Los Angeles Preps: Division 4AA

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."

(Read full post)

Lutheran holds off Crespi in semis

February, 24, 2012

LA VERNE -- As his team scrambled on defense in the final seconds, La Verne Lutheran basketball coach Eric Cooper's heart didn't skip one beat. Or so he says.

Cooper has seen late-game theatrics far too often this season to be fazed by another frantic finish, but he might be due for a trip to the cardiologist in the offseason after Friday night's thriller at the University of La Verne.

McDonald's All-American forward Grant Jerrett missed two free throws with 14 seconds remaining, and Crespi raced to the other end looking for the tie or the win. Michael Milligan's runner didn't fall, Jerrett grabbed the rebound and heaved the ball into the air, securing a 51-49 victory and a trip to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA championship game for a meeting against top-seeded Gardena Serra at Anaheim Arena. The date and time is scheduled to be announced Monday.

It was the second consecutive nail-biter for two-time defending state champion Lutheran (24-6), which escaped with a 50-48 victory at Oaks Christian in the quarterfinals.

"It's been like that all season. We had a quadruple overtime game, two double overtime games," Cooper said smiling. "That's the type of season we've had. If Crespi would have made the last shot to send the game into overtime, it wouldn't have fazed me. That kind of stuff has been happening to us."

Jerrett, an Arizona signee, finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

"With Grant, you've always got a chance," Cooper said.

Sophomore point guard Brian Beard Jr. sank a desperation 3-pointer from about 40 feet out as the shot clock expired to give the second-seeded Trojans a seven-point lead with less than two minutes remaining. It grew to nine points with 1:10 left.

(Read full post)

Serra gets another shot at Price

February, 23, 2012
The top-seeded Gardena Serra boys' basketball team will have redemption on its mind when it takes the floor Friday night for a CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA semifinal matchup against fourth-seeded Price at Morningside High School.

The teams met in mid January and Serra (27-2) lost, 49-47, in controversial fashion when center Emmanual Ndumanya's game-tying shot at the buzzer was waved off. On video it appears as if Ndumanya got his shot off before time expired, but now the teams will get to settle it on the court. Second-seeded La Verne Lutheran (22-6) and Encino Crespi (23-6) meet in the other semifinal at the University of La Verne.

It was a game of runs last time, with Serra falling behind 22-4 before storming back with a 25-2 run. The lead reached 13 as Price (22-7) was held scoreless until late in the third quarter, but the Knights responded with an 11-0 spurt to start the fourth quarter.

"It's going to be another war," Price coach Michael Lynch said, "but we’re ready."

Price beats Windward a third time

February, 21, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Price boys' basketball coach Michael Lynch poked his head out the locker room door Tuesday night, peered down the hallway and, finally, cracked a smile that screamed relief.

After Price defeated visiting Windward, 76-62, for the third time this season, Lynch could finally exhale.

"It's incredibly tough to beat a team three times," Lynch said. "Windward coach [Miguel] Villegas is a really good coach and he’s got a good team. We knew we were in for a war. Really, I wouldn’t have scheduled them had I known what the divisions would be like."

Fourth-seeded Price (22-7) advanced to face top-seeded Gardena Serra in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA semifinals on Friday night, with the winner moving on to play the winner of Crespi-La Verne Lutheran in the title game at Anaheim Arena. The Knights had beaten Windward, 69-64, in the Santa Monica Tournament on Dec. 7 and again, 65-41, at the Fairfax State Preview Classic on Jan. 28.

But there was much at stake in the third meeting. Price's two prior victories would mean nothing without a third.

"Every time you play a team you want to pretend like it’s your first time playing them," said Price senior forward Skylar Spencer, who had 14 points and five blocks.

Teammate Kahlil Johnson scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, and put an exclamation point on the game with back-to-back breakaway dunks in the final moments. He sank two 3-pointers late in the first half to pace the Knights to a 37-32 lead at intermission.

"Kahlil is a shooter," Lynch said. "He can really shoot the basketball. Once he gets on a roll and feels it, the ball is going down."

The third time wasn't the charm for the Windward Wildcats (20-9). They closed to within two late in the third quarter despite the absence of leading scorer Nick Stover, who was whistled for his fourth foul just two minutes into the second half.

"At halftime we talked about [Stover] having three fouls," Lynch said. "We said, ‘Whoever he’s guarding, we’re going at him.’ The referees were calling the game pretty straight up on both sides. We knew they’d blow the whistle if we really attacked him."

Stover, a Loyola Marymount signee, finished with only 13 points, well below his average of 22 per game. Guard Jordan Wilson had 14, and Luke Silverman-Lloyd and Charles Dawson each had 10 for the Wildcats.

"We knew the third time would be the hardest," Johnson said. "And it was."

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

Boys' Division 4AA bracket unpredictable

February, 15, 2012
The boys' Division 4AA bracket promises to be the most competitive in the CIF-Southern Section basketball playoffs. Trying to pick a winner gets the head spinning.

For instance, take a look at some key regular-season results of fourth-seeded Los Angeles Price (19-7):

Price lost to third-seeded Bishop Montgomery, but Bishop Montgomery lost to top-seeded Gardena Serra twice in Del Rey League play. The problem? Price beat Serra when the teams met at the Cochran Classic.

That's not all.

Price fell to second-seeded La Verne Lutheran. But La Verne Lutheran, a two-time defending state champ, lost to fifth-seeded Windward. Yet Windward lost to Price two times. Are you dizzy yet?

Playoff games tip off tonight at 7 p.m. Here is the Division 4AA schedule:

Salesian at (1) Serra
Bosco Tech at (16) Workman
(10) JSerra at Laguna Beach
(8) Harvard-Westlake at Whitney
La Salle at (5) Windward
(11) Maranatha at Twentynine Palms
(13) Sherman Oaks Notre Dame at Paraclete
Blair at (4) Price

Templeton at (3) Bishop Montgomery
(14) Morningside at Victorville University Prep
(12) Sierra Canyon at Malibu
(6) Crespi at Rosamond
Besant Hill at (7) Oaks Christian
(9) Chaminade at Morro Bay
Banning at (15) Big Bear
(2) La Verne Lutheran at Pasadena Marshall

Report: Muir forfeits 20 games, misses playoffs

February, 13, 2012
The Muir boys' basketball team, which went 24-2 and won the Pacific League title for the first time in over a decade, missed the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs after forfeiting 20 games for using an ineligible player.

The school failed to prove a valid change of address for 6-foot-5 senior forward Andre Frazier, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

"We're shocked," Muir coach Gamal Smalley told the newspaper. "I know our administration worked really hard to make sure they could provide everything that CIF was asking for, and I thought they came close."

Frazier transferred last year from Fairfax, and also previously attended Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson and L.A. University.

As a result, nine-time league champion Pasadena, which came in second place in the Pacific League and received a No. 2 seeding in Division 3AAA, repeats as titlist.

South: Notable seeds for CIF-SS basketball playoffs

February, 12, 2012
Defending CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA champion Long Beach Poly received a No. 2 seeding in the boys' basketball bracket Sunday, a mere formality given that Mater Dei, the state's top-ranked squad, resides in the same division. The Jackrabbits (23-1) have maybe the best shot at unseating the Monarchs.

Poly opens postseason play with Riverside King on Friday at 7 p.m.

Loyola (21-4), the Mission League's second-place team, received a No. 4 seeding and opens against Trabuco Hills. Other south Los Angeles County schools receiving seeds in Division 1AA: Santa Monica (6), Downey (8) and Long Beach Jordan (14).

Notable seeds from the other divisions:
  • Division 4AA: Call this the "division of death." The seeds: No. 1 Gardena Serra (24-2); No. 2 La Verne Lutheran (19-6); No. 3 Bishop Montgomery (21-4); No. 4 L.A. Price (19-7); No. 5 Windward (18-8). First-round games will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m. Muir went 24-2 and won the Pacific League on the court but was disqualified from the playoffs for using an ineligible player. Muir will forfeit 20 wins.
  • Division 1A: Warren is the No. 13 seed, Walnut is No. 15.
  • Division 2A: No. 1 seed Mayfair (21-5), the Suburban League champion, hosts Moorpark. No. 2 seed Compton (17-9) plays San Bernardino. No. 4 seed Leuzinger, the Bay League champion, hosts Baldwin Park.
  • Division 3AAA: No. 1 seed Damien (24-2), the Sierra League champion, plays El Dorado. No. 2 Pasadena (19-7), hosts Magnolia.
  • Division 3A: No. 2 seed St. John Bosco (19-6), the second-place finisher in the Trinity League, hosts Jurupa Hills.
  • Division 4A: No. 1 seed Pacific Hills (23-4) has a first-round bye and plays the winner of Costa Mesa-St. Monica.
  • Division 5AA: No. 1 St. Bernard (19-7), a state finalist last year, has a first-round bye and awaits the winner of San Gabriel Academy and Cate.

On the girls' side:
  • The No. 1 seeds: Windward (Division 4AA); Long Beach Poly (1AA); Keppel (2AA); West Torrance (3AAA).

Windward holds off La Verne Lutheran

December, 14, 2011
In a battle of defending state champions, Windward upset nationally-ranked La Verne Lutheran, 64-62, Tuesday night behind LMU-bound forward Nicholas Stover's 27 points.

Windward point guard Jordan Wilson sank a three to give his team a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats (3-3) extended their lead to as many as 13 before the Trojans (5-1) stormed back.

It was somewhat of a surprising result, given that Windward had already lost to Oaks Christian, Price and Santa Monica. La Verne Lutheran was ranked No. 46 in the POWERADE ESPNHS Fab 50 rankings heading into the game.

Regardless, each squad is a serious contender for the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA crown, and this figures to be a learning experience for both.
ANAHEIM -- Sometimes it's good to be greedy.

Senior James Douglas realized it and delivered Wednesday night, scoring 27 points to help Orange Lutheran claim the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA boys' basketball title with a 78-71 win over Windward at Anaheim Arena.

Don't call Douglas selfish, though. The Northern Arizona-bound guard also led the top-seeded Lancers with nine rebounds and six assists. He wasn't about to head back to Orange without the trophy.

"When my team needs it, I get going," Douglas said. "I knew I had to be aggressive."

Douglas came out hard, scoring nine points in the first quarter as Lutheran (26-6) jumped out to a 24-6 lead. He had another eight in the second, helping the top-seeded Lancers to a 10-point advantage at the break.

"They started off real fast on us and we were opposite," Windward coach Miguel Villegas said. "We couldn't hit a shot and exerted a lot of energy to get back into this ballgame."

It was only a matter of time, Douglas said, until the second-seeded Wildcats (23-8) made their run. Windward forward Wesley Saunders believed nerves were his team's biggest issue. They had taken the court immediately after the school's girls' team celebrated its own CIF title win.

The Wildcats, behind 24 points and 13 rebounds from Saunders, climbed the mountain and assumed a 50-49 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Windward went into the final quarter leading 54-51 after outscoring Lutheran 22-9 in the third.

It looked like the small school of 345 students would make it two for two in Anaheim.

(Read full post)

ANAHEIM -- Windward had four players score in double figures Wednesday afternoon to rout Bishop Montgomery, 68-46, and capture the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA girls' basketball title.

Top-seeded Windward, a small school with an enrollment of 345, never trailed. Imani Stafford and Kristen Simon each recorded double-doubles for the Wildcats (25-4).

Second-seeded Bishop Montgomery (22-10) was down 13 at halftime and cut it to single digits in the third quarter, but Windward pulled away behind Simon and Courtney Jaco, who scored seven apiece in the fourth.

Jordin Canada led Winward with 14 points and seven assists. Kristen Ale had 16 and Chelsey Aaron had 11 for Bishop Montgomery.
Harvard-Westlake beat Bishop Montgomery to win the Southern Section Division 4AA girls' basketball championship.

Harvard-Westlake's Nicole Hung scored a game-high 16 points and had 10 rebounds in the win.

She said, "The third quarter was really the turning point for us. We showed a lot of maturity this year. We came together, played as a team. The difference was intensity."

After a slow start to the game, Harvard-Westlake bounced back in the third quarter. They trailed by three points at halftime and were down as many as 10 in the first half.

Harvard-Westlake outscored Bishop Montgomery, 17-10, in the third quarter to take a four-point lead.