put Corona on the board with a run-scoring single.

Valencia starter JD Busfield gave up only four hits and had five strikeouts in five innings. Chris Gimenez came in to relieve Busfield in the sixth and pitched two shutout innings. But they were no match for Pena.

“The kid just three pitches for strikes all game long,” Snyder said. “What do you do? The kid threw a two-hitter. He would have two-hit anybody today. I’m proud of my two pitchers. My two pitchers pitched great too.”

Corona (15-14) will play Camarillo on Friday, another long road trip for the Panthers.

“We’ve been fantastic on the road,” Wise said. “We’ve struggled mightily at home and we’ve done great on the road. We were actually happy to come on the road today. Not that we were looking forward to playing Valencia, they are a quality program and we knew we were going to have our hands full, but we really like going on the road. We’re really looking forward to going out to Camarillo.”

I.E: Final boys basketball top 10

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

York helps OLu fend off Corona

February, 24, 2012

ORANGE -- The game was in the bag. All that separated third-seeded Orange Lutheran from reaching the Southern Section Division 1A semifinals was eight minutes.

And what an eight minutes it was.

For Corona.

Down by 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Panthers pulled to within five points -- a couple of easy 3-pointers for the long-distance assassins -- with 74 seconds remaining before Gabe York did his thing once again. York's free-throw shooting salvaged the night and Orange Lutheran scored a 79-70 victory on its home floor.

OLu will play host in the semifinals against second-seeded Capistrano Valley, a 67-55 winner at Vista Murrieta. Top-seeded Mission Viejo also won, winning 81-77 in overtime at Valencia West Ranch. Fourth-seeded Crescenta Valley won at home against fifth-seeded El Toro, 61-49, in the other quarterfinal.

York, an Arizona-bound guard, finished the night with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He had 19 points at halftime and the Lancers (19-10) had a 62-42 lead after three quarters, but the team's shooting went cold and the play got sloppy. It wasn't until 3:10 remained in the game that York's drive to the basket netted the first field goal of the quarter for Lutheran, which made only 2-of-8 field goals in the period.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Boys' basketball playoff primer

February, 16, 2012
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.


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.


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.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

I.E.: Boys' basketball top 10

January, 16, 2012
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.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 8, 2012
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.

(Read full post)

Big VIII, Mojave River, Mt. Baldy

January, 4, 2012

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.


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.


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.: A closer look at the Big VIII League

August, 10, 2011

Last season’s results: Corona Centennial (14-1, 7-0); Roosevelt (9-3, 5-2); Norco (9-3, 5-2); Corona (5-6, 3-4); Corona Santiago (4-6, 3-4); Riverside King (4-6, 2-5); Riverside North (2-8, 2-5); Riverside Poly (3-7, 1-6).

Players to watch: The strength of Centennial lies in the trenches this season, and Milo Jordan can take much of that credit. He was the league’s defensive co-most valuable player last season after helping the Huskies win the Inland Division title and advance to the Division 1 state bowl championship game. Jordan committed to Arizona State in June. Also returning to the Huskies’ defensive front is Ngata Tuihalamaka, who led the Huskies with 4 sacks last season. Centennial also returns three offensive linemen, led by senior tackle Lio Lafaele. Norco also returns most of its young offensive line from a season ago, as well as sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart. But no doubt the marquee player is outside linebacker Scott Starr, who committed to USC shortly after he was offered last spring. North should also improve behind senior quarterback/defensive back Justin Gheorghe, who was a first-team all-Big VIII selection on offense and defense last season. Gheorghe tasted success last spring as an outfielder for the North baseball team, which won the SS-Division 1 title at Dodger Stadium. Roosevelt, Santiago and Poly should also benefit from the return of their starting quarterbacks. Aaron Crone of Roosevelt threw for a league-leading 23 touchdown passes last season, Santiago junior Michael Darr averaged a league-best 206.1 passing yards a game and Steven Hamm returns behind center for Poly. Santiago might have the league's best offensive linemen in Isaiah Folasa, who committed to UCLA last month. Garry Lewis of Corona looks like the league’s best athlete. The senior wide receiver had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) at the Nike SPARQ Combine last spring in Long Beach.

Projected order of finish: Centennial, Norco, North, Santiago, Roosevelt, Poly, Corona, King.

Key games: Sept. 9 – Ventura St. Bonaventure @ Centennial; Los Angeles Crenshaw @ Norco; Sept. 16 – Centennial vs. Mater Dei @ Santa Ana Stadium; Sept. 23 – Upland @ Norco, Temecula Chaparral @ Centennial, North @ Fontana Kaiser; Sept. 30 – Norco @ Roosevelt; Oct. 7 – North @ Centennial, Santiago @ Norco; Oct. 14 – North vs. Poly @ Riverside College, Centennial @ Santiago; Oct. 21 – Norco @ Centennial; Oct. 27 – Santiago vs. North @ Riverside College; Nov. 4 – Centennial @ Roosevelt; Nov. 10 – Santiago @ Roosevelt; Nov. 11 – North @ Norco.

Alumni in the NFL: Lonie Paxton, Denver Broncos (Centennial ’96); Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings (Norco ’06); Heath Farwell, Minnesota Vikings (Corona ’00).

Fast fact: Centennial and Norco are intense rivals in the Inland Empire but a number of former players have gone on to become close teammates at Arizona State. Seven Centennial grads are listed on the 2011 roster, including four potential starters on defense, led by last season’s Pac-10 Defensive MVP, linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Norco boasts six players on the Sun Devils roster, led by Garth Gerhart, the brother of Coltin and Toby Gerhart, considered one of the top centers in the NCAA.

On the clock: Citrus Belt League

Inland Empire: Quick look at the softball playoffs

May, 16, 2011

Seeded I.E. teams:

Div. 1 – No. 2 Etiwanda, No. 3 Corona Santiago.

Div. 2 – No. 1 Chino Don Lugo, No. 3 Chino.

Div. 3 – No. 4 Chino Hills.

Div. 4 – No. 1 San Bernardino Aquinas.

Div. 5 – No. 2 Beaumont.

Div. 6 – No. 3 Citrus Valley.

Div. 7 – None.

Best wild-card games Tuesday:

Div. 1 – Corona at Temecula Great Oak. Corona finished fifth in the Big VIII League and should match up well against Great Oak, who beat the Panthers, 3-1, on March 14. The Wolfpack won their final four games to solidify the third place in the Southwestern League. Sophomore pitcher Hannah Dewey is 16-6 with a 2.87 ERA, including a seven-hitter in the victory against Corona.

Div. 2 – San Bernardino at Ontario. Sabrina Garcia will likely get the start in the pitcher’s circle for San Bernardino. She’s 12-7 with a 2.44 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 132 innings. Garcia is also hitting a team-high .343 with 14 RBIs.

Div. 3 – Redondo at Romoland Heritage. The Patriots reached the Division 5 semifinals two seasons ago and senior pitcher Bethany Slick remains their ace. Redondo enters the playoffs on a three-game losing streak but the Sea Hawks come from a very competitive league.

Div. 4 – Palm Springs at Phelan Serrano. Palm Springs pitcher Nicole Clements is 13-9 with a 1.63 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 142 innings. She’s also batting a team-high .535 with two home runs and 23 RBIs. Serrano won the Hemet Tahquitz tournament last month, knocking off Palm Desert in the championship game, 10-0.

Div. 5 – Montebello at Victorville Silverado. The Hawks enter the playoffs on a four-game losing streak with cost them a chance at the Desert Sky League. Silverado will likely continue to lean on the pitching arm of Alexis Conant, who is 10-5 with a 4.17 ERA.

Div. 6 – Twentynine Palms at Mojave. Julia Cullinan, a sophomore at Mojave, was second in the Southern Section with a .705 batting average. She also hit 10 home runs and was the team’s top pitcher with a 7-4 record. Twentynine Palms enters the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak.

Div. 7 – La Verne Calvary Baptist at Wildomar California Lutheran. Miranda Romero of California Lutheran batted .603 with nine home runs during the regular season.

Check back Wednesday for a preview of the top first-round games.

Inland Empire: Scores and more from boys basketball playoffs

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Boys basketball games of the week

February, 3, 2011
Upland (14-9, 3-4) at Etiwanda (23-1, 7-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – With the return of last season’s Baseline League co-MVP John Gilliam, who would have thought Upland would be scrambling for a playoff spot heading into the last two weeks of the regular season? But the Highlanders have dropped four of their last six league games and face a tough stretch run.

Rialto Eisenhower (14-7) vs. Los Angeles Fairfax (14-8) at Santa Ana Mater Dei, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Eisenhower coach Steve Johnson said last month that he planned to use this Nike Extravaganza game as a measuring stick to find out how far his team has progressed. The Eagles lost to Fairfax, 56-33, on Dec. 21, the start of four losses in five games, but seem to have righted the ship. Ontario Colony is also entered in the showcase. The Titans play Huntington Beach Ocean View at 11 a.m.

Big Bear (15-7, 6-2) at Twentynine Palms (16-6, 7-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Twentynine Palms senior forward Zach Hill went for a season-high 22 points in leading the visiting Wildcats to a 59-54 victory against Big Bear three weeks ago in their first DeAnza League meeting. One more and they’ll clinch at least a share of the league title. A loss will likely create a three-way tie for first with Desert Hot Springs (13-9, 6-2).

Eastvale Roosevelt (15-5, 9-1) at Corona (15-6, 7-3) – Corona led by six points entering the fourth quarter when these teams met Jan. 10 but ended up losing, 57-49. Much of Roosevelt’s damage in that game was done by junior guard Shawn Joseph, who scored a season-high 17 points. With a win, the Mustangs can lock up at least second place in the Big VIII League and remain within a game of first-place Corona Centennial (19-3, 10-0).

Redlands Adventist (16-4, 9-2) at Bloomington Christian (16-6, 10-1), Tonight, 6 p.m. –In this small-school special, second place will be on the line in the Victory League. Redlands Adventist is ranked second in Division 6A, and Bloomington Christian is No. 15 in Division 5A. Bloomington Christian won the first meeting, 51-37. Bermuda Dunes Desert Christian Academy sits in first at 17-2, 11-0.

Looking ahead:

San Bernardino vs. San Bernardino Cajon at Cardinal City Arena, Monday, 7:30 p.m.