Los Angeles Preps: El Toro

For third time this season, the El Toro pitching staff shut out Tesoro, and the two-hitter by Chasen Ford on Thursday gave the Chargers the South Coast League title.

Ford struck out five as he beat the Titans, 4-0, for the second time this season. In three league games, El Toro outscored Tesoro, 17-0, including a 9-0 victory on Tuesday.

The win on Tuesday ensured that El Toro (24-6, 9-3), which is No. 7 in the Southern Section Division 1 rankings, would go into the playoffs next week as the league's first-place representative, but the win on Thursday gave the Chargers the title outright. Tesoro (18-10-1, 7-5) finished second.

Mitchell Volman, who had a grand slam in the earlier victory, scored twice and had an RBI on Thursday. He also had a double and triple.

Jonah Arenado had two RBIs and Jayson Yano one.

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Tied for first place going into the last two games of the season -- both against each other -- El Toro fired the first volley on Tuesday with a 9-0 victory over Tesoro.

That guarantees the Chargers a share of first place in the South Coast League. Coupled with its 4-0 victory earlier this season, it gives El Toro the tiebreaker advantage when the playoffs roll around; the Chargers will be the first-place entry when the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs begin next week.

El Toro held a 3-0 lead before unleashing six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The outburst was largely powered by the first home run of the season from Mitchell Tolman, who hit a grand slam.

El Toro got a five-hitter from junior pitcher Stephen Villines, who struck out seven and walked none.

Ranked No. 7 in the Southern Section Division 1 rankings, El Toro (23-6, 8-3) leads Tesoro (18-9-1, 7-4) and Capistrano Valley (18-10-1, 6-5). Tesoro holds a tie-breaker advantage over Capo Valley should they tie for second place.
In Orange County baseball action this week, the last of the regular season, the South Coast and Empire leagues are the ones to watch.

Everything should be on the line Thursday when Cypress (23-5, 9-1) plays host to Garden Grove Pacifica (21-5, 9-1). They are tied atop the Empire League standings, and there's plenty riding on the outcome. Led by Tyler Alamo (batting .510), Cypress comes into the game No. 2 in the Southern Section Division 2 rankings with a 1.30 team earned-run average. Pacifica is No. 3.

The Mariners aren't without their own mound threats, including pitchers Max Bethel (9-1, 1.72) and Kyle Davis (6-1, 1.28), who has 26 RBIs.

The loser of the game will slide to the other side of the playoff bracket—to be released on Monday—with Harvard-Westlake, which is the No. 1 team the the Powerade State rankings.

Further south, El Toro (22-6, 7-3) and Tesoro (18-8-1, 7-3) are tied for first place in the South Coast League and they close the season with home and away games against each other. El Toro is ranked No. 7 in the Southern Section Division 1 poll, while Tesoro is a bubble team.

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1. With a week left in the regular season, Sonora called on sophomore catcher Andrew Piraino to make his varsity pitching debut, and he responded with a 2-0 shutout of Freeway League leader La Habra. Sonora trails the Highlanders by a game with two remaining. Piraino pitched a four-hitter.

2. One of the outstanding swim performances of the weekend belonged to Villa Park's B.J. Churnside, who clocked 20.57 seconds in the 50 freestyle—the eighth-best time in county history—and 46.35 in the 100 free to win Century League boys' titles. Tiny Irvine Crean Lutheran is making some noise on the girls' side as freshman Ella Eastin clocked 2:01.65 for the eighth-best eighth-best 200 individual medley in county history, and teammate Lindsey Engel turned in the sixth-fastest 50 free in 23.30 in the Academy League finals.

3. There will be a new champion in lacrosse as Corona del Mar remained undefeated by beating five-time defending champion Foothill, 7-5, in the U.S. Lacrosse Division 1 South semifinals on Saturday. The top-seeded Sea Kings (22-0) won behind Casey Mix and Michael Keasey, who had three goals apiece, and Michael Ortleib's 13 saves against the fourth-seeded Knights. CdM will face San Clemente (15-6) in the finals on Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Dana Hills High. San Clemente beat Santa Margarita, 12-11, on Peyton Garrett's sudden death overtime goal. Robbie Burns had five goals for San Clemente, which trailed 11-8 after three quarters.

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UC Davis has be pretty happy that its basketball program is getting a couple of recruits who are still playing.

Celia Marfone of Laguna Hills and Molly Greubel of Santa Ana Foothill have led their teams to the Southern Section Regional Championships today at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario.

Marfone has been the big presence for Laguna Hills (25-8) which won a state title in 1997 with 6-foot-6 Tayyiba Haneef in the post. Laguna Hills hopes to beat top-seeded Mission Bay (26-6) today, 10 a.m., in the Division III regional finals. Even though the Hawks don't have anyone like Haneef, Marfone (6-0) and Anna Mumm (6-2) provide two posts that provide a solid foundation. They also have a junior guard in Maddy Ziering-Smith who can distribute the ball as well as score.

Marfone is averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds; she had 20 points and 22 rebounds against Mission Hills Alemany in the regional semifinals, a 58-49 victory. Mumm, a junior, is averaging just 5.5 points but has averaged 10 rebounds and blocked 105 shots this season. Ziering-Smith is averaging 16.8 points with four assists and four steals per game.

Mission Bay is coached by former Lynwood High star Sade Wiley-Gatewood, who won state championships as a point guard when she was in high school. She's coaching a team with tall athletic guards that will be a handful for Laguna Hills, which has now won five section championships.

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Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran won the Southern Section Division 1AA and 1A championships, respectively. Now, with only the state playoffs remaining, the two Trinity League teams -- ranked 1-2 at the beginning of the season -- are 1-2 again. Mater Dei never left its spot atop the perch, but Lutheran -- which lost four games while Gabe York was out with appendicitis -- has had to earn its way back to its rightful position.

1. Mater Dei (29-2): Top-seeded Monarchs won their 21st Southern Section championship with victory over Long Beach Poly, which has 19, led by Katin Reinhardt, Xavier Johnson and Stanley Johnson. Next: vs. Crescenta Valley, Wednesday.

2. Orange Lutheran (21-10): Lancers began the year ranked No. 2 behind Mater Dei, and after mid-season losses with Gabe York out, they finally return to their rightful spot with York leading the way to a 1A championship. Next: vs. L.A. Dorsey, Wednesday.

3. Mission Viejo (27-4): Top-seeded Diablos made a run at OLu, but Michael Cramer, Evan Zeller and Max Redfield had no answer for York. Next: at Del Mar Torrey Pines, Wednesday.

4. Capistrano Valley (25-5): Second-seeded Cougars had no answer for York or Payton Banks but 17 seniors still have a chance in the regional playoffs. Posted victories over Trabuco Hills. Next: at Long Beach Poly, Wednesday.

5. Ocean View (24-4): Sea Hawks had a bitterly disappointing run in the playoffs, but over the weekend coach Jim Harris was posthumously entered into the SCIBCA Hall of Fame. Posted victories over Aliso Niguel, Mission Viejo. Next: Season concluded.

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O.C.: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 26, 2012
In both Division 1AA and 1A, the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals. That means there will be some epic games on Tuesday, perhaps none sweeter than Capistrano Valley against Orange Lutheran. But if you're looking for a sweet ride, Sunny Hills is your team. The 11th-seeded Lancers have beaten two league champions, including third-seeded Riverside North.

1. Mater Dei (27-2): Top-seeded Monarchs reached the semifinals with win over Foothill, but it was the losing Knights who felt good about their performance. Next: vs. Long Beach Poly at Anaheim Arena, Tuesday.

2. Mission Viejo (26-3): Top-seeded Diablos needed overtime to beat Valencia West Ranch, but what's a little extra work to take another step toward the championship? Next: vs. Crescenta Valley, Tuesday.

3. Capistrano Valley (25-4): Second-seeded Cougars get a good start from Aleks Lipovic and roll into the semifinals. Next: at Orange Lutheran, Tuesday.

4. Orange Lutheran (19-10): Third-seeded Lancers get big efforts from Gabe York and Jordan Banks, but nearly blow 20-point lead to Corona. Next: vs. Capistrano Valley.

5. Ocean View (24-4): Long journey in the second round preceded obliteration of Sea Hawks' 18-game winning streak. A bitter defeat to Thousand Oaks, 82-65. Next: Season concluded.

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Fab Five playoff games this weekend

February, 23, 2012
Southern Section Division 1A

Mission Viejo (25-3) vs. West Ranch (17-10): Top-seeded Mission Viejo travels to play eighth-seeded West Ranch in the quarterfinals on Friday night. Can West Ranch pull of the upset? Mission Viejo plays tough defense. Opposing teams are scoring an average of 54.5 points per game against the Diablos. In the playoffs, the Mission Viejo defense is even better, surrendering only 44.5 points per game. Mission Viejo had an 18-game winning streak at one point during the season. West Ranch has a legitimate big man in 6-foot-7 forward Ako Kaluna. He is averaging 16.1 points per game and coming off a 29-point performance against Edison in the second round of the playoffs. West Ranch as a team is averaging 70.4 points per game and 86.5 points per game in the playoffs.

El Toro (22-8) vs. Crescenta Valley (25-4): This should be a tight one. Fifth-seeded El Toro is on the road against fourth-seeded Crescenta Valley. The Falcons are coming off a 67-55 win over Warren in the second round. Dylan Kilgour, Davis Dragovich and Cole Currie each scored in double figures for Crescenta Valley. They combined for 51 of the Falcons’ 67 points against Warren. Kilgour led the way with 19 points. El Toro’s Cody White scored 24 points in his team’s 76-48 win over Huntington Beach in the second round.

Division 2AA

Riverside Poly (21-8) vs. Thousand Oaks (20-8): The Lancers won their biggest game of the season, knocking out top-seeded Ocean View in the second round of the playoffs. Heck, it might have been the biggest win of the playoffs. Now 15th-seeded Thousand Oaks is home against No. 8 Riverside Poly in the quarterfinals. Tanner Fanjoy went off for Thousand Oaks against Ocean View, hitting seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points. The Lancers were 11-for-12 from 3-point territory as a team. They probably can’t rely on that kind of performance again, but coach Richard Endres is used to preparing teams for deep playoff runs. Poly Riverside narrowly beat Ayala, 44-42, in the second round.

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O.C.: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 20, 2012
Three Century League teams in Division 3AAA are history, but three others in higher divisions are still alive. Esperanza, seeded sixth in 3AAA, was upset by Lawndale in the second round and gets dropped from the top 10. For the moment, JSerra remains ahead of Tustin -- a team it beat previously -- but the Tillers can move up if they continue to win, and JSerra is going nowhere but down. Anaheim Canyon moves in. Ocean View has a big hurdle on Tuesday.

1. Mater Dei (25-2): Top-seeded Monarchs beat Temecula Chaparral in the first round as Xavier Johnson scoreD 17 against his former school. Next: vs. Palmdale, Tuesday.

2. Mission Viejo (24-3): Top-seeded Diablos cruised past La Sierra as Evan Zeller scored 17 and Max Redfield 13. Next: vs. Glendale, Tuesday.

3. Capistrano Valley (23-4): Second-seeded Cougars advance, and their chances of winning title are increased with the return of point guard Nick Thomas (knee), who scored 15 -- along with Aleks Lipovic -- in win over Marina. Next: vs. Walnut, Tuesday.

4. Orange Lutheran (17-11): Third-seeded Lancers get 24 points and a massive dunk from Arizona-bound Gabe York in 70-46 win over Dana Hills. Next: at Temecula Great Oak, Tuesday.

5. Ocean View (24-3): Sea Hawks won their 18th in a row as 7-footer Conor Clifford led the way with 19 points in 69-51 win over Redondo. Next: at Thousand Oaks, Tuesday.

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The upper divisions of the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs began on Friday with mostly predictable results (OC teams emerged victorious from all seven games in which they were involved in Division 1A). In the lower divisions, they played the second round, and a darkhorse in 3AA -- seventh-seeded Servite -- pulled up lame before hitting the backstretch.

Biggest upset: In only its second varsity season, Yorba Linda (11-17) went into Servite (11-18), long known for its distracting fans and a veteran of the Trinity League gantlet, and scored a 62-55 second-round victory in Division 3AA behind the play of Sharthak Mukhopadhyay, who scored 21 points. Mukhopadhyay scored 14 in the fourth as the Mustangs stretched a 37-33 lead after three quarters to nine points with 3 1/2 minutes remaining -- only to watch Servite close to within two points with 33 seconds remaining as Tre Hunter hit a pair of threes and a free throw. Hunter scored 12 of his 27 in the fourth, but Yorba Linda made five of six free throws in the final half-minute to hold on. The Mustangs next play at Charter Oak, which KO'd second-seeded Santa Barbara San Marcos, 48-45.

Best performance: When you're 7 feet 5 inches, you're supposed to be dominating, and that was the case for Mamadou Ndiaye, who helped No. 7 Brethren Christian (24-5) win on the road at Temecula Linfield Christian, 66-54. The victory sets up BC with a home game in the quarterfinals against second-seeded Sun Valley Village Christian (26-2), which is a big hurdle toward winning the 5AA championship. Ndiaye scored 27 points, had 16 rebounds and blocked seven shots. He was 12 of 17 from the field, a performance that included nine dunks. He is averaging 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and five blocks. It wasn't completely Ndiaye's show: freshman Brandon Bryson scored 18, well above his 4.9 on the season.

Best comeback: There's no margin for error in a single-elimination playoff, so credit El Toro (21-8) for taking care of business in the second half of its 56-50 victory over Long Beach Cabrillo (10-15). The Chargers were down, 29-23, at halftime before a 16-8 run in the the third quarter to seize the lead. Jordan Faison scored 21, and Ryan Roberts 12 as fifth-seeded El Toro set up a second-round game at Huntington Beach (16-12) , a 52-28 winner over Katella.

Best start: Tesoro opened a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, which helped the Titans hold off Westminster, 48-38, as Jalen Bruce and Andrew Lee scored 11 apiece. Westminster (16-11) finished with a flourish -- the Lions outscored Tesoro (15-12) in the fourth quarter, 20-13, accounting for more than half their points in the final eight minutes. The Titans will host second-seeded Canyon Country Canyon on Tuesday in the second round of the 2AA playoffs.

Best backstory: The game finished the way many anticipated, but it's worth noting anyway. Two years ago, Xavier Johnson was playing at Temecula Chaparral. Then he transferred to Mater Dei, the Monarchs won a state title with a large group of underclassmen, and this year they are among the top teams in the nation. In the first round, Johnson's former team ventured into the Meruelo Events Center and faced their former player. Johnson and Katin Reinhardt scored 17 apiece to lead the top-seeded Monarchs to a 79-34 victory over Chaparral (17-11). Mater Dei (25-2) led after one quarter, 23-17, but Chaparral scored only four, seven and six points the remaining three quarters. It would have been a more interesting match-up if Johnson had stayed. He didn't. And the rest is history. And backstory.

Best highlight: A lot of dunks are overrated. This one isn't. Gabe York's one-handed slam off a lob pass was the defining moment of third-seeded Orange Lutheran's 70-46 victory over Dana Hills (11-15) in the first round of the 1A playoffs. The Lancers (17-10) got 24 points from the 6-foot-2 Arizona-bound guard -- and maybe got the highlight of the year.

O.C.: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 29, 2012
1. Mater Dei (19-2) — A 32-11 start in the first quarter held off Trinity League unbeaten St. John Bosco as Xavier Johnson and Katin Reinhardt scored 23 and 22, respectively. Next: at Orange Lutheran, Wednesday.

2. Capistrano Valley (20-2) — Point guard Nick Thomas is out with a knee injury but seasoned Cougars still beat El Toro behind Aleks Lipovic and a defense that shut down the Chargers for seven minutes. Next: at Trabuco Hills, Friday.

3. Mission Viejo (20-2) — Three of the Diablos' last five games have been decided by four points or fewer, the most recent an 80-76 victory over Aliso Niguel behind Sage Stone's 23 points. Next: vs. Tesoro, Friday.

4. JSerra (14-7) — Rebounded from four-point loss to St. John Bosco with wins over Servite and Cerritos Valley Christian. Next: vs. Santa Margarita, Wednesday.

5. Orange Lutheran (14-7)Gabe York returned to lineup and averaged 25 points in three games; Lancers stopped the bleeding with two Trinity League wins but lost a marquee game to Loyola, 92-84. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Wednesday.

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LAKE FOREST -- With 17 seniors on his team, Friday night wasn't the first time Capistrano Valley boys' basketball coach Brian Mulligan has said "they're supposed to do that."

But they did that again. They showed their composure and defeated Lake Forest El Toro, 52-49, inside a hostile gym. It helped Capo Valley take another step toward a South Coast League title as they improved to 20-2 overall, 6-0 in league.

El Toro, ranked No. 5 to Capo's No. 1 in the Southern Section Division 1A rankings, dropped to 18-6, 2-3.

This time the Cougars showed their experience by winning without their starting point guard, Nick Thomas, who injured his knee on Tuesday in practice. One doctor said it could sideline him for several weeks. Mulligan thinks it's a bruised kneecap. When Capo defeated El Toro 68-50 on Jan. 6, Thomas scored 26.

Aleks Lipovic moved from shooting guard to the point, and Danny Portillo stepped into the shooter's role. Coincidentally, Portillo scored three points -- same as the margin of victory.

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1. Mater Dei (17-2) — Blew away Middle Village (NY) Christ the King behind Xavier Johnson and Stanley Johnson and, after a slow start, did the same thing to JSerra in a Trinity League battle. Next: vs. Santa Margarita, Wednesday.

2. Capistrano Valley (19-2)Aleks Lipovic's three-pointer was the decisive blow to Mission Viejo's 18-game winning streak and South Coast League superiority. Next: at El Toro, Friday.

3. Mission Viejo (19-2) — Diablos long winning streak is history, but they can still salvage a share of the league title if they win out. Next: at Aliso Niguel, Friday.

4. JSerra (12-6) — Coming off win over Orange Lutheran, the Lions were hoping to make a better showing against Mater Dei; a 34-point loss indicates there's still work to do. Next: vs. St. John Bosco, Wednesday.

5. Orange Lutheran (12-6) — Without Gabe York (appendicitis) the losing streak reaches four games with setbacks to La Verne Lutheran and St. John Bosco; worse news, he may miss additional games when he's healthy for playing in an adult league game. Next: vs. Servite, Wednesday.

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1. Mission Viejo won its 18th in a row on Saturday, sending Victorville Victor Valley to its 17th straight defeat, but the Diablos (18-1) almost saw their streak end on Friday night. They won at El Toro, 76-72, after trailing in the fourth quarter of the South Coast League game. Evan Zeller led the way with 30 points, and Michael Cramer had 19 as the Diablos overcame a 54-49 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The victory sets the stage for a showdown Wednesday at Capistrano Valley (17-2). That place will be rocking. Both teams are undefeated in league.

2. In what turned out to be the marquee game of the the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase, Jojo Ballestero hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Canyon a 65-62 victory over Huntington Beach. Ballestero wasn't even the first option on the play. Ballestero led Canyon (15-4) with 23 points, which was enough to overcome the game-high 32 points scored by Harley Ruder of Huntington Beach. In other Showcase games, Redondo Union beat Edison, 59-49; Villa Park beat Los Alamitos, 62-52; Palm Springs beat Cerritos Gahr, 65-39; and Mission Viejo beat Victor Valley, 84-45.

3. Three Orange Country wrestlers won championships Saturday in the prestigious Five Counties meet. In the heavyweight division, Villa Park's David Trujillo scored a 3-2 victory in the finals against Esperanza's Carl Hulick, the second time this season that Trujillo has beaten his Century League rival by that score. Juan Hernandez of Capistrano Valley won the championship at 195 pounds, and Edison's Greg Meline won the title at 171.

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1. Mater Dei (15-2) — Trailed early against Orange Lutheran before Johnson and Johnson -- Xavier and Stanley -- took over. Next: vs. Middle Village (NY) Christ the King, Monday.

2. Capistrano Valley (17-2)Aleks Lipovic hangs 19 on Aliso Niguel and 22 on Dana Hills as Cougars’ win fifth in a row to set up huge South Coast showdown. Next: vs. Mission Viejo, Wednesday.

3. Mission Viejo (18-1) — Diablos have won 18 in a row, but trailed by five in fourth quarter to El Toro before pulling out 76-72 win behind Evan Zeller's 31 points. Next: at Capistrano Valley, Wednesday.

4. JSerra (12-5) -- Lions take care of business against York-less OLu, and Devon Pflueger and Reece Lemon scored season highs against Santa Margarita. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Friday.

5. Orange Lutheran (12-4) -- With Gabe York out with appendicitis for a second week, the Lancers lose their big gun -- and two in a row, to Mater Dei and JSerra. Next: vs. La Verne Lutheran, Monday.

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