Los Angeles Preps: Dominique Dunning



LOS ANGELES -- Understandably, Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight didn't want to get into the specifics of his halftime speech. Coaches don't share many secrets.

"I talked about intensity," McKnight hinted, "and I was pretty aggressive about it."

Whatever McKnight said seemed to spark Mater Dei, which erased a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Corona Centennial, 76-64, Saturday night at Galen Center and advance to next week's CIF State Division I boys' basketball championship game in Sacramento. The fourth-seeded Monarchs outscored the second-seeded Huskies 49-30 in the second half.

"We came out knowing we had nothing to lose," said Katin Reinhardt, who led Mater Dei with 19 points. "We came out wanting a state title."

Junior Xavier Johnson had 16 and freshman Stanley Johnson had 14 and 12 rebounds for the Monarchs (31-3). Dominique Dunning and Michael Caffey led the way for the Huskies (30-5) with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Mater Dei outrebounded Centennial 43-23.

"We had fire in our hearts," Xavier Johnson said.

Things looked promising for Centennial at the break, as the Huskies stormed into the tunnel leading 34-27 behind a combined 27 points from its touted trio of Dunning, Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright. Fast-paced Centennial attempted 11 more fields goals than Mater Dei in the first half.

It all changed in the third. Mater Dei used a 9-2 run to pull even and capped the quarter on a 9-0 spurt to go in front, 47-42. Centennial went cold, making just three of 16 attempts (18.8 percent) in the third.

"We started off the second half as bad as we could have," Centennial coach Josh Giles said, shaking his head.

Mater Dei didn't have to wait long to avenge its CIF Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal loss to Centennial. The Huskies had basically stolen that game from the Monarchs' grasp, coming back from 15 down to win, 60-58, March 1 at Anaheim Arena.

"That's the thing," Reinhardt said, "we didn't want to lose again. We couldn't lose again. They knock us off our CIF run and we just proved that we can beat that team. We should have won the first time."

Blair Angulo covers preps and UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Inland Empire: SoCal Regional Finalist, Centennial

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
4:35
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ESPNLA is taking a closer look this week at the Inland Empire basketball teams that qualified for the Southern California Regional championships Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Today, the spotlight is on the Corona Centennial boys’ team, which plays Mater Dei in the Division 1 final at 8 p.m.

CENTENNIAL (30-4)

Located: Corona.

League: Big VIII.

Resume: The Huskies endured a challenging pre-league schedule, losing to Etiwanda in the championship game of the Rose City Classic in Pasadena, falling to San Diego Lincoln in the final of the Santa Monica tournament and losing a second-round game to Oakland Bishop O’Dowd in the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. As the only team from the I.E. entered in the National Division, the Huskies finished fifth after beating the state’s preseason top-ranked team, Woodland Hills Taft, in a fifth-place semifinal. Centennial stayed on course in the Big VIII League, posting double-digit victories in 12 of 14 games, and entered the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs seeded third behind Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei. After wins against Temecula Great Oak, Los Alamitos and Upland, the Huskies shocked Mater Dei with a 60-58 come-from-behind victory in a section semifinal at the Anaheim Convention Center. They couldn’t get past top-seeded Poly in the finals, however. Rematches with Westchester and Taft were the first hurdles in the regionals, and the Huskies passed those tests with ease and confidence. They aren’t getting the rematch with the Jackrabbits they envisioned, as Mater Dei upset Poly to earn its own rematch with Centennial. And those early-season losses for the Huskies? Turns out they weren't so bad after all. Etiwanda was a Division 1AA semifinalist and regional quarterfinalist but couldn't get past Poly either time. Lincoln is playing Fontana Summit in the Division 2 regional final, and Bishop O’Dowd reached the Division 3 final in the Northern California Regionals.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire and LA North: Centennial 94, Taft 81

March, 12, 2011
3/12/11
9:47
PM PT


EASTVALE — The Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team dug a deep hole for Woodland Hills Taft in the opening five minutes of their Southern California Regional Division 1 semifinal Saturday and made sure the Toreadors didn’t see any daylight the rest of the way in the 94-81 victory at Roosevelt High.

“We knew we could get out on top of them early,” said Centennial senior guard Dominique Dunning. “Luckily, we’re hot.”

The second-seeded Huskies advanced to meet fourth-seeded Mater Dei in the regional championship game Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Mater Dei upset top-seeded Long Beach Poly, 72-55, on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Centennial, which beat the Monarchs last week in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal.

The rematch between Centennial and third-seeded Taft played out differently than when the teams met Dec. 29 in a fifth-place semifinal of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, but the result was the same. In the first meeting, the Huskies rallied from six points down at the start of the fourth quarter to win, 61-58.

The second time around, the Huskies surged to a 24-9 lead with 3 minutes 12 seconds still remaining in the opening quarter and didn’t allow Taft to get any closer than five the rest of the way.

Gelaun Wheelwright, coming off a 38-point performance in a quarterfinal victory Thursday against Westchester, scored 24 points to lead Centennial.

“The last three games, he’s making everything,” said Centennial coach Josh Giles. “He’s an unbelievable shot maker.”

Dunning contributed 21 points and nine rebounds and Michael Caffey had 17 points and 11 assists.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire and LA South: Corona Centennial 68, Westchester 57

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
10:54
PM PT


CORONA — Gelaun Wheelwright is getting pretty adept at picking up the slack.

The senior guard for the Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team had to carry some of the scoring load for hobbled teammate Michael Caffey and he came through with 38 points Thursday night in a 68-57 victory against Westchester in CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 quarterfinal at Centennial.

The Huskies advanced to host Woodland Hills Taft in the regional semifinals Saturday night. Centennial beat the Toreadors earlier this season at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.

As the second-seeded team, Centennial has enjoyed home-court advantage through the first two rounds. Wheelwright said the comfortable confines has helped spark his stellar play. The Huskies had just one home game in the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs, which ended with a loss to top-seeded Long Beach Poly in the championship game at Anaheim Convention Center.

“I feel good playing in front of a bunch of my peers,” said Wheelwright, who signed with Weber State. “They get me focused and ready to play.”

Caffey, who signed with Long Beach State, sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of a first-round victory Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley and did not return. Wheelwright finished with 31 points in that win.

As recently as Thursday morning, Caffey was still on crutches.

“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to play or not because it was killing me,” Caffey said of his ankle. “I was a little slower than usual but then my adrenaline started pumping.”

Caffey finished with seven points, including a big 3-point basket early in the fourth quarter that broke a 48-48 tie.

(Read full post)

Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

Second round

Westchester at Corona Centennial, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey will likely be a game-time decision after twisting his right ankle during the third quarter Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley. Caffey, who has signed with Long Beach State, said after the game that he "should be back" against the Comets. Caffey is averaging 17.5 points and 6.2 assists for the second-seeded Huskies and has emerged as the team’s best playmaker.

2. If any team can weather the storm without one of its key players, it’s Centennial. The Huskies’ backcourt also includes New Mexico-bound slasher Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound sharpshooter Gelaun Wheelwright. The duo combined for 59 points in the victory against REV. Caffey missed two Big VIII League games earlier this season with a sprained left ankle and the Huskies didn’t skip a beat. Westchester isn’t Norco, however.

3. Due to their respective locations, you wouldn’t expect these teams to have a history against each other, but they played Dec. 30 in the fifth-place game of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Huskies raced to a 24-7 lead in that game and kept the Comets in the rearview mirror the rest of the way in 59-51 victory. Dunning scored 17 points in the game and Joshua Wilson had 17 to lead Westchester.

4. This isn’t the Comets of old. Sure, they reached the City Section championship game but they don’t have the start power of recent seasons, such as when Trevor Ariza streaked down the lane, Amir Johnson patrolled the middle or Dwayne Polee, Jr. soared above the rim. This season, Westchester relies on an unsung cast that includes 6-6 forward Robert Gsellman, who is better known among baseball recruiters for his .649 batting average last season.

5. Much of what makes Westchester so beatable this season is its inexperience. The Comets graduated 11 players from last season’s Division 1 state championship team. Woodland Hills Taft had every reason to kick the Comets when they were down. The Toreadors lost to Westchester in the City Section final the last two years and three of the last five, but they could only manage a four-point victory in last week’s City Section final.

Inland Empire: Centennial 89, Redlands East Valley 73

March, 8, 2011
3/08/11
9:45
PM PT


CORONA—One of the best aspects of Southern California Regional basketball playoffs is they give teams a second chance.

The Corona Centennial boys’ team is grateful to have another opportunity to end its season on a winning after losing by 16 points Saturday against Long Beach Poly in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game.

The Huskies weren’t about to let this one slip away.

Gelaun Wheelwright scored 31 points and Dominique Dunning had 28 to lead the second-seeded Huskies to an 89-73 victory Tuesday night against visiting Redlands East Valley in the opening round of the Division 1 regionals.

“Our team really came out focused and ready to play so we can get another crack at them,” Wheelwright said of the top-seeded Jackrabbits.

Of course, a number of talented teams still stand between Centennial and Poly, but the Huskies are prepared to go through anybody. They already have a victory this season against third-seeded Woodland Hills Taft.

“We know we can compete with anybody in there,” Dunning said. “We’re just as confident as anybody else.”

Redlands East Valley (25-8) stayed with Centennial (28-4) during the first half, thanks in part to 14 first-half points from REV guard Greg Dishman. Leading by nine points at halftime, the Huskies used a 10-0 run early in the third quarter to take a 55-37 lead and the Wildcats never pulled back within single digits.

With Long Beach State-bound point guard Michael Caffey nursing a sprained ankle for much of the second half, Wheelwright and Dunning picked up the slack. Wheelwright scored 19 points after halftime and Dunning had 16.

Wheelwright sank five three-point baskets.

“I guess today was my night,” he said. “Luckily they were falling.”

Redlands East Valley guard Terrell Todd said it wasn’t Centennial’s shooting ability that put the Wildcats in a hole, but its speed.

“They were faster than us,” Todd said. “We never played a different team like that. They were fast, pushed the ball and we couldn’t handle it.”

Wheelwright said he sensed the Huskies defensive pressure was also giving REV problems.

“Our pressure helped a lot,” he said. “They were nervous when they got into the traps and we forced a lot of turnovers.”

Dishman did his part, making a season-high seven three-pointers and scoring a season-best 28 points. Todd, the team’s leading scorer at 20.3 points a game, finished with 14 and Pepperdine-bound center Paulin Mpawe had 10.

Centennial will play host to Westchester on Thursday in their second round game.

Inland Empire: Corona Centennial set to host Redlands East Valley

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
10:11
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Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

First round

Redlands East Valley at Corona Centennial, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial is seeded No. 2 in this bracket, mainly due to the efforts of its Big Three. Michael Caffey has signed with Long Beach State, Dominique Dunning with New Mexico and Gelaun Wheelwright with Weber State. Caffey began the season as the third option but he has elevated himself into the player most likely to take the big shot down the stretch. He was pivotal in the Huskies’ victory against Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals.

2. How will the guard-oriented Huskies handle Paulin Mpawe, the 6-9 center for REV who has signed with Pepperdine? Centennial didn’t have an answer for California-bound center Ryan Anderson in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 6-10 senior for Long Beach Poly had 18 points and 21 rebounds in the 68-52 victory. Mpawe is averaging 14 points and 11.2 rebounds.

3. You can pretty much bet the farm that the Huskies will string together a sizable run during a game, usually turning a close contest into a route. REV needs to be cognizant of when that’s occurring and use its timeouts wisely. With Mpawe and leading scorer Terrell Todd, a senior guard, the Wildcats have the pieces to slow the game into a half-court tug-of-war, but they need to limit their turnovers, especially while bringing the ball upcourt.

4. The Southern California Regionals are different than the section playoffs in that the higher-seeded team gets home-court advantage. Centennial hasn’t played a whole lot of home games this season. This will be just its ninth at Centennial High this season, and second of the postseason. Still, they are 8-0 at home and haven’t lost in their own gymnasium since January 2009.

5. REV hasn’t played since Feb. 25, when the Wildcats lost to Los Angeles Loyola, 90-60, in a Division 1A semifinal at Cal State Los Angeles and, for all intents and purposes, checked out of that game about the second quarter. Centennial, on the other hand, is fresh off their loss to Long Beach Poly and hungry to get back to its winning ways. If staying in rhythm is the key to scoring the basketball, the Huskies have that advantage as well.

Inland Empire: Half dozen boys' basketball teams remain alive

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
2:42
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And then there were six.
Now that the Southern Section boys’ basketball playoffs have been pared down to the semifinals, the Inland Empire is left with just a few precious pieces still in the game.
Here’s a rundown:

ETIWANDA

Of the I.E. teams still playing, the Eagles are by far the most familiar with this time of year. They jumped all over host Valencia in a Division 1AA quarterfinal Tuesday night, scoring the first 10 points en route to 70-58 victory and their fourth straight trip to the section semifinals. Etiwanda, seeded fourth, moves on to play a familiar foe in top-seeded Long Beach Poly. Etiwanda beat the Jackrabbits in the semifinals last season, then lost to them in the Southern California Regionals.

CORONA CENTENNIAL

The Big Three carried the Huskies to a 74-58 victory Tuesday against visiting Upland. Dominique Dunning scored 26 points, Michael Caffey had 19 and Gelaun Wheelwright 13 for third-seeded Centennial. The Huskies, who have won 18 consecutive games, will meet second-seeded Mater Dei in the Tuesday’s semifinals at the Anaheim Convention Center. Mater Dei ended the season for Rialto Eisenhower, 82-62.

REDLANDS EAST VALLEY

Another team that appears to be peaking at the right time is the Wildcats. They went to Downey on Tuesday night and had no problem knocking off the fourth-seeded Vikings, 71-54, in a Division 1A quarterfinal. Led by senior point guard Terrell Todd and Pepperdine-bound center Paulin Mpawe, REV has the kind of inside-outside punch that can carry a team in the postseason. The fifth-seeded Wildcats will face a tough test in the semifinals against top-seeded Loyola, however.

FONTANA SUMMIT

The sixth-seeded SkyHawks clawed back from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit in a Division 2AA quarterfinal Tuesday against third-seeded Anaheim Canyon and won, 70-63, to advance to the semifinals for the second straight season. Dorian Cason has been one of the I.E.’s most improved players throughout the season and he finished with 22 points, including 17 in the first half. Cason, a 6-6 senior forward, will be matched against 6-10 senior center Isaac Neilson of Mission Viejo in Friday’s semifinals, which will be hosted by Summit at a to-be-determined neutral site.

PALM SPRINGS

The Indians won their second straight playoff game by the score of 49-48 to reach the semifinals in Division 3AA for the second consecutive season. Unlike the second-round game at Arroyo Grande, when second-seeded Palm Springs held on for the victory, the Indians rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter against visiting La Habra Sonora. Palm Springs will play third-seeded La Canada in Friday’s semifinals. The game will be played at a neutral site but the Indians have been designated the home team, so it will likely be played somewhere in the desert.

REDLANDS ADVENTIST ACADEMY

The city of Redlands has not one, but two teams in the semifinals. The Bulldogs knocked off Trinity Classical Academy of Valencia, 57-43, in a Division 6A quarterfinal Tuesday. Despite getting out-sized by 6-6 forward James Brooks of first-year Trinity Classical, Kamaal Thomas came through with 17 points and Mikeal Anderson had 14 for third-seeded RAA, which will play second-seeded Boron in Friday’s semifinals.

Inland Empire: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 14, 2011
2/14/11
9:20
PM PT
The regular season came to an end last week and the second season begins Wednesday with first-round playoff games in most divisions. Upland and Fontana Summit are among the Inland Empire teams that built momentum heading into the playoffs, Eastvale Roosevelt and Ontario Colony seem to be heading in the opposite direction.

1. Corona Centennial, 23-3 (1) – The Huskies scored early and often in a 65-45 victory Thursday against Eastvale Roosevelt, giving them the outright Big VIII League title. Michael Caffey returned from an ankle injury to score 21 points, Gelaun Wheelwright had 20 and Dominique Dunning 16 for Centennial, which is seeded third in Division 1AA. Next up: Wednesday vs. Temecula Great Oak in a first-round game at Centennial, 7 p.m.

2. Etiwanda, 25-2 (2) – Etiwanda wrapped up the regular season with one-sided wins against Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos and Alta Loma, then learned it was seeded fourth in the Division 1AA playoffs. The Eagles paid the price for two late-season losses and dropped a couple spots in the seeding order. That means they’ll have to go through top-seeded Long Beach Poly to reach the finals, instead of second-seeded Mater Dei. Next up: Wednesday vs. Long Beach Wilson in a first-round game at Etiwanda, 7 p.m.

3. Murrieta Valley, 23-3 (3) – The Nighthawks ended a perfect run through Southwestern League play with double-digit wins at Vista Murrieta and Temecula Chaparral. MurrietaValley, which won the Division 2AA title last season against Compton, now steps up two levels for the playoffs. The Nighthawks are seeded fifth in Division 1AA. Next up: Wednesday vs. Corona in a first-round game at Murrieta Valley, 7 p.m.

4. Rialto Eisenhower, 17-7 (4) – The Eagles blew out Fontana and Yucaipa last week to finish unbeaten in Citrus Belt League play for the second consecutive year. After the Eagles went 7-6 in December, they found their groove down the stretch, even getting payback against Los Angeles Fairfax for an earlier loss. Eisenhower, the Division 2A champion the last two seasons, enters the Division 1AA playoffs seeded seventh. Next up: Wednesday vs. Chaparral in a first-round game at Eisenhower, 7 p.m.

5. Elsinore, 23-4 (5) – The Tigers employed their full-court press to perfection last week in one-sided victories against Romoland Heritage and Menifee Paloma Valley. They finished undefeated in Sunbelt League play and are seeded second in the Division 2A playoffs, their highest seeding in school history. Elsinore advanced to the Division 3AA semifinals last season, eventually losing to Santa Ana Foothill, which is seeded third in same half of bracket. Next up: Wednesday vs. Westminster in a first-round game at Elsinore, 7 p.m.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

January, 24, 2011
1/24/11
8:03
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1. The Rialto Eisenhower boys’ basketball team faced a short-handed Richmond Salesian team from Northern California on Saturday in a showcase held at the University of La Verne, but still couldn’t close the gap against the team that came in ranked 10th in the West Region by ESPN RISE. The game featured 13 lead changes but Salesian led when it counted and won, 57-54. The Pride played without standout sophomore Jabari Bird, a 6-5 wing who was averaging 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was ruled ineligible the day before by the North Coast Section for violating CIF transfer rules. He played for Benicia as a freshman. Salesian also had to forfeit 16 victories this season.

2. Ashton Robinson of Redlands hasn’t let up on his remarkable scoring binge. He scored 43 points in an 18-point loss to Eisenhower on Tuesday, they came back with 26 in a 12-point win Thursday against Fontana Miller. His 34.4 scoring average is second-best in the state and seventh in the nation. He’s also among the Southern Section leaders in three-point shooting and free-throw shooting. Robinson’s surge in offensive production is especially noteworthy because the senior guard averaged just 8.2 points for the Terriers last season.

3. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey scored 25 points Thursday night to help the Huskies holds off Eastvale Roosevelt, 59-56, in a Big VIII League game at Centennial. Among his teammates, which includes New Mexico-bound Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound Gelaun Wheelwright, Caffey has shown the most improvement in his offensive game this season, bumping up his scoring average from 12.6 last season to 18.5. He’s also averaging 6.4 assists and 3.2 steals. Caffey has signed with Long Beach State.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
11:47
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The boys' basketball season has been fast-paced throughout the Southland to this point and it doesn’t appear as if things will be slowing down any time soon.

That said, let’s get down to business and check out who’s who and find out how some of Southern California’s premier programs stack up against one another in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20.

1. Long Beach Poly (15-0): Jackrabbits are cream of the crop and rise to the top.

2. Etiwanda (16-0): Does not appear as if anyone can stop Byron Wesley & Co.

3. Mater Dei (16-2): Two Trinity League games on deck this week for the Monarchs.

4. Centennial (13-3): Pick your poison, Michael Caffey or Dominique Dunning.

5. Taft (13-2): Coming off a big victory at HoopHall Classic in Massachusetts.

6. Orange Lutheran (14-4): Tandem of James Douglas and Gabe York is tough.

7. Westchester (14-5): No superstars, but the Comets are still getting the job done.

8. Canyon (16-2): There’s no shame in losing twice to Mater Dei. Enough said.

9. Harvard-Westlake (16-2): Wolverines on a mission in Mission League play.

10. Mission Viejo (19-0): South Coast clash Wednesday against Capistrano Valley.

(Read full post)

LA North: Injury will sideline Valencia's Jackson

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
7:51
PM PT
VALENCIA -- Was making my rounds all over the Southland on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to gather some boys’ basketball notes and I decided to make a stop in the Santa Clarita Valley to check in on Lonnie Jackson and see how things were going with Valencia' standout senior. Turns out, times are tough for him these days.

Apparently, the 6-foot-3, 165-pound shooting guard is suffering from a troublesome left foot injury that could end up keeping him out of the lineup for as many as two weeks, perhaps longer. And that fact doesn’t bode particularly well for Valencia as it prepares for the start of Foothill League play this week.

“We’re going to be without Lonnie for a while, and any time you don’t have your best player in uniform, that’s a big problem,’’ Vikings coach Robert “Rocket” Collins said. “We’re not sure how the injury happened, but he has couple of bones in his left foot that are rubbing together. There’s some bruising.’’

Overcoming such a loss won’t be easy for the Vikings (9-5 overall) considering Jackson is one of the top players around. In fact, Boston College was so enamored with his well-rounded skill set that the Golden Eagles offered him a scholarship and Jackson signed a letter-of-intent in late September.

ESPNU ranks Jackson as one of the state’s premier players at his position, right behind well-known peers such as Oakland’s Jabari Brown and San Diego Lincoln’s Norman Powell, who are heading to Oregon and UCLA, respectively.

Closer to home, when it comes to Southern California’s top shooting guards, Jackson’s name is frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Newport Beach Corona del Mar’s Danny Cheek, Corona Centennial’s Dominique Dunning, Villa Park’s Shaquille Hunter and Palos Verdes Peninsula’s Reese Morgan.

With that being said, the Vikings figure to have a difficult task ahead. Trying to find a suitable replacement for Jackson won’t be easy. He was averaging 19 points, six rebounds and four assists per game before being sidelined.

“No Lonnie, things are going to be interesting, I can tell you that,’’ Collins said. “We’re going to make adjustments and move on, for now.’’

Inland Empire: Boys basketball preview

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
12:43
AM PT
Top 10

1. Etiwanda – The Eagles return five of their top seven players from a team that lost by three points to Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA final. Byron Wesley, a 6-foot-5 small forward who has signed with USC, is one of the top players in the state. Running the point will be Jordan Daniels, undersized at 5-8 but a lightning-quick ball handler who is drawing interest from mid-major colleges.

2. Corona Centennial – The Huskies finished 25-5 last season, losing by six points to Etiwanda in a section quarterfinal. Dominique Dunning, a 6-4 wing who has signed with New Mexico, was the Big VIII League most valuable player last season and a first-team Division. I-AA selection. He’ll have plenty of support with the return of second-team senior guards Michael Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright.

3. Murrieta Valley – The Nighthawks return their top three players from last season’s team that won the Division 2AA title. Justin Gudger, a 6-4 senior forward, averaged a team-high 17 points and six rebounds and was named the Division 2AA player of the year. Austin Quick, a 6-3 senior guard, averaged 14.1 points before missing the postseason with a knee injury, and 6-1 senior guard Mark Tarabilda averaged 8.1.

4. Redlands East Valley – The Wildcats return their top three scorers, leading rebounder and top two assist leaders from a team that finished 17-11 last season. Paulin Mpawe, a 6-9 senior center who signed with Pepperdine, averaged 9.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks while earning first-team all-Citrus Belt League honors. Another first-teamer, 5-11 senior guard Terrell Todd, averaged a team-high 16.7 points, and 5-7 senior guard Greg Dishman averaged 10.1 points and 3.9 assists.

5. UplandJohn Gilliam, a 6-2 senior guard, returns after leading the 21-9 Highlanders to the Division 1AA quarterfinals. He averaged a team-high 21.2 points last season, and was named the Baseline League co-most valuable player and a Division 1AA first-team selection. Myles Pearson, a 5-11 junior guard also returns. He averaged 9.7 points last season and a team-high 2.7 assists.

(Read full post)

Basketball is back in the Southland

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
8:43
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Let the games begin.

After months of being seemingly dormant, gyms all over the Southland were buzzing once again Monday afternoon as the high school boys’ basketball season tipped off with some of the premier players around, and programs, gathering at numerous high-profile tournaments.

Long Beach Poly, Compton, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, Santa Monica and Fairfax are among the many marquee schools in attendance at the week-long Redondo Tournament in Redondo Beach. And while Boston College-bound Ryan Anderson and Long Beach Poly are considered the odds-on favorite to win the title, the Jackrabbits figure to be tested early and often.

There will be no shortage of talent at the Pasadena Tournament the next couple of days and Norvel Pelle from Los Angeles Price headlines things. ESPNU ranks the 6-foot-9 senior as the nation’s No. 15 power forward. He’ll play for former UCLA coach Steve Lavin at St. John’s in the future.

Don’t be surprised to see Etiwanda’s tandem of Byron Wesley and Jordan Daniels give Pelle & Co. all they can handle at the Pasadena Tournament. It’s also worth mentioning that Corona Centennial’s combination of Michael Caffey and Dominque Dunning pose as legitimate threats.

For those in the Ventura County area, checking out this week’s action at the Simi Valley Tournament is a good idea. Making the trip will be worthwhile given the fact senior Lonnie Jackson, one of the state’s top shooting guards, will be in uniform for Valencia. The host Pioneers plan on countering with Jonathan Davis, a senior power forward heading to George Washington.

We’d be remiss if we didn't mention the Westchester Tournament, annually one of Southern California’s more competitive showcases. This year, of course, is no different. Los Angeles Washington and Mission Hills Alemany could make some noise. Ultimately, however, Woodland Hills Taft and the host Comets appear poised to meet in the finals later this week.

There you have it hoops fans, plenty of hardwood options to choose from. And keep in mind, most tournament title games are scheduled for either Saturday afternoon or evening. In the meantime, enjoy life, high school boys’ basketball is officially back.

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